How to prepare to teach a lesson: 15 steps (with pictures)

How to prepare to teach a lesson: 15 steps (with pictures)
How to prepare to teach a lesson: 15 steps (with pictures)

Teaching a subject to any class requires knowledge, authority, and the ability to be able to anticipate and answer questions. Your students will hope to learn things they don't know and gain the knowledge they need to continue learning, no matter what subject you teach. You might find yourself teaching a few students, in a large room or online. Either way, you should prepare to teach a course by identifying learning objectives, developing a curriculum, and preparing lesson plans.


Part 1 of 3: Develop a program

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Step 1. Define your goals for the course

Having goals set for your course will let you know exactly what to teach and help your students understand what to learn. Goals help you assess whether you and your course have reached the desired level. Consider the following.

  • Who are your students?
  • What school programs do they need or have at your institution?
  • What would you like the students to be able to achieve at the end of the lesson?
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Step 2. Include the goals to be achieved in your program

Take note of a set of course objectives (using action verbs) and include them as one of the first rubrics in your syllabus. You are not required to have a large number of objectives for your course. Inserting few well thought out goals is preferable. You don't have to literally follow your lesson sheets, rather they should serve as a guide. Some examples of learning objectives put into practice in current programs are:

  • demonstrate your proficiency in reading, evaluating and explaining general economic information,
  • use research methods in psychology, including design, data analysis and explanation of a study project,
  • express yourself effectively through oral presentations,
  • formulate well-structured reasoning that you support using examples,
  • identify important people and ideas from peace movements around the world.
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Step 3. Think about how you will assess the students to see if they are learning the course

Once you have set a set of learning goals, you should make sure that the students are successful in achieving them. Usually, you will determine this through your students' performance on the homework you give, but there are other options to consider as well. You should write a more or less detailed description of the assessment tools to include in your program. Some typical methods for assessing learning are:

  • interrogations and tests,
  • learning activities (fill in the blanks, solve equations, etc.),
  • presentations,
  • writing assignments (essays, research work, etc.),
  • series of projects which group together and present a collection of completed works,
  • Self-reflection exercises (ask students to describe what they learned from the lesson).
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Step 4. Define rubrics for homework

In order to determine how a student works on a given assignment, you should define rubrics. These help to assess student achievement by comparing them to certain levels you have set. Most of the headings are designated by numeric or alphabetical notations such as A, B, C, etc. A rubric has four parts.

  • A description of the work to be done. It should be a set of specific instructions relating to what you are asking the student to do, such as writing an analytical essay or conducting a science experiment.
  • The features you will notice. These are the skills, knowledge or conduct that you will observe and enjoy. For example, you could assess the linguistic quality of an essay or the use of scientific method for an experiment. These characteristics are often listed in the rows to the left of the evaluation grid.
  • Levels of mastery. These demonstrate how the student exhibits the skills being assessed. You can use the denominations (for example, Excellent, Average, Poor) or the ratings (A, B, C, etc.). These are usually listed in columns at the top of the evaluation grid.
  • The description of each characteristic at each level of mastery. This will explain each characteristic at each level of mastery. For example, you could state that Students must make less than 5 grammatical errors to get an A for clarity of expression.
  • You can find template scorecards online or ask your fellow faculty members to share theirs with you.
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Step 5. Consider the lesson strategies

Apart from teaching the content of a particular discipline and giving exercises, you will also need to set requirements and expectations for the course to run normally. For example, you need to take the following factors into account.

  • Would students be required to purchase textbooks or other materials? Will they be optional? How are you going to make sure they have the documents? Will students have to purchase all of the materials at once or can they stagger purchases throughout the term?
  • What will be your scoring method? Your institution, department or higher may require one. If not, you will need to determine how the different components of a course will affect a student's assessment or grade point average.
  • Will you take late or incomplete homework? Will you allow students to resume homework in which they did not work well?
  • Is attendance required for your class? If so, how are you going to ensure that and assess that? If not required, how will you be able to verify that students are meeting learning goals?
  • Will you allow students to use electronic devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) in the classroom? Not at all ? Only at certain times?
  • How would you satisfy students who may have special needs? Most establishments have an office that takes care of this situation. If you are not sure if yours has them, check with your supervisor. This office may even require you to include an adaptation section in your program. So check this with your administration.
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Step 6. Establish a class schedule

Determine the number of weeks and classes you have to do in a given term and develop a basic schedule. Choose the topics, books, concepts or activities that will be covered in each session. Plus, schedule exams, homework dates and any other important dates. You have the flexibility to change your schedule later if necessary, but always think about how you can schedule your course in a way that allows students to meet your learning goals.

