What makes a lesson a bad lesson?

A few days ago a teacher asked on a forum how do we know if a lesson is a good or a bad lesson.

That’s the typical question we ask each other at the end of the day when we compare our lesson’s content, the material we used, students reactions and more.

We think these questions are a good starting point for those teachers who want to improve their skills and make their lessons always more interesting.

All teachers know how hard planning a one-hour lesson is, what kind of expectations we have and how carefully everything is organised during a lesson. That’s why after an unsuccessful class we go back home sad and wondering what we failed and what we should change with our students.

There are also days in which you feel The Best Teacher In The World because lessons worked exactly as you expected. Great days! But now let’s come to the topic: what makes you  think that a lesson worked?

Considering that we  want all our student to take part in the class, a lesson doesn’t work when some students don’t even try to follow their classmates and teacher during one or more activities. If that happens maybe you didn’t create a strong involvement or didn’t stimulate a high interest in the activity you proposed.

Most students reacted well and took part in the activity, but someone else was like absent-minded and not interested in the task. We might think he was tired or was thinking about something else, or we can focus on our job and do a bigger effort to achieve the perfect lesson.

What should we do if this happens?

If something similar happens we should try to work harder on our class management and refine the way we create interest and motivation in activities. Make sure, before giving instructions, that students understand what they are supposed to do and why. It’s always a good practice to let them work in pairs or in small groups, not only in order to make the task easier but also because in this way students can compare their ideas and have fun while carrying out the task and practicing the language.

Many students usually wish to learn with no efforts. We know that’s impossible, but we can provide them with the right keys to do their best. For instance we can let them discover these rules with fun practical activities. So we can make a boring rule easy to understand.

And what’s a good lesson then?

You know that your lesson worked when you manage to catch all your students’ attention and they take actively part into the lesson, speaking a lot, learning more than you expected and being happy to attend your course.

A good lesson is a well designed plan, based on time management and on a task-based method. You have to balance the different activities paying attention to the four skills you want your students to improve and find a leitmotiv for the lesson that could be clear for them.

When a student go home he should know what he learnt, and how to use it. Last but not the least comes the pace of the lesson: keeping up with that makes your lesson successful.

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