Now that you've written your syllabus, you're ready to tackle the next part: writing lesson plans.

Every classroom is different, but these steps apply to all of them. While writing your lesson plan, adjust this general advice to meet your specific needs.

A couple of things before we move on:

  • Write out each step in the process — you can adjust in the moment if part of the plan just isn't working, but having a specific plan to follow will keep your teaching focused. The more detailed your plan is, the better. Writing it out will also help you prepare to teach — after all, in going through this process, you'll have to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
  • Estimate the time each step in the lesson will require, and stick to your time limits while you teach.

Okay. Here comes step one:

Determine your goals

What do you want your students to accomplish in this lesson, and how does what they'll accomplish move them close to accomplishing their (and your) educational goals for the year?

It likely goes without saying, but every lesson you create should be guided by the goals you want students to achieve. It's easier to aim toward those goals when they're written down somewhere as part of the lesson plan.

At each step, ask yourself, "does what I'm adding right now help students reach the goal?" If so, great! If not, adapt or discard. It might hurt in the moment to realize you have to jettison something you've been working on, but if it makes for a stronger, tighter, more focused lesson, it's for the best.

Now, on to creating the actual lesson plan.

Remind students of past lessons/knowledge they'll need

With goals set, you can start preparing the lesson itself. One good way to start is by priming students by talking about the things they already know that will help them with the lesson.

If you were the teacher who taught your students this prerequisite knowledge or skill, all the better. You can remind them of that prior lesson and show them why it's relevant to what they're about to learn.

If the current lesson requires some skills students haven't worked on in a while, including some review time here might be a good idea. If you've administered a diagnostic assessment at the beginning of the year, ideally it will have revealed skill areas in which your students could use a little extra instruction — that way you'll be prepared and able to devote a little time to those areas. Of course, this is teaching — what would it be without a few surprises?

Introduce new information

Before the teaching comes the introducing. Now that you've talked about old skills, it's time to talk about new ones. This step involves three sub-steps:

  • Tell students what they're about to learn
  • Ask questions
  • Correct any misconceptions

Sub-step one is pretty self-explanatory.

In sub-step two, your goal is to find out what students already know (and, maybe more importantly, don't know) about the subject of the lesson.

In sub-step three, take the information about your students' knowledge you gained in sub-step two and correct anything they didn't get exactly right. Even if a misconception is minor, correct it here lest it grow into a larger problem later on.

Teach new information

Now that students are primed and ready, go into the lesson proper.

Every lesson is different, but this step must include your input, even if you're supervising and guiding rather than giving a lecture.

Give students time for practice and review

You've taught your students a skill or a new bit of knowledge; now it's time for them to work. This is the perfect time to get in there and work with them, correcting any mistakes they make or misconceptions they have.

You may need to work more closely with students who are having trouble. If you do, allow students who already "get it" to work independently — or empower proficient students to help their struggling peers.

Close the lesson

You're done! In this step, remind your students of what they've learned and assign any homework they need to complete. That's pretty much it!

Have any thoughts you'd like to share with your fellow teachers? Let them know in the comments!