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Lesson Planning

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by ukmarkwilson, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Hi all - very lucky to be a career-changer going into a Schools Direct Salaried role for secondary English this coming September. In preparation for that, I have been working as a Learning Support Assistant in my placement school since February.

    I am petrified of being under-prepared so, this month (Aug-17), I have been attempting to produce Lesson Plans and accompanying PowerPoint presentations for the Autumn term; I'll be teaching 'The Woman in Black' to Year 8s, amongst other as yet undefined texts to Year 9s and - frighteningly - Media classes to Year 13s. I have a blank lesson plan sheet on my PC, which I'm using to enter as much detail as I can, a long-term plan for the Year 8s and a medium-term plan for 'The Woman in Black' topic, so that's weekly learning objectives for 14 weeks worth of work.

    The issue I'm having is this...
    • I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing.
    • How easy / hard should the exercises be?
    • How many exercises should I run within a 40 minute lesson?
    • Do the pupils actually sit and read the book in class or are they expected to read it in their own time? I tried reading out loud the first chapter at a slower than normal pace and it was a good 20 minutes, which doesn't seem like an effective use of time.
    • On the Lesson Plans, I don't understand what is required to be entered in 'Class Context', 'Success Criteria', or how to detail how the 'Progress of Students' will be monitored - "Here's the exercise... Have you done it? Good, carry on..."
    • Currently, to write one lesson plan and create the presentation, it's taking me the best part of a day. That seems high, considering some people are on forums talking about 20-40 minutes per lesson plan!
    Additionally, I'm sure that the senior colleagues in the department are working hard on pulling together everything, but without knowing how many pupils are in my classes, what time of day lessons are scheduled for or who's in the classroom (as I am familiar with some of them, it would help me understand more about differentiating content to suit as well as how long their attentions spans can last) I am feeling particularly nervous about the coming year.

    Any tips, advice, kind words, etc, would be appreciated!
  2. Trendy Art

    Trendy Art Star commenter

    It is commendable that you have put a lot of effort into your preparation.

    But I would have thought the department you are doing your teaching practice with should already have some resources. Communicating with them should reduce your workload and others as you share it! If you can talk to someone e.g. head of department - that seems the most obvious thing to make best use of time.

    If that is not possible, stick to making resources based on what you saw as a LSA that can work for the texts and lessons you will teach.

    Of course, planning is difficult as you haven't done it before and that is the whole point of your training - so cross that bridge when you come to it. Most trainees find they plan them and have to do it all again the first few times because they haven't pitched it at the right level. It will be impossible for anyone on these forums to advise on your classes without knowing the special needs, school context, etc of individual children. So, leave it until then!

    To be honest, I'd say enjoy this break with family and friends to maintain your energy levels into the new term - your conscientiousness demonstrates you will be more than up to the challenge.
    Isobeleh and (deleted member) like this.
  3. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    You may well be wasting a lot of your own time here. A SD trainee will not be expected to turn up on their first day having written a load of lessons plans. Plus (No offence intended here), as you have said, you don't really know what you're doing yet, so it is likely that any plans you have written will need to be scrapped/re-done once you get going.

    I look after a number of Schools Direct trainees and, unless they are already experienced (unqualified) teachers, I would expect them to spend their first few weeks getting to know their schools - observing teaching,joinning teachers at PPA, learning about assessment etc.

    Not until they had a basic understanding of what everything was all about would I want them planning (and teaching) their own lessons. I would also expect the first 1 or 2 lessons to be planned with the support of the subject mentor.
    Isobeleh and pepper5 like this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi UKmark

    When you start in September, you will have access to your colleagues who can help you. For resources, have a look on the resource section on this site - use all the free resources you can find. Try not to spend too much time worrying about making original resources at this stage. Your department is bound to have resources for all the books you mention. Your time is better spent doing other things. The time will come when you have the luxury of planning and making resources, but at the beginning you just need SOMETHING.

    Since you are starting out, it will take you longer to plan. People who do it in 20 minutes or 40 minutes are teachers with many years' experience - don't make the fatal error of judging yourself against people who have been teaching years. It will take you 10,000 hours to become an expert. Of course, you can't spend a whole day on one lesson - but you will get more efficient at doing it. Also, as suggested above, you will have access to resources and lesson plans that others have used and you will have people to help you by showing you MODELS of what you are aiming for.

    If you training provider/school or whoever has given you a reading list, take that list and look for the books on how to write a lesson plan. The book will start with explaining some of the theories of learning which underpin learning, how to write a lesson objective, how to organise a lesson, and some of the other questions you ask. Some specific questions about reading times and so forth, you can ask over on the English Forum.

    Go onto Amazon and look for any books entitled, How to Teach English in Secondary Schools or something similar. Then look at the reviews and inside the book ( the feature of "look inside") and make a judgment that way if there are no books on your reading list that deals with lesson planning.

    Give yourself two or three days to read all the advice and information. That way, you will have a better idea of what to do and how to do it. Don't spend a lot - £15.00 should be enough to get a decent book.

    In order to do well on your course and make it through, you must ensure you are organised - if you are not, you will be overwhelmed. Ensure you get folders, plastic wallet documents, dividers, folders. Have a place for everything and everything in its place since you will be dealing with thousands of pieces of paper.

