Why Lesson Planning Is Important (40+ Reasons Why According to 10+ Experts)

Lesson planning is a crucial part of the teaching process but can also be one of the most challenging tasks.

But why should educators invest so much time and effort in creating detailed lessons? What benefits does it provide the students, as well as the instructors themselves?

According to experts, here are the reasons why lesson planning is essential:

Natalie Burns, BEd., BSc.

Natalie Burns

Certified Teacher | Homeschool Advocate, Natalie Burns Mentorship

It can be tempting to ditch the lesson plan, especially when each day reveals new learning challenges you didn’t expect! Often, we find ourselves planning for weeks or months in advance, only to learn that the students were not connecting with that information for lifelong understanding.

Now you’re tweaking your plan to include that same content in a new way for tomorrow and completely rearranging all of the days ahead. It can feel like a waste of time to decide on a plan when the likelihood is so high that the plan will change!

But still, lesson planning is essential. In order to address this massive problem of plan changing, you may want to consider how you go about lesson planning in the future.

Lesson planning allows you to prevent problems from occurring

Every great lesson plan has variety — the spice of life! Get to know your students so you can teach to their strengths, whether with visual tools, auditory components, or kinaesthetic activities. I recommend you include at least 3 of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences in each lesson to allow more students to connect to the content.

When students are able to more easily process the information in a way that their brain understands, they will be more engaged and willing to participate. When they are engaged, distractions and interruptions are kept to a minimum!

Lesson planning serves as evidence for your learning program

Whether a supervisor, a parent or a substitute teacher comes through the door, a lesson plan allows you to showcase evidence for the educational program you are providing your students.

When you can highlight the information you are presenting and how you are doing that creatively and thoughtfully, the ownership of the actual learning then moves to the student. This is the role of the teacher: the facilitator and guide to meaning-making and connection.

A lesson plan ensures that students take on responsibility for their own learning.

Lesson planning keeps you flexible

That’s right, the biggest roadblock to lesson planning is actually one of the major benefits!

By having a plan in place for what the big idea is, how you will access prior knowledge, and what connections between other ideas will be made, you can formatively assess your students for which areas they are understanding and which areas they still have questions about.

With a clear lesson plan in place, you and the student understand what the learning expectations are and can evaluate whether the student has met those learning expectations. Did they miss the mark? Now you can readdress the information in a new way during the next lesson!

Take the time to plan out your next lesson

Worried about changing your future lessons? Schedule review days in your monthly or yearly plan.

Take the time to plan out your next lesson to spark a sense of wonderment in your students. When a lesson plan includes a big idea, accesses prior knowledge, and promotes connection-making, your students will be more engaged and willing to participate in the learning process.

It allows you to align with your goals

Having a simple plan allows you to align with your goals as you progress through your year, provides a safety structure for your children, and serves as evidence for your learning program.

It allows you to set up learning to prevent problems

Lesson planning allows you to set up learning to prevent problems from occurring by planning for variety in how you present information and the child can become much more engaged in the learning process.

It will spark a sense of wonderment in the learning process

A well-thought-out lesson plan will spark a sense of wonderment in the learning process. When a lesson includes a big idea, accesses prior knowledge, and promotes connection-making, the child will be more engaged and willing to participate.

Dedra Eatmon, Ph.D.

Dedra Eatmon

High School Teacher | Founder, Tassel to Tassel

It allows you to serve yourself and your students better

Lesson planning is an integral part of the educational and teaching process. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or a rookie teacher in your first year, lesson planning allows you to serve yourself and your students better. 

With proper planning, you feel more in control of the learning process, which creates a more soothing learning environment and experience for the class. In my 20+ years of teaching — and teaching teachers — I’ve learned a few lessons about lesson planning. 

As a result of my and my students’ mishaps, I can assure you that lesson planning works. I have identified four different important benefits of planning lessons in advance.

It means you are more prepared to teach

In general, lesson planning means you are more prepared to teach. Even if the topic is one I’ve taught before, reviewing the lesson plan helps. 

I sometimes make a new one because each class of students is slightly different, and technological changes may result in modifications to an existing plan. 

You can work through the timing of each lesson segment, from the introduction (or continuation) of a concept to the wrap-up and closure for the day. Planning means you’ve identified example problems, props/learning aids, and/or videos queued up and ready to go.

You can anticipate student misconceptions through lesson planning

While you can’t always put yourself in the intellectual shoes of your students, especially as a rookie teacher, you can think about their prior knowledge and what ideas in the lesson will feel new and unfamiliar to them. 

A seasoned teacher will already have common misconceptions and questions from previous classes. 

It smooths instructional delivery

A third benefit of lesson planning is smooth instructional delivery. You won’t stumble over explanations, and you will find you improvise with more confidence because you’re not winging it. (I’ve done that, and rarely does it end well.) 

Now, this doesn’t mean the students won’t do or ask something that throws you. In those cases, tell them finding the answer to their question is your “homework” and keep it moving. Just make sure you do it because they will ask you the next day.

You will know exactly where you’d like the lesson to start and end

Lastly, the controlled instructional experience falls right in line with smooth delivery. When you plan, you know exactly where you’d like the lesson to start and end. You’ve thought about how you want to guide your students through the concept, and you’re navigating them with knowledge and forethought. 

Think about it like being their tour guide. Sure, you’ve taken this route a million times, but why not check Google maps to ensure nothing’s changed? 

While different teacher education programs have different versions of a lesson plan guide, they all have one. (If you’re in a traditional K-12, you may have to submit them as part of your unit plan, which is something most colleges don’t require.) 

Whether or not you’re required to make lesson plans, they’re helpful. Even a scribbled plan will help improve theprocess more than nothing. There is no shame in an internet search for ideas if you’re at a total loss or have asked a mentor teacher for pointers. 

I’ve been a new teacher, an experienced teacher with a new course, and a seasoned teacher with a familiar course. In every scenario, taking some time to think through the lesson has never failed me. I can’t say the same for jumping in without a plan.

Hannah Lynock

Hannah Lynock

English Teacher | Lead Subject Mentor for Trainee Teachers | Private Tutor, Sherpa Online

It can be satisfying and encouraging

It’s hard to find a teacher who, if they’re completely honest, hasn’t fallen into a rut with their lesson planning. Quickly throwing together some activities in a decent order is easily done in such a relentlessly stressful profession. 

However, revisiting the basics and getting curious again about why things we do are important can revitalize us, giving us a much-needed boost, especially during stressful periods. 

So often, we can get bogged down in marking, meetings, and admin, leaving lesson plans a simple scribble in a planner, and yet I’m sure most educators would agree that delivering a carefully considered lesson with a clear direction and sense of momentum is one of the most satisfying parts of being a teacher. 

I’m also sure that most teachers are aware of the research into what makes the most impact on students’ learning. It’s not the marking, meetings, or spreadsheets; it’s those meaningful and purposeful lessons. 

So let’s remind ourselves of why lesson planning is essential, in the hope it might give us the fuel we need to make it to the end of the winter, spring, or summer term.

Lesson planning is a map of a destination

A sequence of well-planned lessons is a map of a destination. What is the destination? It might be GCSE or A-level results or an end-of-term assessment. It might be getting your class to finally construct a cohesive essay or simply ensuring the curriculum is covered. 

Whatever the endpoint, it will be hard to get there if you don’t plan a route. 

Lesson planning gives you time to consider the needs of your classes

When we’re not giving enough thought to planning a sequence of lessons, it can be tempting to try and tackle too many topics or areas at once as we don’t have a clear idea of timing or how we might build meaningfully upon students’ knowledge or skills. This means nothing gets done in the time and detail required. 

Lesson planning gives you time to consider the needs and progress of your classes carefully.

