Lesson Planning | Free Lesson Plan Template and Sample
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
Given that there are a variety of reasons for writing a lesson plan, it should be a non-contentious view that there should be different kinds of lesson plan for different contexts. It is very difficult to come up with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ for every situation. With this in mind, let’s start by looking at who lesson plans are for, and why we might want to write one in the first place.
Here are a few categories of people for whom you might want to write a lesson plan:
If you are a relatively new or inexperienced teacher, writing a lesson plan can help you think through your lesson with greater clarity. It can act as a kind of practical checklist of things to consider. In particular, it can help you to:
People sometimes think about a lesson plan in terms of a comfort blanket or a set of training wheels, but I find these kinds of metaphors rather patronising. It suggests that the teacher is somehow deficient or lacking in capability. Instead, teachers who plan in this way should be congratulated on being thorough and professional in their approach.
Of course, as teachers become more experienced, they will find it easier to work from brief notes or to carry a plan in their heads. Over time, all teachers hone their skills, learn to adapt to circumstances and events with confidence and improvise judiciously, sometimes going ‘off plan’ completely, when the occasion calls for it. However, even experienced teachers sometimes find it useful to put together a detailed written plan – particularly if they are finding a particular group of learners challenging or if they want to think through a lesson in more detail.
You may also be asked for a lesson plan by your Academic Manager. This could be because they want to ensure that your content and methods are appropriate – either to the age and level of the students, to the syllabus or the ethos, approach and methodology of the school. But there may be other reasons too. For example, they may encourage you to use it as a tool for self-reflection, or they may want to keep copies on file with the class’s record of work so that they can evidence if required, that a lesson is purposeful and has been well-planned and thought through. This may be partly as a Quality Assurance (QA) measure but may also be a good thing for you as a teacher – for example, in the unlikely event of a complaint from a student or parent.
Sometimes you may want to write a lesson plan that can be used by another teacher. For example:
Finally, you will at some stage have your teaching observed. This may be done by your TEFL tutor, your Academic Manager, or by an external assessor (for example, a British Council or EAQUALS inspector).
With a TEFL tutor, you may need to evidence your preparation in detail, as it is likely to form part of what you will need to submit in order to pass your course. Also, the additional detail will help them understand and assess the choices that you make when teaching.
Lesson plans for external observers also tend to need more detail. This is simply because someone external is unlikely to know the institution or the class. Also, since it is the role of such observers to assess the quality of the teaching, they will benefit from having a full picture. If they are observing a large number of classes, observers may not be able to stay for a full lesson and may need to understand the portion of the lesson they observe in a wider context.
Observations by an academic manager will usually be for one of three reasons:
We do all three kinds of observation and, for each, we expect different levels of planning. It is worth noting that the way each type of observation is conducted and the kind of feedback for each is quite different too.
In short, decisions about how to write a lesson plan and its contents need to be guided by its purpose. As a teacher these decisions are sometimes taken out of your hands – dictated by your tutor, by the institution where you work, by your Academic Manager or by the inspecting body.
However, where you are in control, you need to think about what information is useful. I have attached a template you can use and that can be adapted to your own context. The template and example provided are relatively detailed. However, because it has been produced in the form of a Word table, it should be relatively easy to delete any rows or sections that are not relevant to you. For example, if you work at a small school and the lesson plan is for your Academic Manager, you will probably not need the contextual notes on the class.
Any section can be expanded if required. In particular, you may want to extend the ‘phases of teaching’ boxes to include more detail. This is down to personal preference and may depend on how experienced you are as a teacher.
Just before I sign off, there is one other thing I should say: remember that a lesson plan is just a document. Do not fetishise it – what is important is the learning that takes place in the classroom. Don’t let the document become more important than the lesson itself.
By way of warning, I have listed below some things to look out for and avoid when you are planning your lesson: