Sunday, 8 December 2013

Planning for the future and how we deal with it

This was the title of the first in the series of 'Jeremy Harmer Lectures' hosted by Pearson.  What follows is a summary of what Jeremy had to say.

The planning pyramid

AIMS
 
CLASS DESCRIPTION
 
 
ADDITIONAL         TIMETABLE           OUTCOMES
                 POSSIBILITIES             FIT                                                    
         
            ACTIVITIES     TIMINGS         PROCEDURES      INTERACTIONS       
 
      LANGUAGE EXPONENTS    LANGUAGE SKILLS   PERSONAL AIMS     AIDS 
   
Aims 
What students will be better able to do.
 
Class description
It's important to know who you're teaching - the size of the class, age, level, type of learner, etc. in order to be better able to anticipate problems.  Think yourself into the mind of the student, be problem ready and have solutions available.
 
Additional possibilities
Extra staff - just in case!
 
Timetable fit
How your lesson fits into the scheme of work, curriculum and syllabus.
 
Outcomes
These are difficult to plan for as we don't know what's going on inside our students' heads, but it is important to have measurable outcomes.  When the students have done the activity, what will have changed for them?
 
Activities
What will you do?  You need to vary and balance the activities to engage and motivate students.
 
Timings
Very difficult to plan accurately, though it gets easier with experience and through knowing your students well.
 
Procedures
How are you going to do something?
 
Interactions
S-S, T-S, etc.  The best lessons have a variety of interactions.  Don't worry about having too much TTT - TTT is a rich source for students' listening comprehension.  It's the quality of the TTT which is important.
 
Language exponents
Grammar, etc. - what you plan to teach isn't necessarily what ends up emerging in the lesson.
 
Language skills
What do we want students to work on?  The best lessons are often those which integrate all the skills.
 
Personal aims
It's important that the teacher has aims for him/herself, as well as for the students - action research, for example.
 
Aids
Classroom technology - whiteboard, coursebook, computer, projector, pens, IWB, etc.  It's not what you've got that matters - it's what you do with it.  Think carefully in planning about what students will use, not just you as the teacher.  Think about BYOD - using mobiles in class, for example.
 
Planning for a series of lessons using topics and themes
 
Look at this example of a series of lessons for young learners, using the topic of bananas!
 
 
 
Planning
 
How we think about a lesson (what metaphor we use) affects how we plan for it.  For example, if we think of a lesson as a journey, we plan for how we're going to get to the destination.  If it's a meal, we think about how to combine the best ingredients for maximum enjoyment.
 
The planning paradox - if you plan too much, you stifle the creativity every classroom should have.  If you don't plan enough, you lose sight of the aims.
 
Teaching unplugged (dogme) - this is where you don't plan very much - rather, you use the emergent language from the students to teach with.
 
Some say a compromise would be to plan your door into the lesson and a door out and not to worry too much about what's going to happen in the middle.
 
The planning pyramid is vital, especially for trainee teachers, but perhaps the door analogy is best for experienced teachers.  Moreover, it could be argued that the door out is more important than the door in.  People always remember more what happens at the end of something.  A teacher needs to be able to summarise what has happened in the lesson so that students take away the right message.  We need to end our lessons in different ways in order to engage and amuse students and make them want to come back.

 
 


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