Lesson planning, by Henriëtta Koortzen

It is 1:00am. You have a full day of teaching tomorrow and you are still up. Why? Is it all the excitement of knowing that you will be living in one of the greatest cities in the world for the next year? Or is it nervousness keeping you up because it is your first time teaching English as a foreign language? You could still be up because you are working on lesson plans, making sure every game and activity is perfect for your first couple of classes. In my experience as an English teacher at Aihua, it can be a combination of these keeping you up at night. During the first couple of weeks, however, lesson planning is definitely to blame for your lack of sleep.

During training, example lesson plans and lists upon lists of games and activities are given to you to use as a guideline. Not only does it help a lot with lesson planning, it ensures a fun time for both you and the students. In the beginning, you rely heavily on these materials and always have it by your side when lesson planning. You look through it constantly to make sure you are on the right track and that the games chosen are fit for each section. You spend almost twice as much, or, if you are like me, three times as much time planning a lesson than you spend actually teaching it. Days go by and when people ask you what you have been up to, ‘lesson planning’ is usually the first thing that comes to mind.

However, with the passing of time, you get more and more familiar with the games and the layout of a lesson plan. You feel more confident and you try new things in class because you know what your kids like. You know what works and what does not for every class. You will soon come to find that all the game lists and notes on lesson planning you had once relied so heavily on, is somewhere in a box or file you haven’t look at in ages. Planning a lesson takes a third of the time it used to and you find yourself having time for so many other things. Things you used to miss because you had to lesson plan.

The truth is, when you start teaching, it will feel like lesson planning is the only thing you will be doing for the entire year in China. You will feel down at times, as I am sure most new teachers feel like when they just start teaching. Experienced teachers will all say the same thing though: It does get better. So chin up because when you finally get to that stage, you will be the experienced teacher reassuring new teachers that everything does get better eventually.

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