Knowing a class well is the difference between simply delivering content and making an impact. Of course, in an ideal world, each student would have lessons tailored to them personally, but with most teachers facing classrooms of between 25 and 32 students, the best we can do is deliver lessons that best suit a particular group. 

Planning lessons with deliberate care and attention allows us to reflect upon their previous learning, current progress, preferences, and next steps. 

Lesson planning makes us more reflective practitioners

Sitting down to methodically plan a sequence of lessons is an excellent way to reflect upon our students’ progress and our own performance. We might discover that we rely too heavily on a particular method and begin to experiment with a wider range of activities to engage our students. 

We might note that certain concepts aren’t being grasped as a step has been missed, one which we may not have considered before. 

Teachers tend to have the highest expectations of themselves and so often focus on their areas for improvement, but self-reflection is also a chance to acknowledge and utilize the things you do best and enjoy your everyday successes. 

I acknowledge that teaching is an intense profession, so “slowing down” may not feel like an option. The to-do list is never-ending, and the demands on teachers grow every year. 

However, taking the time to plan lessons properly can be satisfying and encouraging, giving us an important reminder of the importance of the essential work we do. 

Jennifer Holt

Jennifer Holt

Teacher | Early Education Expert | Founder, Happy Teacher Mama | Podcast Host, “The Classroom Exit Strategies Podcast”

Lesson planning is one of those topics that can be super-polarizing. There are those who believe in having an entire year planned out ahead of time, while others believe in letting the current interest of the day guide the lesson.

However, having lesson plans is important for three specific reasons.

Lesson planning provides structure

We all need structure and boundaries. It gives us complete freedom because we know what we can and cannot do. This same rule applies to lesson planning.  

When teachers have created lesson plans, they know the following:

  • What they need to accomplish.
  • When they plan to accomplish it.
  • How they will reach the final destination.

This allows teachers to stay focused when things inevitably go awry because they will! It also gives us the ability to build in extra time when we see potential pitfalls on the horizon.

One great example is holidays. Kids love holidays, but this love brings a plethora of potential chaos and distraction.  

By planning lessons ahead of time, you can cover the most important material far enough in advance of the holidays that students actually absorb the information.

Then once the content has been mastered, you are free to add in some holiday-themed activities that keep students engaged while simultaneously keeping your plans on track to meet the final outcome.

Lesson planning allows space for impromptu learning

An interesting by-product of having your lessons planned is that you can build space into the day for impromptu learning. Now, this may seem completely counter-intuitive, but let me explain.

Let’s say you notice that a few students seem to be struggling with negative mindsets. You decide to take some time at the moment to talk about how important mindset is to accomplishing goals.  

Obviously, this is different from the multiplication lesson you were planning to teach, but because you have a plan, you know it’s ok to take a “commercial break” in order to address the crucial topic that has presented itself.

You can share your personal experience when you had to dig deep into your own growth mindset to help your students realize this isn’t just a one-time thing they are encountering. 

Hearing that an adult has gone through a similar experience gives your students:

  • A new appreciation for the struggle.
  • Respect you because you were vulnerable by sharing your own struggles.
  • A new life skill.

And all of this was made possible because you created your lesson plan in advance! 

Without a lesson plan, you would have been at the mercy of feeling overwhelmed with the idea of shifting gears or changing plans because you wouldn’t know what was coming up next or how to shift around the other learning blocks.

But because you had the lesson plan, you were prepared and already knew what you would do.

Lesson planning creates accountability 

Let’s admit it, we all have days where we are not at our best. In fact, some days, we don’t feel like teaching at all.  

Maybe you’re sick, or something is going on that has taken your attention away from your job. Regardless of the reason, no one is always completely mentally present.

Having lesson plans already created allows you to do your job well regardless of how you feel at the moment. With your lesson plans looking back at you, you’re immediately reminded of your final outcome goal, and you become accountable to complete what you previously decided to do.

