2. How can I plan lessons quickly?

The Swiss army knife of teaching

Get a simple, visual template to align your lesson aim, activities and assessment.

Teaching is a bit like mountaineering. Exhausting but exhilarating, planning 20 lessons a week takes endurance. If it takes you two hours to plan a lesson, that’s a full-time job on its own. How do you avoid freefall?

When I started Teach First, I found myself drowning. Thrown in the deep end, lessons took me twice as long to resource as to teach, and I was sinking rather than swimming. I couldn’t survive like that for much longer.

I found a way to get the ratio to 1:1 – a one-hour lesson took me that long to resource. Soon, this method allowed me to cut the time to thirty minutes, then twenty, and before long – the Holy Grail – I could plan a lesson in 10 minutes. How?

Simple, visual diagrams can automate your lesson planning. Your routine of resourcing 20 interactive presentations a week becomes a breeze.

Here’s an example. The flow shows the shape of the double lesson:

Three main ingredients make a lesson digestible: the aim, the activities and the assessment. Get used to putting those ingredients together quickly.

Start with a question. Dictating an objective is too closed, I find. Leaving just a title is vague and confusing. Instead, strike the balance between clarity and flexibility. Questions create curiosity, demand an answer and make everyone come up with their own response.

Strikingly, every time you fill in the template, you accelerate the process, and reduce the planning time you spend each week. It becomes increasingly habitual.

The Swiss run everything like clockwork. The lesson template, the Swiss army knife of teaching, runs your planning routine like them.

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