Lesson planning

A few weeks ago I participated in a webinar on lesson planning (Perspectives of lesson planning. John Huges. Oxford University Press), introduced through a blog post of the same name (http://oupeltglobalblog.com/tag/webinar/). It spurred me into thinking about how I plan my lessons and what I take into consideration when planning. It’s not really something I’ve thought about for a very long time (i.e. about 15 years!).

My plans are usually pretty short affairs with minimal detail (below is a plan for 3 lessons – 6 hours of teaching).


This is generally because I plan about a week ahead and only sketch out a rough outline of each lesson. Once I’ve started teaching from them, they start to look quite different!


This seems to chime with what the webinar said: that plans are mainly written for the teacher to use and only as a base for  the lesson. Most teachers adapt what they are doing as they teach. If this is the case what do teachers (or myself) do in the planning process?

Before I attempt to answer that, I should start with my current planning process:

  1. Write a rough outline of the content to be covered, including possible extensions, quizzes, games… (this is what gets put into my planning book)
  2. Create any extra materials that come up from the planning
  3. Alter plans, re-adjusting and adding more appropriate activities (for the students or current atmosphere) as the week unfolds.

Most of  my planning time is spent on parts 2 and 3 (part 1 may only take 15 minutes). I’m not really sure why I plan like this (or if others do the same). It seems to have evolved this way and it works for me.

So why am I looking at it? I felt it would be interesting to find out (or at least try) what my thought processes are (hopefully there are some!) – namely

What do I take into consideration?

Why do I decide on certain activities and others?

Do I use certain activities too frequently?

Why do I change activities?

What happens in the classroom?

Why do I alter items in class?

In other words to look at the ‘unconscious’ part of my planning I guess. This term I intend to keep a diary of my planning and from this I’ll see if there are any aspects from the webinar that I should be taking more into consideration. It’ll be interesting to see what comes from it.

About sarahali

I am linguist working in the EFL field. I started my teaching career in East Germany in 1997, continuing for a while (7 years) in Austria before settling back in the UK, where I am now based. I have taught English in various forms (ESP, ESOL, Business English, EFL (general) and EAP) to students ranging from 3 years of age to 80. I have written, developed and edited teaching material and curricular for the Arabic speaking world, as well as African countries. I have also written materials and teacher's books for 3-year olds learning in multi-lingual schools in Spain and have worked on translating and adapting Early Readers for the international market. I'm currently a senior tutor for EAP, a TEL coordinator and an academic proofreader. I also work as a freelance materials writer and developer. I speak English, German and French, with a basic knowledge of Arabic and Spanish.
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