While it’s entirely possible to have success without lesson plans occasionally, this isn’t a sustainable approach to teaching. So take the time to create lesson plans with built-in time for impromptu learning so that you are ready to keep yourself on track.

Pam Morris, MSEd

Pam Morris

Early Childhood Education Director, East Valley JCC

It ensures that all children have their learning goals met each day

Every week, teachers around the globe ponder this important subject: what will I teach this week? Where you teach has no bearing on this question; public, private, charter, home-school. 

The need is the same. As a teacher, it is imperative that one has a clear plan for the day, for the week, and for the year. Lesson planning in a classroom is so important for the quality of instruction provided and ensuring that all children have their learning goals met each day. 

It keeps a teacher on track

Lesson planning keeps a teacher on track and is a vital tool when the teacher is unable to be in the classroom due to an absence or other responsibilities. With clear plans, materials provided, and learning goals clearly established, most children can have a successful day, and ultimately, so can each teacher. 

As a first-year teacher, I relied on my lesson plans exclusively. I needed to think out my day ahead of time, so I was organized and had the confidence to lead my students with minimal chaos. 

The more specific I could be, the more comfortable I felt. The plan and the structure were my lifelines at the beginning of my career. As I grew in confidence, the lesson plans were more for the administration and subs. 

They provided the structure and details that the principal needed to make sure that I was meeting all of the requirements set forth by the district. 

It enables teachers to create a structured and well-planned classroom

However, as a director, I now see another layer of importance that should be attributed to lesson plans. While as an experienced teacher, I felt that I could create a structured, well-run classroom, as a director, I am not sure that I was able to meet each child’s individual needs when I didn’t have a written plan. 

It helps teachers to focus on the individual goals of students

The written plans kept me on track and created the framework for learning. They also helped keep me focused on the individual goals of each of my students, so they were reaching their full potential in each area of the classroom. 

Kelly Mason

Kelly Mason

Tutor Lead & Content Editor, TheTutorLink

Lesson planning is vital to have a schedule for every lesson that is to be taught. However, the following reasons are crucial for lesson planning:

It ensures effective instruction

Lesson planning is important for effective instruction. Through lesson planning, teachers can structure a lesson in a way that allows students to learn the material in a logical, coherent fashion. 

It also provides the teacher with a structure and a plan of action. It outlines the goals, objectives, materials, and activities that will be used to teach the lesson. The lesson plan also includes an assessment component to ensure that students have mastered the content and met the objectives. 

It promotes efficiency

Lesson planning helps teachers save time and energy. Rather than creating a lesson on the fly, teachers can plan out the material in advance and develop an effective and efficient structure for the lesson. 

It also promotes efficiency by providing a clear structure and objectives for a lesson. This allows the teacher to plan their time efficiently, as they know exactly what content needs to be covered and how. 

Additionally, it can help to streamline the lesson by providing a step-by-step guide for the teacher and students to follow, ensuring that all topics are covered in the allotted time. 

Enhances student engagement

By planning ahead, teachers can create engaging lessons that help to keep students engaged and interested in the material. By providing hands-on activities, visuals, and other engaging components, teachers can help students stay focused and motivated as they learn.

Having a lesson plan can also help the teacher review and adjust their future lessons to enhance students’ engagement.

It is the main component of teaching

Lesson planning is an essential component of successful teaching. It is the process of organizing and preparing a lesson plan that is intended to facilitate student learning. 

Lesson planning helps teachers ensure that they provide students with the best possible instruction by setting objectives, selecting appropriate materials, and creating effective activities and assessments.

Additionally, lesson planning helps teachers to stay organized and on track during lesson delivery. 

It helps in understanding students’ needs

There are several reasons why lesson planning is so important. First, lesson planning helps teachers better understand their students and their needs. 

By taking the time to plan, teachers can think through the activities and assessments they will use to meet the learning objectives for their students. 

