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Assisted Lesson Planning
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Prior to many of your teaching practice sessions on the CELTA course, you will be given assisted lesson planning time where your tutor will try to ensure that your lesson plan for the next TP has a good chance of resulting in a satisfactory lesson.
If you really want to ensure you get the most out of these sessions, these tips should help you to do that.
Look at the TP Notes
Depending on your course provider, you may have TP notes that you are expected to use to plan your lesson. If you have these, before the assisted lesson planning session, make sure you look at them and know what you have been assigned to teach. Make sure you know which exercises have been assigned to you and which belong to your peers.
Although your tutor might have put these together, they probably do not know them inside out. It will save them and your colleagues a lot of time, if you all know exactly what you are supposed to be teaching.
Know What You Want to Teach
If you have these TP notes, look at the materials you are supposed to be teaching from. Make sure you understand what type of lesson it is going to be (e.g. vocabulary, grammar, speaking, etc). This may sound obvious, especially if you have a course book where it is clearly labelled, but it can be less obvious. If you have a reading text for example, this could form part of a reading lesson, but equally it could be intended to teach vocabulary.
If you don’t have TP notes and therefore have the freedom to choose what you want to teach, you need to have some idea. This shouldn’t be all that difficult. Pick up a course book at the level of your students and choose something that you think will be relevant to their interests.
Have a Plan Already
Assisted lesson planning doesn’t mean that your CELTA tutor is going to plan the lesson for you. You should know what you want to teach and have something of a lesson outline already. You don’t need to have planned every last detail, but you should have a pretty good idea of the stages of the lesson.
The more you have done towards the planning of the lesson, the more the tutor will be able to elevate the lesson plan. If you’ve hardly done anything, the tutor will be concerned with the most fundamental aspects such as the lesson framework or shape, whereas if this is clearly in order, the tutor might be able to focus more on aspects of the micro-staging (i.e. the more detailed procedures for delivering a stage).
Assisted lesson planning time is limited, so the tutor may only have 15 minutes per teacher. You want to spend as much of those 15 minutes as possible talking about more higher level issues than those you should have already figured out.
Look for Problems
Before the assisted lesson planning session, make sure you think through all of the activities you are planning. Think about what students are doing at every stage and how you will manage materials. If possible, get other people to do the activities you want to do, or at least do any exercises you can on your own.
Your tutor will be looking for problems so that they can help you to address them. They don’t want to see a lesson fail, so they will be trying to guide you to address these problems in your planning. If you’ve already found these problems, you can point them out to the tutors, who can guide you to or even suggest a solution. If you already have a solution, then your tutor can focus on other issues.
Be Alert and Ready
Make sure you are listening and ready to take part during the assisted lesson planning, even when your colleague is presenting their lesson. This applies even if they teach on a different day to you. Tutors often like to throw out questions to the whole group and you can easily score a few brownie points with your tutor by being alert and answering.
Although there isn’t any criteria in the CELTA 5 that directly relates to your performance in assisted lesson planning, your comments can help to persuade a tutor of your competence in various areas. For example, making a helpful comment to one of your colleagues about an area you may have appeared weak in may just make your tutor re-evaluate their position on that criteria.
Sometimes teachers do get very excited about what they plan to teach. In their excitement, their description of the plan comes across all jumbled up and confused. It may not necessarily have been a bad lesson or idea, but unfortunately, the tutor is struggling to understand what they plan to do and has to spend time unpacking it.
Cover the basics quickly. Tell the tutor what type of lesson it is and what framework you are following. Then perhaps tell them what target language there is and the lesson aim.
Going through the plan itself, deal with the lead in quickly, or possibly even skip it until you have explained other stages. Some teachers will spend three minutes explaining their great lead in idea, even though they only plan for it to be 3 minutes of the lesson.
You also don’t want to spend a lot of time explaining things that you are more or less lifting from a course book. If you are doing it as per the course book, just say this and move on. If you have adapted it, say how and move on.
You really want to spend the most time explaining the longest stages of the lesson, in addition to stages where you are clarifying language.
Expect the Obvious Questions
There are certain questions that your tutor will likely ask you as you explain your plan. Again you can try to be prepared for these. I have called them obvious questions, but to be honest if I think back to when I did my CELTA, I guess they were not so obvious.
- Will students work individually, in pairs or in groups?
- Will students check their answers together?
- When/how will you give students the materials?
- Will they listen/read once or more times?
- What will the students do while they read/listen?
- Which of these words do you think students will find difficult?
- What do students find difficult about this grammar structure?
- Could the instructions here be unclear? Why?
- What are you going to do while the students are speaking together?
- Will there be any language feedback? How?
- Could you hand that over to students to do?
- What will you do if students find it too easy/challenging?