Unplanned planning

The research into my own planning process has been of to an interesting start! I was hoping to be comparing the process I’ve been going through with the responses I’ve had about how teachers plan this week, but hey, best laid plans and all that!

The course that I was scheduled to teach  has now been cancelled (students couldn’t get visas in time), so all that initial planning is out the window. This isn’t really a problem as I was very familiar with the course: many of the extras I  planned to use, had been created for previous terms and I’m sure I can use them again. The challenge is that I’m now teaching on two courses  I’m not so familiar with, in fact I’ve not taught on them before. However, this has given me a new aspect of planning to consider: whether planning for new courses alters my planning process.

My timetable was altered a short time before the new courses were due to start, so I’ve been in a bit of a spin trying to get my head around course content, assessments and marking descriptors.When I teach a new course I like to understand the course requirements, assessments and content before I start planning. When I use a new book I tend to go through and add the answers ahead of the class, as this helps me understand the teaching point more clearly and/or the intended angle (which isn’t always clear from the book) and visualise any potential challenges the students may face. This isn’t always straight forward  if it’s unfamiliar.


Observations from the first week

Most of my planning time has been taken up with looking through the assessments and course materials, so I don’t feel that I’ve planned in the same way as I had for my original timetable. My focus has been on understanding the requirements of the new modules and ensuring I can pass the correct information on to the students, rather than how the information is passed on. I’ve spent  a good amount of time reading through the course books to understand the teaching points and find ways to take these ‘off the page’. This has been the main challenge, as I’m unfamiliar with the content and so being creative with it isn’t so easy. I have succeeded in adding some activities, for example using PollEv.com and Kahoot, and having students match items, that (hopefully) make the content more student focused.

I have managed to plan the first week for both courses, but I’m not confident that they will be successful.

I taught the first lesson yesterday. The lesson went as planned and  the activities seemed to be well received. I think the main stumbling was my own confidence in delivering the lesson. Since meeting the first group of students I’ve  started to rejig the week’s planning. I’ve changed the order, created and added new exercises.  I’m still not so confident that these will work, but that should come as I become more familiar with the course. I’ve also created a rough overview for the whole term to give me the confidence that I know what’s coming (I just need to match it to the course book now!).  I hope that in the coming weeks I can start to concentrate more on the students and tailoring the content to their needs and less on the content itself – by that I don’t mean ignore the content, just manipulate it more confidently.

Teaching on new modules has clearly influenced the way I initially plan.   – time will tell if it effects the whole course. It also seems to have had an impact on my confidence: I think this is because I’m not familiar with the course expectations and content (the teaching bit is fine!).



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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