Planning the most effective classes takes time, diligence, and an understanding of your students' abilities and goals. The goal, as with any type of teaching, is to motivate students to absorb what you teach them and to retain as much information as possible. Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your class.
Method 1 of 3: Create the basic structure
Step 1. Know your goal
At the beginning of each class, write your goal as the first point. It must be incredibly simple. Something like "students will be able to identify the different animal structures that allow them to eat, breathe, move and develop". Basically, it's what your students will be able to do once you're done with them. If you want to add something extra, add how they can achieve it (through videos, games, cards, etc.).
If you work with very young students, you should have more basic goals like "improving reading or writing skills." It can be something based on a skill or something conceptual. Check out the related wikiHow on How to Write an Educational Goal for more specific information about it
Step 2. Write a summary
In broad strokes, outline the main ideas that you will express in class. For example, if your class is about Shakespeare's Hamlet, your summary should include in which Shakespearean criteria Hamlet falls, how true the story might be, and how the themes of desire and subterfuge relate to current issues.
This will depend on the length of your class. Usually every class should have a half dozen basic steps, which should be included in your summary. You can add more if you want
Step 3. Plan a timeline
If there's a lot to cover in a given time frame, divide your plan into sections to speed up or slow down to accommodate changes as they occur. We will use a one hour class as an example.
- 1: 00-1: 10: Warm-up. Bring the class to focus and recall yesterday's discussion of the great tragedies to link it to Hamlet.
- 1: 10-1: 25: Present the information. Briefly discuss the history of Shakespeare, focusing on his creative period 2 years before and after Hamlet.
- 1: 25-1: 40: Guided practice. A class discussion around the main themes of the play. Encourage more advanced students to write 2 paragraphs and help less advanced students.
- 1: 40-1: 55: Freer practice. The class writes a paragraph to describe a current event in Shakespearean terms.
- 1: 55-2: 00: Conclusion. Pick up work, assign homework, and dismiss the class.
Step 4. Get to know your students
Clearly identify who you are educating. What is your learning style (visual, audible, tactile, or a combination)? What may you already know and where may you be lacking? Focus your plan to fit the larger group of students and make necessary modifications with students with disabilities, those who are struggling or unmotivated, and those with natural gifts.
- You probably work with a lot of introverts and extroverts. Some students will benefit more from working on their own, while others will improve by working in pairs or groups. Understanding this will help you perform different activities for different interaction preferences.
- It is also possible that you will meet some students who know as much as you about the subject (unfortunately) and some who, although they are intelligent, will see you as speaking to them in another language. If you know what these guys are like, you will know how to group and separate them (to conquer them!).
Step 5. Use multiple patterns of interaction between students
Some do well alone, others in pairs, and others in large groups. As long as you let them interact and build with each other, you will do your job well. But since each student is different, try using different opportunities for all types of interaction. Your students (and the general cohesion of the class) will improve thanks to it.
Actually any activity can be manipulated to be done separately, in pairs or in groups. If you already have ideas projected, see if you can renew them to make a mix of everything. Sometimes all you need to do is find more pairs of scissors
Step 6. Cover a wide variety of learning styles
You will likely have some students who can't sit still watching a 25-minute video and others who won't bother to read a two-page passage from a book. Neither is dumber than the other, so do them a service by modifying your activities to utilize all of the students' abilities.
Every student learns differently. Some need to see the information, some need to hear it, and some need to literally hold it in their hands. If you've spent a lot of time talking, stop and let them talk about it. If they read, apply a hands-on activity to use their knowledge. Also, they will be less bored
Method 2 of 3: Plan the Different Stages
Step 1. Warm them up
At the beginning of each class, the brains of the students are not yet ready to assimilate the contents. If someone starts explaining open heart surgery, everyone will say, "Wait a minute, slow down. Go back to holding the scalpel." Make it easier for them. That's what warming up is for. It not only calibrates their level of knowledge but also puts them on the same path.
The warm-up can be a simple game (possibly on topic concepts) to see what your current knowledge is or what you remember from the past week. Or it can be questions, a brief interaction between everyone or images that can start a conversation. Whatever it is, get them talking. Get them thinking about it, even if you haven't brought it up yet
Step 2. Present the information
It's as straightforward as can be, isn't it? Regardless of the format chosen, you should start presenting the information. It can be a video, a song, a text or even a concept. It is the essential part on which the whole class is based. Without it, students will go nowhere.
- Depending on the level of your students, you may need to be very basic. Think how far back you should go. The sentence "put your coat on the rack" is meaningless if you don't know what "coat" and "coat rack" mean. You must give them the most basic concept and let the next class deepen it.
- It may be helpful to openly tell students what they will learn. It is to give them your goal. You can't be any clearer than that. That way, they will leave knowing what they learned that day. Bluntly.
