5 Tips for English Lesson Plans That Save Valuable Time
When I took my TEFL class, I received a lot of training on lesson preparation. This was extremely helpful for learning things such as target language goals, target activities, and different methods to engage various learning styles. However, one thing that my class didn’t really prepare me for was for how to manage time effectively when you have a high number of classes. As a TEFL English Trainer in Germany, I teach a lot of different courses – about 15 to 20. I wrote down a range because some of the classes I teach only meet once a month.
So in a perfect world, I would create detailed lesson plans for all of my classes – but that would be impossible. Here are a few tips to help you save time preparing for your English lessons that I have learned from my experiences.
Whenever you start a new class, always take notes on the students. Find out their jobs, their hobbies, and a few fun facts. I do this every time and it helps me not only manage remembering things about all my students, but keeps me focused during the introductions. Moreover, once your class finishes for the day, write down what you did. This doesn’t have to be a detailed list. I typically just write down the page numbers from the book, conversation topic, and if something was particularly difficult for the students. Additionally, I write down a few things I want to do for the next lesson. This helps me save time later as I already have a general idea of what I want to do for the next class.
Make Your Lesson Plans Once a Week
Set aside time once a week to do ALL of your lesson planning. I know some teachers who plan lessons every day. This is not a bad practice, if you only have a few lessons per day. However, after a long day of 8-10 lessons, I don’t want to go home and have to do more work.
First of all, I use Google to schedule all of my appointments and lessons. This way, I can quickly see where I have to go the next day and what I need to do. Moreover, I set aside time (typically Sundays) where I plan everything I need for the week. By using Sunday, I can mentally prepare myself for the week and prepare all of my classes on the same day. If a class requires you to make copies or prepare something more time-intensive block off an hour during the week to do this. I often plan my lessons and Sunday and if I need to make copies, I go to the school to save my ink (my printer was relatively cheap and thus the ink is a bit expensive).
Save and Organize all Material
Anytime you have to create a lesson or syllabus from scratch, save it and back it up! I saved a few things at the beginning, but after a computer crash I lost literally everything (including invoices I needed for taxes). Make a folder on your desktop and inside the folder, create additional folders. I labeled mine ALevel, BLevel, Clevel, and a few others. You can decide on what works best for you. (Note: ALevel is for beginners, B is for intermediate, and C is advanced as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.)
Ask Students to Bring in Material
This is not only a good tip for saving time but for making a better learning experience for your students. Ask them to bring in emails, marketing materials (in English!), or anything else related to their job. By doing this, you can get a better insight of their daily tasks and create more impactful lessons for your students. I do this all the time at the beginning of a class start.
Keep a Small Book for all Classes
Take a small book and create an ongoing to-do list. Quite often you will have small things that come up during your lessons. A few examples might be to send a reminder email, make a new attendance list, bring a copy of ABC for the next lesson, or a room change. Review your reminders often, but at the very least, review every Thursday and Monday.