This allows teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the individual needs of each student. Second, lesson planning helps to ensure that the instruction is well organized.

Karen Southall Watts

Karen Southall Watts

Professor in Humanities | Author, “The Solo Workday“ and “Success In College: Strategies for New Grads and Non-Trads

Though poet Robert Burns has cautioned us that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, educators need to plan, even if those plans are upended like the mouse in the field. The reasons are both ethical and practical.

The ethical case for lesson planning

Good teaching and learning happen best within a respectful relationship. Educators trust that students come to us open-minded and willing to learn. In turn, students expect us to be prepared. 

A learning relationship forms when we are honest about our expertise and its limits and come to our students ready to engage and create the environment for learning. 

Coming to class with a plan says to our students:

  • I care enough about you to come prepared.
  • You can relax and give yourself over to learning because I’ve set the stage.
  • We may discover lots of unexpected things together, but we aren’t directionless.

Lesson planning, like professionalism and preparedness in any occupation, demonstrates respect for your students, colleagues, and institution.

The practical case for lesson planning

Do we need to write this down? Is this on the test? How am I going to use this in real life? Students expect educators to be subject matter experts, to present information effectively, to give the “why” behind lessons, and to have a plan. 

K-12 students need the reassurance that teachers are ready and prepared to guide them. Adult learners, ever conscious of the fact that they are paying for education, expect instructors to aid them in getting results. 

Administrators rely on well-planned and executed courses to meet credentialing guidelines and deliver graduates ready for their next education or career steps. None of this happens without careful planning. 

Solid lesson plans provide:

  • Assurance that class time is used effectively.
  • An overview of learning objectives and deliverables as well as methods and activities.
  • A solid framework that can be modified in emergencies and re-engaged afterward.
  • Key information for parents, tutors, counselors, or other support professionals as they assist students.
  • A structure that may decrease anxiety for learners with academic barriers.
  • A roadmap for classes that allow instructors and students to focus on each session’s core objectives.

Lesson planning, while essential, is far from exciting. It requires hours of research and sometimes equal hours of tedious paperwork or online work. Institutions can be reluctant to pay for these invisible hours.

Related: 40+ Reasons Why Research Is Important in Education

Budgets for non-instructional pay may be set by non-teaching administrators who don’t realize how long it takes to create innovative teaching plans. And, like the wee mousie in Burns’ poem, even the most carefully planned lessons can be overturned by individual or institutional emergencies. 

Still, lesson planning remains an essential part of teaching that demonstrates our ethical and professional commitment to the education process.

Arlene Meckes

Arlene Meckes

Middle School & High School Teacher, Twins And Teaching

Lesson plan for less stress

Have you ever stood in front of a class full of students with no idea what to do next? It is not the best feeling in the world and can leave you feeling stressed. Teachers know that when you have a well-planned lesson, students stay engaged, and most importantly, they learn. 

Students can sense if you are prepared and will behave accordingly. Lesson planning is arguably the most important aspect of teaching. 

Knowing how long each activity in a lesson plan will take and having the materials ready to go before the day begins will help with student behavior because there will be less downtime for students to do things they shouldn’t. 

The lesson should be “tight” and well-timed with elements such as an objective clearly stated, an anticipatory set, teacher modeling, student practice, and formative assessments. 

How is it done?

The first place to start is your content area’s local, state, and national standards. These are the concepts you should be teaching and will help you design your curriculum map. Using a unit plan and curriculum map at the beginning of the school year or semester gives a general outline of the year. 

Within the unit plans, having weekly objectives written down will help keep you focused. The daily lesson plans will have you feeling planned and ready. Thinking ahead about what you want the students to learn will keep the content moving in the right direction. 

Less stress benefits everyone

Heading into the year, the week, or the day knowing what will be taught will reduce teacher stress significantly. Lesson planning with a teacher buddy can be extremely helpful and can help keep you accountable. 

