How Do I Create Successful Lesson Plans?

Dan Cavallari

As a teacher, you will need to do a fair amount of planning in order to engage students in the material being taught and convey all key concepts effectively. The best way to start doing so is to develop effective lesson plans. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing lesson plans is the fact that students respond well to consistency and may have difficulty with rough transitions. Your plans should therefore be created in some sort of logical chronology so concepts from one lesson will carry over into the next lessons.

Most teachers write lesson plans for every day of class.
Most teachers write lesson plans for every day of class.

Most teachers write lesson plans for every day of class. The plans should include only a few key concepts — too many key concepts can lead to confusion and can prevent retention of information. A good way to clearly define the concepts is to write them on the board at the beginning of class; if students know what they are about to learn, they are more likely to understand the progression of received information. Stated goals should be a part of all lesson plans you write. It may be helpful to do a quick recap at the beginning of every class period to briefly remind students what was taught in the previous lesson, as well as how that learned information pertains to the current lesson.

Successful lesson plans keep students engaged so they don't become bored.
Successful lesson plans keep students engaged so they don't become bored.

Your lesson plans should also include learning objectives and the learning standards of your state or region. This will give you, the teacher, a better understanding of what you are teaching and why you are teaching it. You must be more prepared than the students, and you must have confidence in the material you are presenting. Sometimes an English teacher may need to refresh himself on the definition of a gerund, or a math teacher may need to go back and research the Pythagorean theorem. The teacher needs to be prepared and confident in the material before presenting it to the students.

Sometimes the most well laid-out lesson plans fall flat. The students do not respond to the materials or the activities, or the activities you thought would work well become too complicated or tedious. It is okay to stray from the lesson plans if this happens. Having a back-up plan is always a good idea, and allowing students to help guide the lesson is an even better idea. If your plans don't work, modify them for next time, and keep in mind that plans you used last year for a different group of students may not work exceptionally well for this year's students. Be willing to adapt, even if it means shifting gears mid-lesson.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - If a teacher is clever and a little bit lucky, they can still fit in a lot of spontaneous learning. If you keep in mind what they need to learn, you can just relate it to whatever topic is interesting them. If there's a new film out they are all excited about, use that topic to get them writing essays, for example. If you look up lesson plan templates they usually have a bit of leeway in their topic and that's what you need to exploit.


@croydon - It's just so difficult to make time for moments like that in the average school these days. There are so many things that you must do that you have to schedule them or you won't fit them all in.

Tests alone take up a huge amount of time, but you've also got to give your students the best chance of passing those tests.

Then, there's the fact that it takes a large amount of time to properly plan for any lesson and you can see why lesson plan worksheets are so popular. At least then you know you're giving them what they need to know and it doesn't take every scrap of spare time you've got.


You should always try to make time for what they call teachable moments. If your students show interest in something, like a bird out in the playground or a particular career in a book, then you should take advantage of their interest to teach them something about it. A teachable moment could lead to a long term project. Or it might just end up being a few moments of discussion.

Either way, you know you've got their attention and their interest. That is enough to ensure that they will learn something.

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