  • For example, you might consider bringing up the more difficult topics and assessments later in the term.
  • At the start of the term, you could also plan activities that will allow you to gauge the level of students in your subject and identify gaps that you might pay special attention to.
  • Consider scheduling assessments and activities at a pace that students can follow. For example, you shouldn't give an important assignment right after or before the main exam.
  • Remember to take holidays and other days your school is closed into account. There is nothing worse than putting together an interesting schedule and realizing that you have scheduled an assessment for a holiday.
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Step 7. Build your program as you see fit

The specific components of a program as well as the order in which they are arranged will vary depending on the course and institutional requirements. However, programs generally have the following sections:

  • basic information (course title or number, course hours, working hours, contacts),
  • a description of the course,
  • learning objectives,
  • documents (books or other supplies required for the course and a list of useful resources),
  • the requirements (exams, written homework, presentations, participation, etc.),
  • the evaluation or rating method,
  • the course delivery methods (presence, use of technology, etc.),
  • the adaptation statement,
  • the declaration of the code of honor (for example, setting out the expectations to fight against plagiarism),
  • the schedule of class times, exams, homework and other important dates.

Part 2 of 3: Develop a lesson plan

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Step 1. Determine your learning goals for each class session

Since your course as a whole has several broad learning objectives that are defined in the syllabus, each lesson should also have specific goals. If you've put together your schedule and class schedules correctly, it should be easy, too. To do this, take the following factors into account.

  • What's the topic of the day? (reading, concept, method, etc.)
  • What do you want to teach the students?
  • What do you want them to be able to do or understand at the end of your lesson?
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Step 2. Think about how you can manage your time in class

Your lesson plan should include a number of activities that should be completed within the time frame assigned to the course. Don't try to overdo it, but also make sure your class schedule is used wisely.

  • Some people think it's best to establish a rough timeline for each course. For example We will spend 10 minutes on activity A, then 20 minutes on activity B…
  • Prioritize activities and learning goals. Place the ones you really want to talk about with the students at the start of the lessons. If there are others that are optional or that you can omit if you are pressed for time, put them at the end of your lesson plan.
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Step 3. Define a start, middle, and end for the course

You can help students understand the information conveyed by the lesson if you give them an overview of the lesson at the beginning and then summarize it later.

  • At the start of the lesson, try to give your students a brief introduction. The latter is supposed to explain the elements that will be discussed during the day (activities, key points, concepts, etc.).
  • After you have covered the lesson content in the middle of the lesson, finish by summarizing what you did during the session. This helps students retain the lesson. You can also ask them to take up what they have learned themselves in the form of a discussion or essay.
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Step 4. Write the lesson plan, if desired

You don't have to write your course sheet if you don't want to. On the other hand, if you wish to have it, you therefore do not have to write a long document. If the card is written down or you have it memorized, just make sure that your lesson plan clearly sets out the learning goals for your students and for yourself.

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Step 5. Be prepared to modify your lesson plan

The latter must be flexible. For example, if you find that students are not digesting a particular activity well, you can move on. Also, if you find that they want or need to spend more time on a certain topic or activity, you can allow them to do so. Be flexible about your lesson plan, as long as it helps you meet the learning goals.

Part 3 of 3: Leading Your Course

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Step 1. Discuss your lesson with other teachers

You can learn more about teaching by exchanging ideas with other teachers. Talking to teachers who teach the same course as you can be helpful when it comes to establishing your curricula and lesson plans. They can also provide you with interesting ideas throughout the term.

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Step 2. Get to know your students

You don't have to be your students' best friend. However, knowing their education levels, interests and future plans can help you teach them more effectively. If you get to know them, you can create a learning atmosphere that is open to everyone without exception. Likewise, students are more likely to participate in a class when they feel that their teacher understands them and cares about them.

  • At the start of a course, you have the option of asking your students to complete small survey sheets in order to have information on the following elements: their level of education, the reason for which they chose to take your course, similar courses they have taken, their interests, etc. You can also talk one-to-one with them during working hours to get to know them better.
  • Show diversity and openness to students by taking into account several points of view on a given topic. For example, if you are teaching French Literature, make sure the course emphasizes a variety of perspectives as well as other heritages and cultures such as gay writers. To do this, you could, for example, insert different books into it for the reading sessions.
  • Do not assume that your students will contact you when they encounter difficulties or have questions about the course. They might be busy with other subjects or other obligations or they might not know how to approach you. Take the lead and ask your students often if they have any questions or concerns.
  • Have high expectations for your students. If you expect them to be able to or succeed, there's a good chance they will. Identify those who need help and try to provide it. Just don't focus on a student's given knowledge to assume that he or she will be successful or not.
  • Do not assume that all members of a group have the same level of understanding or assimilation. So consider the students individually.
  • Have a reasonable policy for accommodating students who will miss your lessons because of religious or cultural events, ceremonies and holidays.
  • Don't think that low-reacting students don't value your lesson. Some are shy or don't know how to react. Identify these and help them find ways to be able to feel more involved in your class.
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Step 3. Stay in touch with your students

You should ensure that they can contact you throughout the term, especially outside of school hours. Communicating by email is a great option, but it's also best to meet with them during working hours when they can visit you and let you know any concerns about class and homework.

If you teach online, you can interact with your students either during working hours (if you have a physical office where they can easily visit you) or during virtual office hours through videoconferences, email messages, a forum., etc. Professors who teach regular classes can also take advantage of online working hours, if they wish


  • You can find a lot of school curriculum models online, especially on school websites.
  • Most institutions have centers dedicated to teaching and learning. If yours has them, contact them and ask for help with setting up and running a class.

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