WRITING A LESSON PLAN
This is the final blog post by one of our tutors, Melanie Blaikie. We hope you’ve enjoyed the series!
I’ve been teaching crafting and creative skills for more than ten years but I can still clearly remember my very first class. It was a disaster. I’d chosen an easy project, I had bucket loads of enthusiasm and I carefully demonstrated the techniques, convinced that all would be well.
Surprisingly (for me), most of my students didn’t grasp what I was saying. It was very stressful and we were still trying to finish the project an hour after the class should have finished. I’ve learned a lot since then and the most important thing I’ve learned is – never start a class without a plan.
If the thought of writing a lesson plan leaves you cold, think of it like this. Not having a lesson plan is like starting out on a long journey without setting your SatNav or looking at a map. You could be lucky and arrive at your destination as planned or you could spend hours lost and confused – as I did.
The good news is a lesson plan doesn’t need to be complicated. Begin with what you know – the start and finish time. Add in a break for tea and cake (otherwise it isn’t a proper craft class…!). Then estimate how long key tasks will take. Factor in plenty of time for demos, questions and practice. Don’t forget a proper introduction to get things off to a good start and very importantly, an ‘out-tro’. It’s like an ‘intro’ but to conclude the session and thank everyone for coming.
At first, timings can really only be your best guess as to how long each task will take. But, as your experience and confidence grow, your lesson plan will become your blue-print for a successful class. I’ve spoken to many Denman tutors about how they plan their lessons and keep everything on track – not an easy task with a room full of fun-loving WI ladies, I can assure you! Everyone has their own techniques but all agree proper planning is key.
I find it interesting how every class is different. Groups work at different speeds, find different topics interesting and some talk more than others. So, lesson plans need to be constantly adjusted during the class. I always have a ‘spare’ demo or project up my sleeve for when we’re ahead of plan as well as tactics for speeding things up if we’re not on track.
So, next time you’re at Denman and you see your teacher furiously scribbling on a piece of paper by their side, it’s their way of ensuring you get the very best from your learning experience and to do it really well takes years of practice.
I’m Melanie Blaikie, my own passion is sharing creative skills. If you’d like to know more, why not join my next ‘Teach Your Craft’ class at Denman. Or look out for my next blog when I’ll be talking about writing a lesson plan.
Written by Melanie Blaikie, March 2019.