Step 3. Do a guided practice
Now that the students have received the information, you will have to apply an activity that allows them to put that knowledge into action. Still, it's still new to them, so start with an activity that helps them keep learning. Consider using worksheets, sarongs, or pictures. They will not be able to write an essay without first knowing how to fill in the blank.
If you have time to do two activities, even better. It is a good idea to test your knowledge on two different levels. For example, writing and speaking (two very different skills). Try to incorporate two activities for students who have different abilities
Step 4. Review your work and evaluate your progress
After the guided practice, evaluate your students. Does it seem like they understood what you presented to them? If so, great. You can move on, perhaps adding more difficulty elements to the concept or practicing more complex skills. If they did not understand, return to the information. How should you present it differently?
If you've taught the same group for a while, chances are you know students who may struggle with certain concepts. If this is the case, pair them with the strongest students to keep the class flowing. You don't want certain students to fall behind, but you also don't want the class to be delayed while waiting for everyone to be on the same level
Step 5. Do a freer practice
Now that the students have the basic information, let them exercise the knowledge on their own. It doesn't mean you should leave the room! It means that they must make a more creative effort to get their minds to absorb the information presented. How can you make their minds flourish?
It depends on the topic at hand and the skills you want to use. It can be anything from a 20 minute puppet project to flirting with the Oversoul through an intense debate on transcendentalism
Step 6. Make time for questions
If you have a class with enough time to cover the relevant topic, allow about 10 minutes at the end for questions. It could start as a discussion and evolve into exploratory questions on the same topic. Or it could just be a time to clarify doubts. Both of these will benefit your students.
If you have a group full of guys who aren't too involved, get the topic out there. Introduce them one aspect of the topic to discuss and 5 minutes to talk about it. Then bring the main part to the whole class and start a group discussion. Interesting points will appear right away
Step 7. Finish the class concretely
In a sense, a class is like a conversation. If you just finish it, it might be up in the air. It's not a bad thing… it's just a strange and uncomfortable feeling. If time permits, summarize the day with your students. A good idea is to literally show them that they learned something.
Take five minutes to review the concepts of the day. Ask them questions to cover the concepts (without introducing new information) to reiterate what they did and learned that day. It is a matter of closing the circle, putting an end to your work
Method 3 of 3: Prepare
Step 1. If you are nervous, write a script
New teachers will have peace of mind if they script each class. Even if it takes longer than a class lasts, if it helps, do it. It may calm your nerves if you know exactly what questions you want to ask and where you want to lead a conversation.
As time goes by, do it less and less. Eventually, you will be able to do it with practically nothing. You shouldn't spend more time planning and writing than teaching. Use it as a training device
Step 2. Leave some leeway
Did you write your timeline minute by minute? Fantastic, but you should know that it is only a reference. Don't say "Guys, it's 1:15 already! STOP EVERYTHING YOU'RE DOING." That's not how teaching works. While it's okay to stick to the plan for good reason, you will need to allow yourself some leeway.
If you rush through time, you must know what you can and cannot avoid. What do you need to cover for kids to learn as much as possible? What information is unnecessary and a waste of time? On the other hand, if you have a lot of time to spare, have another activity up your sleeve to apply if you need to
Step 3. Over-plan your class
Knowing that you have a lot to do is a better problem than not having enough to do. Even if you have a program, plan for less time. If something might take 20 minutes, leave it at 15. You never know what your students will do!
The easiest thing to do is show up with a closing game or discussion. Pass the topic on to the students and have them discuss their opinions and ask questions
Step 4. Do it in a way that a substitute teacher can understand
Faced with an eventuality that happens and you cannot teach the class, you will want to make a plan that someone else can understand. The other point about this is that if you write it in advance and forget about it, it will be easier to jog your memory if the plan is clear.
There are many templates that you can find online or you can ask other teachers which shapes they use. If you stick with just one format, it will be better for your brain as well. The more consistent the better
Step 5. Create a backup plan
In your career as a teacher, you will have days when students will derail your plan and be flabbergasted. You will also have days when test dates were changed, only half the class attended, or the video you were planning to show did not work in the player. When these days appear, you must have a backup plan.
Most veteran teachers have several lesson plans on hand to go to at any time. If you had a particularly successful class on the Punnett square, save the material for later use. You can make it a different class with another group to talk about evolution, natural selection, or genetics, depending on the ability of the students. Or you can have a Beyoncé class under command (thinking about women's civil rights, the progress of pop music, or just for a music class on a Friday afternoon). Whatever is
- After class is over, discuss your plan and how it worked. What will you do different next time?
- Remember to adhere to your school's state or district standards.
- Present previews of new materials with students and set study goals a week or two in advance.
- Prepare to deviate from the class plan. Plan how to return attention to the class when it strays.
- If lesson plans aren't your strong suit, consider the Dogme method of teaching. It does not use textbooks and allows students to take control.
- Be clear in saying that you expect questions to be answered by a certain date.