Without lesson plan aims you might as well give up and go home, because you suck.
Yet for an embarrassingly long time, I didn’t write any aims for my lesson plans. Sure, I learned all about them on my TEFL course. Yeah, they made sense. But I was busy, and had been told to follow the course book (“two pages of the class book every lesson in class, and one page from the student’s book for homework!”). Surely my aims had just been set for me, for every class?
For the sake of a minute to set my aims for each class, I could have become such a much better teacher, so much faster.
To avoid my cringe-worthy mistakes, and catapult yourself into realms of teaching awesomeness, grab a cup of tea and carry on reading.
What is An Aim & Why Should I Care?
An aim can be anything you want your students to achieve in your class.
Having aims will make you a better teacher, delivering better lessons, whilst your students learn whilst all of you have more fun.
How Many Aims, and When?
I like two choose two aims for students and one personal aim (see later). This can be flexible and could depend on a number of things – your students, your syllabus, your academic manager.
Write your aims before you start your plan, and keep them in mind when you’re selecting activities (see a later article on activity selection). Review your aims at the end, as well.
How to Choose Your Aims
Your ultimate guide are your students. What do they most need to know? It may not be what the course book says they should learn next (gasp!).
The course book and I usually agree less than fifty per cent of the time what to teach next.
However, don’t get in trouble by not teaching what your school requires, even if you think your students need it. Use your common sense, and find a balance. If there’s a real problem, then speak to your academic manager to see if there’s something that can be worked out.
How to Write Your Aims
I always start my lesson plan aims with ‘By the end of the lessons, students will be better able to…’
You’ve probably heard of SMART goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). If not, here’s a link.
Your lesson plan language should be equally precise.
|Teach the past simple.||By the end of the lesson students will be better able to change ten regular verbs into the past simple tense.|
Let’s break down the good example and see how it’s ‘SMART’.
Specific: instead of just lumping all ‘past tense’ verbs together, we just choose ten regular past simple verbs. A good teacher will also choose elaborate on what those verbs are in the lesson plan.
Measurable: This is also a ‘can do’ aim – it’s very simple to see if the students can do this, or not.
Attainable: Although not in the written aim, I know that my students are ready for this challenge, based on where they are in their English learning.
Relevant: I also know it’s highly relevant – recently, several of my students have been trying to describe what they did in the past, but using the present simple. It’s clear they need to focus on the past simple.
Time-bound: ‘By the end of the lesson’ is a given time that you want to work on the goal.
Oh, and don’t forget that you can speed up writing your aims (and all of your planning and administrative work) with this technique here.
BONUS! Personal Aims
How do you want to improve as a teacher?
I always like to have a personal aim for lessons, too. It might be related to working on rapport with a particular troublesome student, or improving my monitoring of students. Either way, it’s building my skills in the classroom, just as I want my other aims to build my students’ skills.