Last blog I talked about why you should write a lesson plan, so I want to follow it up on writing a lesson plans. As a Music Education major, I still have vivid memories of writing my first lesson plan for my first education class. We had to write our lessons out word for word. It was a ‘good’ one-time exercise which I will thankfully never do again. Now, I am not recommending that you have to write out your first lesson plan word for word, but as I previously talked about, there is plenty of value in writing one.
Lesson planning goes beyond a specific class; it involves teaching by topic or theme. Every week my classes cover a specific topic or is part of a topic series. For instance, if I am teaching a series on back kick, week 1 will be teaching back kick to beginners and reviewing back kick with intermediate/ advanced students. Week 2 will cover footwork & back kick, such as trap back kick and week 3 exchange back kick for the intermediate/ advanced students and jump back kick for the beginners. I also track topics over the course of the year. This creates a simple index, which is searchable in Google sheets, that I use to plan future lessons.
Quick aside, Google Sheets is my friend. I have all my lessons going back to 2013 on Google Sheets. I create a new sheet every year, and it is divided into different workbooks. I have a work book for tracking my topics and then a work book for each month of the year. This allows me to quickly search my Google Sheet for previous lessons. I also create work books for interesting drills or warm-ups that I want to save for future use. As I will often teach at numerous locations, my school, home school co-ops, etc. each location receives its own Google Sheet. Whatever system you decide to use, I recommend it is easily accessible and searchable.
First, everyone’s class schedule is different, so you will need to adapt a system that works for you. Second, I do not write lessons for every individual class, rather I write a beginners class lesson, intermediate, advanced, sparring (beginner/ advanced) and Poomsae (beginner/ advanced). This means that there are classes, like a family class or 5- 12 year old class, that cross categories. For these classes I will do a hybrid lesson. Third, some instructors will use the same lesson all week or have A, B, and C days, do what you need. I do an A (Monday & Tuesday), B (Wednesday & Thursday) system, where Friday and Saturday are just combinations from days A and B.
Now the nuts and bolts of lesson planning, writing your lessons for individual classes.
Here is an example lesson from the first class I taught at Hazel Dell Christian Church:
Class: Age 5 -7
Theme: Intro to Taekwondo (Round Kick)
Introduce Taekwondo Talk about background of Taekwondo
Stretching: Basic Stretching
Warm Up: Ladder Warm Ups
Group Intro: Introduce Front Kick & Fighting Stance
Line Drill: Target Front Kick
Group Lesson: Round Kick
Partner Drill: Shield
Race: shield Lines w/ Partner
Fastest Round Kick
Flying Side Kick
The lesson above uses my own shorthand, letting me quickly look at a lesson and know the drill or activity. My lessons are always columns with the TYPE on the left and SPECIFIC on the right. If we are doing a partner drill, I will write Partner drill: (type of target) on the left and then write out the specific drill on the left. Such as, Padachugi vs. step-in or Hoo-jin, Ap-bal, return Nadaban vs. Chun-jin, Chun-jin.
Every class I teach has these elements, using color codes for organization. Blue indicates my warm-ups and outro. I use the same warm-up and outro for every class on a single week, then change it for the following week. For the first part of the week I will do warm-up X and then on the second half warm-up X+1, making it more challenging or complicated, etc. With the average student coming to class twice a week, this means they will only see that warm-up twice before it changes. It also means that my assistants have an easier time running a warm-up or outro if I need to talk to a parent. Warm-ups are also a great place to review techniques and hide them as games or races. I indicate forms (both Kicking forms and Poomsae) in Red. I, like most instructors, use a cycle of doing forms more then closer we get to testing. I will also move it around the lesson, occasionally replacing the warm-ups, etc. so that it does not become stale being in the same place. Last, the parts in black, which are my lesson topic and change every class. This is the area that I use for introducing new concepts, techniques and drills. I will indicate where I am explaining (IDEA) a new technique with General lesson or Group intro and then where my students get to practice that technique with Partner drills, line drills, etc.
This is my method, the key it to develop a method that you are comfortable using. Then building the habit to write lessons. Once you have a format and are comfortable, it becomes easier and faster to write lessons.
Next time, I will write about Disguising Repetition, which is a key part of teaching and goes hand in hand with good lesson planning.