Essential features of a lesson plan

In this previous post I looked at the advantages of lesson planning. This post is about lesson planning for a group of students who you know fairly well, or who you anticipate working with on a regular basis. I will cover lesson planning for ‘one-offs’ in another post.

If you decide to plan your lessons I really hope that you get as much out of it as I do.

I think that the essential features of a good lesson plan are that it:

  • Should be prepared shortly before it is needed, and reviewed before the class is taught in order to note new ideas or insights
  • Should balance the need for detail without being overly rigid or script-like
  • Should be prepared with the needs of the class in mind, and take account of their individual backgrounds, experience, ability and interest.
  • Should include as a minimum: a. aims and objectives b. the activities, methods and practices that will be covered c. list of resources needed d. notes on how the lesson links to previous and / or future classes e. provision for discussion / Q & A.
  • Should have space for notes / reflection either during or just after the class e.g. ‘Janu Sirsasana should be pushed back to the end of the class to fit in with the other seated postures’

I usually plan my lessons a term at a time. I do an overall plan for the term starting with the last class and working backwards. This means that the practices over the term build up the students’ experience and ability in a logical way. Once I have my overall plan I practice it a couple of times and make any key changes to the main practices and techniques that I think are required to give a fully rounded practice. Each week I review the class, decide on my peak practice and make any further additions or amendments.

Each class has a peak posture or practice where I spend more time teaching the practice. This includes an increased level of detail about the history, benefits and variations of the practice and I also take the opportunity to adjust and assist more students than usual.

Working on a termly basis also gives me time to practice any techniques which I have grown unfamiliar with before demonstrating them to the class. I can therefore also use this method of lesson planning to develop my personal practice, but  only as a side benefit – I don’t make this the reason for incorporating certain practices.

I focus on developing the main cohort of students – for example, by observing where any physical weaknesses are in terms of posture practice and aiming to address that in the next term, or introducing them to a new pranayama (breathing technique).

Have a space to reflect on the class plan is a great idea as it means you can note down any thoughts or issues for next time. For example when a pose feels like it is in the wrong place e.g. a sitting pose amongst standing postures, or perhaps you thought that a different counterpose would work better. It is also great for noting down the practicalities of the class e.g. whether you ran out of time, or needed to fill time. You often think that you will remember these things, but after a few classes you just can’t keep track!

How do you plan your lessons? What features do your lesson plans include?

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One Response to Essential features of a lesson plan

  1. Jenna says:

    Love reading your blogs Catharine. I would share my aims and objectives with my students and reflect together briefly at the end of the ‘lesson’. I’m coming from a mainstream primary background obviously. Don’t know how this sits when teaching yoga to adults.

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