When teachers feel prepared and planned, students feel secure and safe in the classroom. This leads to fewer behavior problems for administrators to handle. Teachers need support in the lesson planning process, however, including professional development on how to correctly lesson plan as well as support from administration and their colleagues. 

Teachers should understand that they can change their plans if students are not responding to what was originally planned; this does not have to be “set in stone.”

Facing a class full of students knowing the plan and approximately how long it will take will make your teaching life more enjoyable and a lot less stressful. 

Caroline Farkas

Caroline Farkas

Math Education Specialist | Founder, Doodles and Digits

It allows teachers to think through the components of what makes a great lesson

Lesson planning is one of the most important things a teacher can do to help students succeed. It is crucial to excellent teaching because it allows teachers to thoroughly think through all the components of what makes a great lesson and precisely what they want the learning target. 

A lesson with a learning target of adding fractions will be vastly different than trying to identify the theme of a story. After a learning target has been chosen, a lesson plan will be designed to fit the end goal perfectly. 

When a lesson plan is created, there are many facets that a teacher should consider. Those things include:

  • Students’ prior knowledge.
  • Interests.
  • What gaps need to be filled.
  • What standards need to be taught. 

Often, a teacher will give a pre-assessment test to see what prior knowledge students have so that they can fill in learning gaps or differentiate the lessons based on their students’ individual needs. 

As a teacher, I used to change my lesson plans each year, even for the same learning targets, because students’ interests and prior knowledge often differed! 

One year I might design a lesson with a sports theme because I had many students who loved sports, while the next year, I might teach that same standard using video games.

Specifically, in math, it is crucial that students are taught things in a particular order because certain math concepts are built on other concepts. For example, if a student does not know how to place value functions, they will not be able to add or subtract large numbers fluently. 

Lesson planning allows the teacher to be fully prepared by thinking through all the variables that come with teaching, including the essential skills students need to complete the lesson. 

It also allows teachers to find best practices, research-based methods, review materials, and additional resources for students. Additional resources that a teacher might want to use are engaging videos, games, math manipulatives, or hands-on activities. 

It allows you to reflect as a teacher

Finally, lesson planning is important because it allows you to reflect as a teacher. After a lesson, I am able to go through all the components and determine if students achieved the learning target. If it is successful, I can keep it for the following year. 

If it is unsuccessful, I can brainstorm ways to reteach that topic to students and improve upon it. Without a lesson plan, it would be extremely difficult to track in years to come what was taught, how it was taught, and how successful it was.

Zachery VanderGraaff

Zachery VanderGraaff

Music Educator, Dynamic Music Room

Too often, teachers will start a lesson with a broad goal in mind. “Teach this skill.” “Do this chapter.” In-depth lesson plans force you to take this to the next level, increasing the learning exponentially! 

Sure, we want them to learn X, Y, and Z. But we don’t all learn the same way, and learning is done best when it’s presented multiple times with different avenues. 

“Thin” lesson plans get repetitive. “Thick” lesson plans give you more tools in your toolbox. Now, you still want to teach X, Y, and Z, but you’re ready to use tools A, B, and C to get it done. 

It gives you space when things go wrong 

I’ve never had a lesson that went off without a hitch, and I’ll bet any teacher would be hard-pressed to say their go perfectly too. Things go wrong. Kids act out. There are a bazillion announcements. It starts snowing. The heater makes horrible banging noise. 

If you rely on thin lesson plans (or no lesson plans), you’re asking for these situations to come in and derail you. By having the plans done in detail, you don’t have to wonder where you were or were going. It’s there for you to help recoup and guide the learning time. 

It breeds teachable moments

One of the most extensive critiques of planning “too much” is that it kills flexibility and removes the students from the equation. All those beautiful moments sparking a lifelong desire to learn will be gone. 

I couldn’t disagree more. Detailed lesson plans increase efficiency. Students learn faster, and you teach better. As a result, do you have more time to stop and smell the roses or smell the pencils? 

