How the Heck Do I Make a Lesson Plan?

Not to ruin the fabulously positive vibes on this blog so far…Really, I’m loving the upbeat attitude! Every day I come in with a smile and generally act more like an elementary student than a teacher (oops!). Dancing along to power points, miming martial arts duels with little boys, and being far too wound up in a game of What Time is it Mr. Wolf? to notice that the class is over is just another sunny day at my Elementary School. But tonight I’m being nibbled and gnawed away by something big.

I have three middle school classes tomorrow, none of which have prepared lesson plans. What the heck do I do?!

Orientation week has thrown me slightly off-schedule. While I usually like to prepare my classes a week in advance, this week I’ve been forced to run on my toes, throwing things together just a day before class. Except it’s like being in one of those horrible dreams where no matter how hard you run, your feet just won’t touch the ground, and you wind up running in air, going nowhere.

The problem with Middle School is…I have literally no idea what I’m doing. At orientation, I was placed with the other Elementary teachers, and learned about Elementary curriculums and methods. I’ve only had one Middle School class so far, which was off-curriculum and consisted of a self-introductory powerpoint about Canada, which the students thought was a complete snooze fest. There’s nothing like standing in front of a class, exclaiming, pointing, and action verbing as enthusiastically as you can, while the entire room slowly sinks into an apathetic stupor. Even the co-teacher was straining to smile politely. After the class, I confessed, “I think that was kind of boring.” All she said was, “Haha, well….”

Anyway, back to the present moment, after running around all week to get my other classes prepped (grade 5, 6, and my first day with 1 and 2), I’ve only just been able to look at my Middle School textbooks and figure out what the content is. Though I had some time at the office to work on them, the internet connection is so painfully slow that clicking on even one link can take something like 2 minutes. I tried to make a “Guess Who” type board using animal pictures and got maybe 6 pictures down…it took me all day! It’s so slow it hurts. (I even prefer to take my work home with me, because at least on my MacBook things are zippier and don’t crash all the time.) Plus, when I look over at the other teachers’ computers, they’re browsing FaceBook, shopping online, or watching videos. How do they have so much free time?

I once asked the other foreign teacher how long she takes to plan a lesson.

“Oh, it depends. Sometimes as short as 10 minutes, sometimes up to 30 minutes. The hardest part is coming up with the idea.”

10 minutes?! Sometimes I’m up all night, losing sleep over a single lesson. She told me, “You should never have to take work home with you.”

I’m finding it truly impossible to plan lessons in so short a time. For the 1st and 2nd grade, maybe. All they learned today was, “What time is it?” and “It’s ____ o’clock!” But for middle school, they’re learning things like superlatives, imperatives, idioms and infinitives, all in one lesson, and I need to present it to them in a way that’s easily digestible and doesn’t use dense grammar terms (like superlative, imperative, idiom and infinitive). Tack on the challenge of engaging teenagers anything beyond a grunt, and you have a real conundrum. Moreover, my Middle School is really rural and was missing a few of the textbooks, so I don’t have a complete idea of the course material…

Bah, this is all just an excuse to procrastinate, I’m sure. I just had my wifi installed, so there was a bit of that too…my brain is in the all-too-familiar “Oh shit I have no idea what to do. DO ANYTHING ELSE!” mode. Also I’m plain pooped after orientation and a cold (which has mostly left me, though I occasionally have coughing/gagging fits at school and the grocery store, prompting passersby to give me the bug eye).

Need to get up at 6 to catch the bus to this middle-of-nowhere Middle School…no sleep tonight, I guess.

Sorry for the downer, but I really needed this off my chest. Besides, it wouldn’t be an honest blog if we didn’t talk about everything. Green horn worries! I should do a retrospective post on my first elementary days…

5 thoughts on “How the Heck Do I Make a Lesson Plan?

  1. Uh oh. Now you’re on the other side of the fence! It’s amazing how quickly that happens.
    It’s also crazy how the school doesn’t already have lessons plans from the gazillion times before. No kidding reinventing the wheel is going to take more than 10 minutes. Sheesh.


    1. Well, they have some old materials, but the textbooks change every 3 years or so…also depending on your co-teacher, you may need to revamp everything to suit the class style, skill level and size. I have a lot of resources for elementary, but for middle school, nil. It’s a new co-teacher there too, so it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on! Right now I’m just borrowing powerpoints from other teachers online…3:30 am and still up. Urgh.


      1. Well…the POSITIVE side is you write FABULOUSLY even when things are down. What if you head them ad lib scenes of things teens like to do, incorporating superlatives, imperatives, etc. Using as many of each that they can pack into a conversation-skit. Should be entertaining and keep everyone awake. Or they could be grouped to put on skits that they have a few classes to prepare for.


  2. Or have them bring in something they collect, or pictures from a show they love and make them explain why it means soimething to them…


  3. Some links for ideas that you could adapt:
    Just google around for middle school ESL lesson plans…adaptation is the key to survival. It’s like Marta’s and Robyn’s parties where we adapted Survivor challenges to suit out themes, etc. Challenges…engage them by letting them show off a bit…and add on to what they know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s