Yitzha Sarwono

How important is lesson planning? – Yitzha Sarwono

Prepare for the Unexpected

Detailed lesson plan? Who needs it? Well, maybe we all do. Having a detailed lesson plan can really help you not only own your lesson, but also own your classroom. The first thing you have to realize, though, is that it’s all about outlook and outcome. When you have everything planned down to the finest details, you can be sure that the outcome can at least be something you’ve expected.

Birthday party, grocery shopping, holiday trip or wedding day: we all have prepared something in our life, right? Planning is something that comes naturally in our life. Planning your lesson involves using some of those same skills —  except that with a classroom lesson, your goal is to make sure the lesson is learned well by your students.

When planning a birthday party, you not only make sure there’s enough food for all, but also that the food is something everyone will enjoy: Not too spicy, not too oily, delicious and easy to digest during the fun busy moments. Got it? Now, apply this same idea to your classroom. Make sure your lesson is prepared well enough to feed everyone in class so that they all come out full of knowledge and eager to come back for more. To achieve that you’ll need some serious planning, not only carefully but also completely as you have to prepare for the unexpected. Acquiring this skill takes thinking and practice to own, and it won’t happen overnight, but it is a skill that will help define you as a teacher.

When my lesson has been laid down to the very details, it means not only have I taken a giant step toward owning the content I’m teaching and the methods I’m using (an important thing for me) but also that I can feel secure when I open the classroom door. I have brought my umbrella should things go wrong – and they will go wrong.

I teach kindergarten, so things can go way beyond unpredictable and right out of control sometimes because kids come in with a variety of swinging sleepy cranky moods. This is why I always make sure I have some topic-related fun back-up activities planned in case I need to get learners back on track.

Speaking of which, one time I planned a picnic on the playground to teach my class about adjectives. Of course it rained all day. Detailed planning allowed me to be able to switch the activity with some twists here and there to get my lesson done indoors without panic. This was my umbrella.

To plan your own classes down to the tiny details, here are some questions worth lingering on:

Topic of the lesson:

  • What do you  want students to learn?
  • How do you want them to understand?
  • What questions might pop out along the way?

Concept to be applied:

  • What are the skills I want my students to grasp?
  • What do I need them to understand more and first when I can’t get them to get all?
  • What do I want them to take away when the class is over?

Back up plans:

  • When I’m running out of time which ones could not be omitted and which one I could skip?
  • What activity to prepare should my plan not go well?

All in all, it all comes down to what you have in your bag. If you keep these things in mind, prepare adequately, and come in with the positive outlook, then things will be fine. With the right planning, you’ll know what kind of fun you can expect.

When you have your umbrella you can surely dance in the rain! Have fun planning everybody!

Published by

Yitzha Sarwono-Boon

Yitzha Sarwono (Icha) teaches in the Kidea Preschool and Kindergarten in Jakarta, Indonesia. She's passionate about English. She believes in collaboration, expanding her knowledge and building connections between teachers and encouraging their further progress. She is convinced that education is possible to come in many ways. She loves evolving and re-inventing herself in form of broaden her teaching subjects from Early learners to age of consent. She knows one is never too young or too old to learn. Visit Icha's blog: Yitzha Sarwono's Posterous

13 thoughts on “How important is lesson planning? – Yitzha Sarwono”

  1. Hi Icha!

    I loved the analogy with other events we commonly plan for. It’s true. I think planning gives us an upper hand. But I especially liked what you said about being prepared for the unexpected. That for me is one of the things that make a great teacher – and we can, as you said, in a way plan for the unplanned. You gave some great tips there.
    Thanks for this! I’m sharing with the other teachers at my school!



  2. Dear Ceci

    Thank you so much for your lovely support! All I did here really was just sharing my experience as Kindergarten teacher. Cause that’s who I am.

    But being one, I understand completely why a detailed lesson plan is needed. Cause there have only been a few days where things go as I’ve planned. So I really can relate myself to this topic. I sure thank iTDi for giving me the chance to speak up and share my thought.
    Thanks again dear Ceci.
    Big bear hug


  3. Planning is extremely important. I wish there was a way to be more spontaneous. Sometimes, I will have more than one lesson prepared so that I can pick which lesson benefits the class that day.

    Thanks for sharing this idea in your blog.

  4. Thanks Icha for your enlightening and fresh explanation. The first step for teaching is indeed Lesson Planning, like it or not. All teachers must know what their SS need to learn, how they will teach them, with what aids, and most importantly, how the SS will achieve the aims proposed for each class. And as you point out, teachers must also have a Plan B, in case Plan A fails. Planning is important, especially when teaching children, as in your case; But older students demand for planning too, when they recognize that teachers improvise, make mistakes, are disorganized, don’t explain or don’t assess properly. When we teachers get involved in doing our job is when we “own” our lessons, our classrooms, our SS, as you say. Planning is owning, is loving too.

  5. Dear Icha,

    Thank you for this awareness-raising article about the significance of lesson planning and of not only teachers must be planned but also they have to have a Plan B / backup plan. There are times that your lesson plan flops and you must be equipped with the needed confidence and plan to get you out of it, such as a board game, the classic Hangman, appropriate video clips, songs, discussion questions, etc. I think we teachers must always have our magician box with ourselves … we must have something up our sleeves for just-in-case situations. 🙂

    Thank you again.

    All the best,

  6. Thank you so much for this post; I’m a new teacher, so all ideas and concepts concerning language teaching and practice are welcome. Thank you for the umbrella concept I’ll bear it in mind while preparing my lessons, though I do, but not so often. I really appreciate your comment about teaching to children, because I have to teach university students and believe me, it’s really hard, I don’t dare to imagine me working with children ( someday I will anyway). Your advice will be really helpful in my teaching practice.

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