Any experienced teacher will tell you that lesson planning is a big part of the job. Teachers around the world routinely spend as much as half of their working time on non-teaching activities, and lesson planning accounts for much of that time.1, 2
Lesson planning is how teachers synthesize the curriculum goals with pedagogy and knowledge of their specific teaching context.3 Ask ten teachers about the benefits of lesson planning, and you might very well get ten unique answers. There are also different opinions about how far ahead a teacher should plan lessons. Some recommend working a week out, while others advocate planning a month ahead.4, 5
In the end, though, creating successful learning outcomes for students is the goal. Although well-designed lesson plans take time and thought, it's an investment that can provide returns in many ways. In this post, we explore the elements to consider when creating lesson plans and what factors teachers can include in planning to assure success for themselves, their classrooms and, most importantly, their students.
The Many Reasons Why Lesson Planning Is Important
Effective lesson planning contributes to successful learning outcomes for students in several ways. A well-designed lesson plan:
- Helps students and teachers understand the goals of an instructional module
- Allows the teacher to translate the curriculum into learning activities
- Aligns the instructional materials with the assessment
- Aligns the assessment with the learning goal
- Helps assure that the needed instructional materials are available
- Enables the teacher to thoughtfully address individual learning needs among students
Effective lesson planning can also contribute to the teacher’s own success and well-being. Teachers teach because they want to support students, and effective lesson planning can contribute to job satisfaction when a lesson is successful or a student does well on an assessment. Having a skillfully-planned lesson can also make the act of teaching more pleasurable by increasing the teacher’s confidence in themselves and letting them focus more on interaction with the students than on what is supposed to happen next. Importantly, good planning can save time by avoiding last-minute efforts to buy supplies or create materials needed for a day in the classroom. Teachers can use that reclaimed time for themselves or other parts of their lives, increasing work-life balance.
The Importance of Lesson Planning to Effective Curriculum Delivery
“Curriculum” is a word with many meanings, depending on the context. At the most abstract level, curriculum theory addresses such different aspects of teaching as what elements are included in the course of study, along with considerations of how it is taught and tested. See “What Are the 8 Types of Curriculum?” for more on curriculum theory.
Some curricula are more detailed and structured than others.6 Regardless of the level of detail, the importance of lesson planning is that it bridges the curriculum’s intent with the daily teaching and learning in a classroom. At a minimum, lesson planning adds the element of time, breaking the curriculum into units delivered each session. Usually, though, teachers incorporate their training and knowledge of their students into the task, translating a previously developed curriculum into an action plan for their classroom.
The Importance of Lesson Planning to Student Assessment
The lesson plan translates the curriculum into clear daily goals for student learning that include a description of the objective and a way to measure the student’s attainment of it.7 A few standard measurement methods are tests, homework assignments and group work. One benefit of the lesson plan is fitting the assessment to the particular goal while accounting for your specific situation. Some educational writers argue that teachers should design the evaluation before designing the learning activities.4 Working outward from the central idea of the learning objective allows teachers flexibility in choosing the type of assessment that will best suit their students and the classroom environment.
Why Lesson Planning Is Important for Classroom Management
Building the lesson plan outward from your learning goals also offers much-needed flexibility in adapting instructional delivery and classroom management during uncertain times. Classes that move from onsite to online or hybrid require different delivery methods, requiring adjustments to existing plans. Such situations highlight the importance of lesson planning in keeping the class moving smoothly from task to task regardless of the learning environment. Advance lesson planning also minimizes the need for discipline and allows you to make the most of your time with students.
Better Lesson Planning Creates More Student Success
Student success and good behavior are more likely when your pupils are actively engaged in classwork. A thoroughly planned lesson facilitates that desirable state by considering unique student educational needs. “All successful teachers need to be pupil-focused; in other words, you have to think about how the learning activity you have set up will be experienced by each pupil, and how this experience will generate your intended learning outcomes.”8
Better Lesson Planning Is Important for Teacher Success
Teacher success is predicated on student success. Beyond that, the documents you create as part of the planning process are usually part of your evaluation by school administrators. Therefore, having well-prepared and documented plans is an integral part of your success as a teacher. Your lesson plans also become a repository of your growing knowledge as you continue to teach. The importance of lesson planning in furthering your professional growth is undeniable. Cultivating good habits for preparing and reviewing your lesson plans prepares the ground for your success.
Keep Teaching While You Keep Learning at William and Mary
The William and Mary School of Education offers advanced instruction for education professionals in a well-designed, 100% online learning environment that allows you to study wherever you are when it’s convenient for you. The coursework, rooted in social justice, equity and inclusion, will help you become an expert, culturally responsive advocate for every student.
- Special Education (K-6)
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Continuing your professional education at the William and Mary School of Education will prepare you with a strong foundation in education research and core principles to lead transformative change, advocating for a more equitable tomorrow and building more inclusive classrooms and schools. Speak with an admissions advisor to learn more or start your application today.
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/5js64kndz1f3-en.pdf?expires=1642704108&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=793A8F13FA53BD6FF0680CA7F2DDD448
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from businessinsider.com/teachers-time-spent-after-school-work-2019-10#planning-lessons-can-take-several-hours-a-week-4
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from tesol.org/docs/default-source/books/14002_lesson-planning_ch-1
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from edutopia.org/blog/9-ways-plan-transformational-lessons-todd-finley
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, blog.planbook.com/lesson-plan-classroom-management/
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from https://www.edglossary.org/curriculum/
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from edutopia.org/article/how-universal-design-learning-can-help-lesson-planning-year
- Retrieved on January 20, 2022, from educationblog.oup.com/secondary/english/why-is-planning-so-important-for-effective-teaching