On top of this extra time, and because your plans are guiding your intent, you’ll see when a teachable moment can cover the concept better than your plans would have in the first place! I plan out almost every minute of my 45-minute classes. 

I end up throwing out about 1/2 of the lesson. I don’t regret it at all! Better moments came, and we accomplished the same goal. But those moments don’t come unless you’ve done the work ahead of time. 

Liz Daly

Liz Daly

High School English Teacher, The Lit Lady

It helps teachers to create lessons that encourage students to work toward goals

Lesson planning is essential in the high school English classroom. Many effective teachers plan backward, deciding on the end goals first and then creating lessons that encourage students to work toward those goals throughout the unit continuously. 

This ensures that all lessons, activities, projects, homework assignments, etc., are of value. Not only is this an efficient way to work, but it also creates an atmosphere of trust between the teacher and the students. 

No one wants to feel as though their time is being wasted or that they are working to fill the class period simply. 

Students are much more likely to be engaged in everything that a teacher does in class

Students are much more likely to be engaged in everything that a teacher does in class (even the boring stuff!) if they trust that the teacher has competently and thoroughly planned out a path designed for them to learn and succeed. 

If teachers plan with overall student success in mind, the students are going to feel more confidentlearn more, and do better

Rachel Gold Cederbaum

Rachel Gold Cederbaum

Writing & Academic Coach, Gold Signature Writers

Teachers come prepared to meet the students where they get them to where they need to be

When I started teaching in the fall of 2004, I was 21 years old and fresh out of college. I had begged the administrators to place me in a first-year English class (which they happily obliged, most teachers ask for seniors) so that there was a few years gap between my students and me. 

In my first year, I cried more than I would like to admit, and I always worked 10-12 hour days. I arrived at 7 am with the goal of making it to a 6:30 spin class at the gym across the street from my school. 

I lived at my desk after hours, mostly grading and planning. I also camped at the local Barnes & Nobles for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays in downtown Bethesda (which is now sadly an Anthropologie). 

Besides my mentor, who is still one of my closest friends almost 20 years later, what saved me was the massive binder of lesson plans. It was scripted and detailed; it was handed to me on my first day. 

In fact, each day was mapped out from start to finish and on and on through the end of the year. Now, seasoned and more confident (most days), I would cringe at following those lessons, but 21-year-old me found them empowering and comforting

I had a script to follow, thoughtful, critical-thinking questions to ask my students, and literary, plot, character, and theme notes to address. I also had writing prompts for formative and summative exams. 

I had ideas for homework assignments, creative projects with rubrics, and many talking points that were well-written and thought-provoking.

Admittedly, I am type A. I like to have my days, weeks, and months planned out. Flash forward 18 years, I have three small kids, and I own an academic coaching practice, so my days are never straightforward or predictable. 

However, in the classroom, these detailed lesson plans gave me suggestions for how to characterize Atticus Finch and analyze his final speech to the jury, how to close read and discuss the rhetorical strategies Steinbeck used in Of Mice and Men, and most importantly, how to get from 7-3 still standing, well-spoken, and prepared to teach 27 14-year-olds (times five classes a day).

After teaching freshman and loving it, I taught 11th-grade English, IB English, and AP English. The binder evolved with my experience, and the lesson plans became more concise. I no longer relied on five typed pages of notes. Instead, my plans included my objective and a bulleted list of my agenda items. 

Always an over-planner, I usually got through half of what I had planned in any given period, but I was always prepared to fill the time with close reading, synthesis essay practice, rhetorical analysis discussions, in-class debates, Socratic seminars, and argumentative writing. 

Today, when I speak with educators on my team, I always encourage them to plan their sessions the way they plan for their classes. I have consistently witnessed in and out of the classroom that teachers are the hardest working, thoughtful, and detail-oriented professionals. 

