I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

As a teacher, I have a love/hate relationship with lesson planning. I love to have already planned, but I hate writing the plans. I’m pretty decent at thinking about tasks to do and the language use and activities to stimulate such use but when it comes to hammering it into MS Word, I don’t feel that I do myself justice. Whack it on a scruffy bit of notepaper and it’s brilliant.

Anyway, there was a Twitter discussion between Anthony Ash, Marek Kiczkowiak and I about the benefits of a detailed plan for observed lessons and such based on Anthony’s original post. Basically, the consensus was that detailed plans can be useful for professional development but that it doesn’t always occur. Marek and I said that the 10-page lesson plan is a waste of time seeing as it’s probably going to be binned, but that a bunch of Post-Its or bullet list would be fine provided one knows the reasons why one is doing what one is doing and how one is going to do it.

Anyway, it got me thinking about Preflection, a post on Steve Brown’s blog from ages ago, how knowing your learners is essential, and how taking notes in the class is important. It got me thinking about needs analysis as well.

It is my belief that all good reflective teachers carry out a needs analysis of their learners on the fly, either error analysis or just finding out about their motivation for learning. We then reflect upon these needs and make judgments about how to alter our practice to facilitate the student’s uptake of language regarding these needs. It got me thinking about incredibly detailed diagrams by Long (1977) and Chaudron (1977) in Allwright and Bailey (1991: p.101, p.106) showing the multitude of decisions that language teachers make in the classroom just for error treatment.

Because of this, I don’t think that having a hugely detailed lesson plan is important because whatever you do in the classroom occurs in the classroom at that particular moment; given this fact, the context changes due to affective factors such as learner moods/states-of-mind and effective factors such as new work assignments requiring different language skills to those previously needed or an impulsion to talk about something highly topical. The aforementioned bulleted list is, in my opinion, sufficient and a healthy allocation of contingency time useful in order to indulge learner whims.

References
Other than internet sources linked to above,
Allwright, D and Bailey, K. (1991) Focus on the Language Classroom. Cambridge: CUP.

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