My lesson planning process

How I plan lessons:

1. Look at the next thing in the textbook and think “That’s shit. What were they thinking publishing that? And what the hell I am supposed to do with it?”

2. Get a cup of tea

3. Find something relevant of mine on my hard disk or online and have a moment of joy/ relief before I decide “That’s shit. What was I thinking producing that? Now what I am supposed to do?”

4. Get a cup of tea

5. Go to toilet to get rid of the previous tea

6. Suddenly think of something I can do and think “I’m a genius!”

7. Realise how much preparation that idea would entail and sink into depression

8. Stick the tea in the microwave

9. Get down to doing that prep, motivated by the illusion that it will result in students with that look of joy on their faces that TEFL school ads always show and sudden progress that will mean some of them might actually deserve to go up to the next level (despite 16 years of TEFL experience to suggest otherwise)

10. Get two thirds of the way through the prep before the motivation runs out, then complete the rest due to the sheer panic of having no other idea of what to do

11. See at least three silly typos on the way to class (caused by that lack of motivation and sheer panic at the end of the lesson planning process)

12. Correct at least three more typos during the class, whilst alternating between suicidal thoughts due to it not being a work of genius and joy that at least it hasn’t bombed and is something new

13. Add the corrected worksheet to the pile in the corner of my room

14. Look at the next page of the textbook

and repeat.

Not exactly highly recommended, but kind of works for me. And you?

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8 Responses to My lesson planning process

  1. Laura says:

    Oh my GOD … I barely know what to write, I’m so freaked out by the similarity I’m seeing here. The only major differences are that I don’t have a microwave and all the extra paper copies of my worksheets get thrown in the company recycle bin! OK, and from time to time I actually DO find something useful to use on my hard-drive, thus avoiding the next cycle of preparation stress. But in general, I’d say I experience EXACTLY this kind of thing on almost a daily basis. Don’t feel alone!

  2. dana p says:

    Dear Alex,
    I wasn’t sure how to contact you as I did not see a contact form or email. I simply wanted to ask if you have suggestions, tips, advice on writing a new CV for teaching English as a second language. I just completed my 120-hour course through Florida State University. I also have my BA. However, teaching English is a new career path for me so I lack a lot of experience. I have been assisting an English teacher with her non-native speakers at a local middle school for the past 6 months to gain as much experience as possible. How do I create a teaching resume/CV with the little experience I have?
    Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
    DP

  3. alexcase says:

    Great minds work alike Laura??

    This might help, Dana:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles/perfect-cv-cover-letter-for-tefl-teacher.html

    Let me know if you need more specific advice after reading it.

  4. Andrew says:

    Yes, this is pretty much my routine too, with maybe some extra panic thrown in. I must admit it’s a bit disconcerting that you haven’t got past this stage Alex, I kind of hoped that it would just click one day and lesson planning would become second nature.

  5. Elloa says:

    Like Laura, I’m freaking out a little at how similar my process feels to what you’ve described. I’ve just landed here for the first time ever, avoiding planning a three hour lesson for a bunch of teenagers tomorrow (God help me). It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  6. alexcase says:

    It isn’t very pleasant and it can get very repetitive, but I think the reason why it persists in so many people for so long is that it does provide the motivation that can be lacking and is reasonably time efficient. I say that because I’m presently suffering from the much less efficient and motivating opposite extreme of having a free week to prepare a whole bunch of upcoming courses. Here’s my routine at the moment:
    – Brainstorm a whole lot of ideas for all those lessons and courses
    – Get distracted along the way by brainstorming some other good ideas that have nothing to do with the courses I am planning
    – Get completely confused due to not remembering which course I’m working on at any one time, forgetting which things I’ve thought of I have and haven’t written down, not being able to distinguish which of those many brainstormed ideas are best, etc
    – Waste time developing several alternative lessons for the same course
    – Finally get down to working on just the lesson which is coming up, but much more slowly than I usually would due to the lack of panic

    This process probably does lead to slightly better lessons, but all in all I think I prefer my usual routine.

  7. alexcase says:

    Thinking about that contrast again suddenly gave me a nasty flashback to my two opposite but almost equally unpleasant ways of approaching exam revision at university and school. Again, the panic-induced one was the lesser of two evils…

  8. energyfuturehope says:

    So true!!! Every day!))

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