Teachers are the experts in their particular field; whether it is advanced math support, executive functioning, or reading support, teachers come prepared to meet the students where they are and get them to where they need to be (with a five-page single-spaced lesson plan or a bulleted list, of course).

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

Senior Editor, Tandem

Whether you are a teacher by trade or you are responsible for teaching something at work, there is something to be said about being organized. You might be the most educated person on a subject, but when it comes time to teach that subject to others, you need to prepare a plan of action. 

If you don’t, you might find that you don’t cover all the information you need to pass on. This is one reason that having a lesson plan is essential, but there are others.

It sets expectations for others 

Those you are teaching like to know what is expected of them. Providing them with a syllabus or lesson plan will give them a better idea of what they will be doing over the course of the class or instruction.

It helps you to manage your time 

Some lessons will take longer than others. Few courses go on indefinitely, so you must ensure that you have the time to go over everything. You want to account for the time you will need to work on one subject, so you will know how much time you have for teaching the next.

It provides structure 

Many students or learners can become dismayed when they are taught in one style on one day and another style the next day. They almost need to switch brains to accommodate being taught differently on different days. Having structure is good for everyone as it helps to keep things consistent.

It makes you SMART 

This isn’t referring to intelligence but rather the theory of creating something SpecificMeasurableAttainableRelevant, and Time-Based. Establishing a plan that relies on the SMART principle can help everyone create and achieve their goals.

It will ensure you are prepared 

You shouldn’t go into a lesson without knowing what you will talk about. This is because you might not have all the tools necessary to discuss that subject. However, if you have a lesson plan, you can prepare beforehand for the lesson you will give.

Don’t worry if you need to change a lesson plan that you have set. Things happen, things change, and things can still go well when they do. Start preparing your lesson plan, and you’ll be glad you did. Your students will be, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important thing in lesson planning?

When it comes to lesson planning, one of the most crucial factors is understanding the students and their needs. While a detailed lesson plan is important, it won’t be effective if it doesn’t connect with the students or meet their requirements.

Conducting a needs assessment at the beginning of the academic year or semester is one way to get to know the students better. Teachers can ask questions about their interests, goals, and learning styles, as well as conduct pre-assessments to gauge their knowledge.

Being flexible and willing to adjust the lesson plan as needed is also an important aspect of understanding the students. If a teacher notices that the students are struggling with a particular concept or are particularly interested in a particular activity, they shouldn’t hesitate to make adjustments to better meet their needs.

While having clear objectives, engaging activities, and effective assessments are also crucial to successful lesson planning, an in-depth understanding of the students and their needs is essential.

Therefore, teachers should build their lessons around the needs and interests of the students to ensure that the lesson plan is as effective as possible. By doing so, they will be able to make a significant impact on the student’s learning experience.

What are the qualities of a good lesson plan?

Great lesson plans are essential for effective teaching and learning. A good lesson plan should be well-structured, engaging, and relevant to the needs of your students. Here are some qualities that make a lesson plan effective:

Clear objectives: A good lesson plan should have clear and measurable objectives that outline what students will learn during the lesson.

Proper sequencing: The lesson should be organized in a logical sequence that enables students to follow along easily and build on their prior knowledge.

Active engagement: A great lesson plan should incorporate opportunities for students to actively participate in their learning, such as discussions, group activities, and hands-on projects.

Differentiation: Effective lesson plans should take into account the varying learning styles and abilities of the students in your class and provide differentiated activities to meet their individual needs.

Assessment and evaluation: The lesson plan should include assessments that allow you to measure whether students have met the objectives and identify areas where they may need additional support.

Flexibility: Good lesson plans should be flexible enough to allow for adjustments during the lesson based on student needs, questions, and feedback.

Relevance: A good lesson plan should be relevant to students’ lives and experiences, making connections between the content and their interests, backgrounds, and future goals.

Overall, a well-designed lesson plan can enhance student learning and engagement, while helping teachers to effectively manage their classrooms and achieve their instructional goals.

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