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Teaching can be one of the hardest professions out there. There are students with no attention span, each one at a different learning level, all while administrators are constantly evaluating you — evaluations which could affect your ability to work in the future.
I'll never forget the feeling of having my lesson plan torn apart by a principal my first year of teaching.
But highly effective lesson plans are a form of classroom management in and of themselves. If your lessons are challenging, engaging, and well planned, students will love them — and so you will your administrators.
1. Start with the end in mind.
The first thing to figure out is what are students going to be producing by the end of the period. This is often one of the first things administrators look for when they walk in the room. Is it a one-paragraph response, a chart on chart paper from a book, or a script for a podcast? Whatever it is, it should be aligned to the Common Core standards you are targeting/assessing in this lesson.
2. Include lots of student-student interaction.
He who does the most, learns the most, and this often takes the form of students talking to one another. Find protocols that allow students to discuss with one another and then share out to the class. You will be amazed how engagement and classwork completion increases as students have things to say and write about. Do this, and you're sure to hit a home run.
3. Support struggling learners.
Every student should not be getting the same text or the same assignment. Some students will need extra supports, like a visual aid, a glossary, or a graphic organizer. Important — every student should not get the same supports! Don't hand out the graphic organizer to every student. Your approach should be targeted to groups based on ability level.
4. Limit the amount of teacher talk.
This goes back to Step 2. Unless you're Neil DeGrasse Tyson, most people, especially students, don't want to listen to you talk. Instead, use flipped classroom techniques to make presentations, animated slideshows, or screencasts. Or use YouTube videos. While the smartboard teaches the class, you are circulating, helping students, and making sure everybody is on task.
5. Assess student learning.
How do you know if students are learning — at different points in the lesson! You should have at least three checks for understanding before the final product. This can be a quick writing piece, a response to a poll using cell phones, or an oral check. This way, you know if you have to adjust your instruction.
Teaching 34 youngsters all at different levels, all while somebody is taking notes and evaluating your practice can be intimidating; but there is a science to the art. Follow these five steps, and you'll be on your way to highly effective.