    Also, spend some time thinking about your classroom, your rules and expectations and routines. From the very beginning, show that you are organised. Think about how you are going to store the students' books. If you have cupboards and are blessed with enough space, have crates labelled when you your class lists. Ensure you and the class keep their books tidied away each lesson and everything glued in. Have a rotation with students responsible for getting the books out and collecting them in. Have designated places for plain paper, lined paper, coloured pencils, rulers and other vital equipment. At the end of each week, replenish the paper and check supplies. The school will provide you with all you need - don't spend your own money.

    Have clear rules somewhere on the board. For classroom management, read Taking Care of Behaviour by Paul Dix.

    Take some time to teach the routine. Explain what you expect. When you get your class lists, make up seating plans.

    Your routine for your classes, could be that after entering the room, and putting things away quickly, students read in silence for 5 minutes or so, while you take the register and set up. Alternatively, you could have a starter covering a grammar point or spellings to learn that they do in silence for that first five minutes to give you time to ensure the register is taken and everyone is settled. Having weekly spelling tests for your year 8s might be a sensible idea. Check with your HOD to see if they have a list - otherwise make your own. With the teaching of the set texts, some lessons you might wish to cover a grammar point and have the students learn that and do some practice.

    Even if you are not confident at first ACT like you are and the confidence will come.

    Do not fall into the trap of working 15 hour days. Write up a timetable and stick to it going to bed at a reasonable time to ensure you get adequate sleep and eat properly. Do not follow the crowd and work long hours with no sleep and not enough food as you will develop health problems including depression and exhaustion. I know it is difficult and not many manage it, but try to have one day off during the weekend to rest completely where you do not think about teaching or do anything related to it.

    Lastly, do your best, and stay positive as you are bound to make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. If you make a mistake, it is not the end of the world - take whatever it is and learn from it. Do not strive for perfection - strive for completing the task.

    Keep posting on here and in the English forum as there are other posters who will help you.

    You will learn a lot as you go, so do not worry. Take one day at a time and one step at a time. Try to look ahead and see the "trip wires" and make some provision for those things.

    When you observe, take notes of things you can use in your own lessons or techniques teachers use to deal with certain things that arise.

    All the very best for September and hope some of the above helps.
    Isobeleh, Pomz and (deleted member) like this.
  5. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    You can't plan until you know the classes, as you need to meet their needs in terms of challenge and support. Also, you need to be planning according to the schemes of work, and if there are no schemes of work you need to ask your mentor for support, as you are not aware as a trainee of all the skills that students need to develop through from KS3 to KS4. For example, if Y8 are reading Woman in Black they might be developing skills in identifying and producing figurative language, understanding gothic conventions, looking at how tension is built in a text, comprehension skills etc.; they might do a creative writing assessment where they have to write their own gothic story opening, or a speaking assessment where they perform a monologue from the point of view of one of the characters...

    Whether you read the text together, or they read it at home, depends on the kids - at my second PGCE placement school they were actually provided with pens and pencils for their GCSEs on the day of the exams, as they were not capable of bringing them in themselves; these kids do not purchase a text themselves and read it at home. I've only been in one school that had enough texts for everyone; in other schools the class set is shared so cannot be taken home. You may not have time to actually read the whole text, which is something you'll have to deal with. Find an audiobook version for an idea of how long it would take to read each chapter, although if the kids are not fluent readers it'll take a lot longer. Reading aloud (the kids reading) IS an effective use of time, as they are developing reading, listening and speaking skills which they need for GCSEs and life in general - you may be surprised by the lack of fluency that some kids have when reading, which does not betray itself in everyday conversation. Listening to them read also highlights unknown words and so on. As they read you listen, and you pause them to clarify understanding or discuss the text.

    Class context relates to pupil premium, SEN, gender etc. These things are monitored. You have to try and support the PP kids, so say the government. In some schools you need to address the gender gap (girls always outperform boys at GCSE). Etc.

    Each lesson should have a purpose, e.g. by the end of the lesson all of you will be able to identify a simile in a text, some of you will be able to write your own, and a few of you will be able to state the effect of that simile on the reader. That is your success criteria - the kids do that in their books, and you have proof of their progress. You will find that not every child can complete every task, or complete it to the same standard, so it is not a case of 'here's a task, you've finished it, great'; some need simpler tasks, some need more challenging tasks.
    Isobeleh, Pomz and pepper5 like this.
  6. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    So basically - You can'y really do anything useful yet.

    Chill out and enjoy what is left of the holiday. You will benefit from being enthusiastic, but fresh and rested too....:)
    Isobeleh, Flere-Imsaho and pepper5 like this.
  7. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    That's because you've not started teacher training yet. Someone will help you with all this stuff and you will see it in action too. Until then you're just wasting your time.

    It's natural to want to be prepared. I'd clean the house, fill the freezer and spend time doing stuff you like with people you like. You're going to be tired, busy and emotionally drained for a while so start from the best possible point.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Having said that, when you do start try to focus on what they are learning not what exercises they have done. A pupil can do poorly thought out exercises all day and not learn anything. One good question might cause an epiphany! It's natural when you start to want to fill lesson times with stuff for the kids to do but if all that stuff doesn't have a clear purpose then you'd be far better just reading to them a lot!
    Pomz and pepper5 like this.

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