Sometimes after a lesson, I feel like a million dollars. Now and then I almost start crying over how terrible my lesson was. This is my personal, subjective feedback. I might just exaggerate and it is just a sign of fatigue of bad weather. However, there are some things to consider when analyzing our lessons.
No plan – no gain
First, a lesson starts with planning. It is almost impossible to have an impromptu lesson going smoothly unless you are an incredibly experienced teacher. Nonetheless, the more experienced you are, the more preparations you do to make your students engaged and involved in activities. While planning a lesson keep asking yourself what your students are going to do, not what you are going to do.
This brings us to a commonly known fact that clear aims are vital. They give you an idea of what the outcome of your lesson is going to be. In this case, you see in what way your students are going to improve their knowledge and skills.
Think of any anticipated problems that might arise. Plan how you are going to deal with them. This can be some vocabulary or grammar that students have forgotten. It can also be a problem with listening for gist, and your students trying to understand every word. So these problems can be linguistic, organizational or individual. How can you cope with them? When you are ready to face problems, you feel relaxed and you are able to solve them effectively. That is the key to a successful lesson.
What is more, after the lesson a lesson plan would make it easier to analyze your lesson. If you state your lesson aims in the plan, you can see if you have achieved them by the end of the lesson.
Wind of change
Secondly, monitor the flow of your lesson. Be flexible. Do not ever forget that you teach your students, not your plan. Value of a lesson plan cannot be denied. However, these are your students who need you, who need knowledge and skills. That is why if you see that your students lack some knowledge to cope with a planned task, do not hesitate to adjust your plan. It is possible to switch to something more important if need be.
Sometimes you have to walk away from your coursebook and listen to your students’ needs. Remember, maybe they asked you to help them prepare for an important presentation or just give them some vocabulary practice on their favourite series. In this case, you might think that your immaculately planned lesson was super productive and great, but your student is somehow not satisfied with it. For them, this lesson was useless. Here you could contextualize the material through your students’ interests. Another way is to show them how they can use this knowledge in their sphere of interests.
To add more fun, use various interaction patterns, do not present a lecture to your students. The more they produce, the more they are involved, the better they feel, the more confident they become. Isn’t it what we need? However, do not get carried away and start scrolling your newsfeed in social media. Monitoring for later feedback is your first duty here. Make notes on what went well and badly.
This is the end..
Actually, the end of the lesson for you is the start of one more working stage. It is now that you really start to analyze how it has gone. Let us suggest some questions to check how well you have done. If you answer to most of the questions YES, that means your lesson went well.
- Did I plan my lesson? How hard was it?
- Did I follow my plan? If not, why?
- What was the aim of the lesson? Did I achieve it? How did I notice that? (If not, what prevented me from achieving it?)
- Did I provide a clear context and maintain it through the lesson?
- Did I use various interaction patterns? Which?
- What types of activities did I use? Did these activities help to achieve the aims of the lesson?
- Did my students feel relaxed and confident? (How did my students feel? How did I know that?)
- Did I have the right TTT-STT balance? (How much did I speak (TTT)? How much did my students speak (STT)?)
- How clear my instructions were?
- Did I use a board and extra worksheets?
- How did I monitor? Did I give feedback?
- Did I correct errors?
- What did I like about my lesson?
- What didn’t I like? What would I change?
- What advice would I give to myself?
Make self-evaluation a routine and you are bound to make your lessons better. Each time you will be able to filter your teaching and keep the good points avoiding making the same mistakes the next time.
In the end, we would like you to choose a statement which is true for you and complete it with your own idea in the comments:
A good lesson is like a film because…
A good lesson is like a football match because…
A good lesson is like a meal because…
A good lesson is like a symphony because…