I had to induct a new teacher at school once. They were fairly new to teaching and unfamiliar with our in-house product at the time (called myClass). I thought that listening to me ramble on for half an hour about how to approach the planning would be boring. So, I decided a one-page ‘try it like this’ would be better. And a tad less condescending*. Here was that one page.
(*yes I’m aware that I start with ‘open the lesson flipchart’, but it’s not as condescending as it sounds. Each lesson folder includes about 7 files, so you might as well know which ones are actually worth looking at first!)
Planning a myClass lesson: some tips
You get 45 mins planning time for a myClass lesson. Sometimes it can take a while just looking through all the documents, listening to the model text, etc. Here’s my basic planning process, which might give you a few ideas for dealing with the materials.
- Open the flipchart and the handout. Ignore the teacher notes as there’s not much in them apart from answers. Print a copy of the handout if this is easier for you.
- Look at the lesson overview page and the aims. Look at the final task. Understand generally what you want learners to achieve, and the lesson flow.
- Listen to the model text. Make a note of any extra parts worth drawing attention to (especially related to the pronunciation aims).
- Look at the activities that are leading to the final task.
- Do you think they are all relevant?
- Are there enough / any practice stages for the language that is introduced?
- Which activities do you think will take the most time?
- How might learners struggle with the activities? How could you support them?
- Make some changes to the materials if you need to. Select / reject / adapt / supplement materials.
- Be conscious of time: you have limited planning time. You don’t need to go overboard.
Things that I find save a bit of time…
- Putting answers on the flipchart.
- Using the snipping tool to take answers from the notes.
- Asking around the office – someone may have already adapted a flipchart or made an extra resource.
Things that I find support the learners (which you can add at the planning stage I mean)…
- Adding process language to the flipchart
- Sometimes giving prompts (images, words) when a task involves accessing prior knowledge
- Getting them to practice the transcript (when relevant)
- Using disappearing dialogues
- Signposting the lesson stages
- Reviewing the lesson stages before the final task.
I sat in the staffroom while the teacher planned their first lesson and was on hand to answer questions. And, well, that was it. ‘Welcome to the school. Here’s some generic advice. Happy planning’.
Well, I stumbled across this document the other day and it got me thinking:
- It’s hard trying to summarise your lesson planning process in a one-page document.
- It’s also strange to look back and think ‘wow, those lessons must have been pretty formulaic!’ It’s also a bit sad to think that some of my best advice was just to use snipping tool. Blimey, I really am unskilled 😦
- Outlining this process made some areas of development for the product very clear. Images for support, clear signposting and process language are all things that could be added at the design stage. Teacher planning time is precious, but some of mine could have been freed up by better materials design, that’s for sure.
- My advice does read as generic. But looking back, my aim was more to nudge a new teacher in the right direction. If presented with an in-house product with a planned lesson sequence, there will no doubt be a tendency for some teachers to print the handout and run with it. I guess my reminder of ‘select, reject, adapt’ were actually my way of saying ‘look, the product is alright, but it DOES need adapting!’
It’s also funny how performative a process can be. When tasked with inducting the new teacher, I felt I had to do something! If I were more honest at the time then the document would have started with:
- Ask the learners if the lesson topic and task are interesting and or relevant to them.
- If they say no, ask them why they signed up for the lesson. Then ask them if they would like to do something different.
- If they say yes, ask them what. If they have no ideas, tell them we’ll have a chat and see what comes up. Think of a topic fast.
- Don’t mention this document to any of our academic managers please.
Lol, snipping tool hey? Over a decade in the classroom, CELTA, DipTESOL, MA, PGCEi. My best advice? Snipping tool.
Here’s a challenge. Summarise your planning process in 100 words. Alright, 150…