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Preparation: Anticipating Problems


Being over-prepared for every lesson is part of making them successful. We all have a plan B or C or D when lesson planning. How detailed these extra plans become depends on your experience, teaching style, and good 'ol trial 'n error in your teaching career.

A good idea for teachers both new and old, is to be over-prepared, and refer to the 5 Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Add two simple habits to add in your lesson planning routine to ensure a higher chance of delivering a 'better' lesson:

  1. Go over the lesson plan, part by part, take notes of what could go wrong in each part.

  2. Then, jot down possible solutions or alternatives to those problems.


Example 1: Practice language. Make pairs and play battleships using the target language.

Problem: Game too complicated for students.

>Solution: Have another game or two ready that utilizes the target  language.

Problem: Some pairs finish early.

>Solution: Prepare extra sheets for round two or three.

Problem: Everyone finishes early and there is 10 mins remaining.

>Solution: Prepare supplementary mini games/activities involving the whole class.

Example 2: Interview activity. Go around the class and interview 4 friends using the target language.

Problem: Students not using English.

>Solution: At the end of the activity, have students add 2 more friends at the bottom. One is you, one is you alter ego! Everyone will have to interview as a class in English. It's also good for a review.

Problem: Students gathering together chatting and not using the time productively.

>Solution: Make expectations clear. Set a time limit and make it a rule to mingle with 2 boys and 2 girls.

These are only but examples. Obviously, more than one possible solution to each problem is better. Review your experiences over the years, and think about what worked and what didn't. The more anticipated problems and solutions you can think up while planning the lesson, the easier it will be to ensure a smoother class.

Once this becomes habit, it'll come naturally, and you'll be able to do it without taking physical notes. Everything will be in your head on the day before entering the classroom. Thinking on the spot, adapting and having a solution to any problem will also come with ease.

Best of luck being 'over-prepared'.

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