Assisted lesson planning tips during a CELTA or CertTESOL course

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How do you make the most of assisted lesson planning and assessed lesson plans? Follow this article for some of the best lesson planning tips while on a TEFL course.

Observed teaching practice is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in your time on an initial training course such as a CELTA or CertTESOL. If you have never stood up in front of a class before, it can be a daunting experience.

This is where Benjamin Franklin’s pearl of wisdom comes in: Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail!

So much of the pressure of teaching practice can be taken off your shoulders by writing an effective and well-thought-out lesson plan. Taking the time to sit down with a tutor and benefit from their experience, and then applying the planning and lesson staging techniques you learn on the course can mean the difference between stressful battles and controlled, successful lessons.

Listen to your tutors

The first step to successful lesson planning comes not from you but from how you are expected to plan and deliver classes on the specific course you are attending.

Early in the course, you should be told about the important teaching practice component of the course, including information about who you are teaching, what kind of lessons you will deliver, and the grading criteria used to assess what you do in the classroom.

Pay close attention to these important details about the course! There is little time for tutors to restate the basic expectations that you will have to live up to in the time you are developing as a teacher, so take good notes about what is expected from your teaching practice lessons, and you will have the beginnings of a structure for your classroom work.

Before every lesson that you teach on the course, you should have some time dedicated to planning the lesson you will teach the next day (or the day after, if you are lucky!) in a guided (or assisted, or supervised) lesson planning session. This is your opportunity to benefit from your tutor’s long experience in the classroom, so take advantage of this important meeting.

Follow planning guidelines

You will be exposed to a lot of different ways of doing things on the course you attend, so it is a good idea to keep a list of ‘big-end’ lesson planning notes, including ways of structuring whole lessons (there are standard structures such as PPP, ESA, CAP and test-teach-test which can save a lot of time if you use them as frameworks for different types of class).

The planning, lesson staging and delivery routines given to you by your tutors are there for a reason: they save time, a luxury you simply don’t have on the course, so take advantage of these and use them for your benefit. Plan according to set structures for the course, and then you will have the chance to get more flexible and creative when you have the basics down pat.

Be prepared for meetings with tutors

Lesson planning meetings are typically quite short – up to 20 minutes is usually the limit, as every trainee on the course needs to have their time to prepare together with the tutor. Because of this time limit, it is really important that you come to the meeting prepared with a few ideas of what you want to teach. The more that comes from you, the easier it will be for the tutor to think out your ideas and guide you, rather than suggesting ideas from scratch. Even better, if you find some supporting materials for each idea you bring to the session, from a coursebook or online resource, this will save valuable time and enable you to go deeper into the nuts and bolts of the lesson.

Take lesson planning notes – don’t rely on your memory

While discussing your lesson with your tutor, bring paper and a pen, and take good graphic notes of what you discuss. Sketching things out in rough can be a hazy experience, so the more you have down on paper, the further you can develop ideas later, rather than rethinking things from scratch when you come to put your plan together for real.

Also, remember that there is likely to be a lot going on with other course demands between the planning meeting and the lesson itself, so it pays to have a clear record of what you discuss with your tutor to inform your more detailed plan when you write it up. Notes, diagrams, and sketches are valuable tools in supervised lesson planning, so make the most of them and be proactive in saving your tutors’ valuable time.

Conclusion: Overall, lesson planning can be a time-intensive chore, or a structured, well-informed way of delivering reliable, successful lessons. Listen to your tutors, apply what you learn in your input sessions, and above all, don’t spend too long planning, and you will find the time to succeed not only in teaching practice but in all aspects of your initial training course.

Also Read: Pitfalls to avoid while planning your lesson

Posted On: August 7, 2020.

Author: Tom Garside

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