Planning our first lesson can be daunting, but it gets better with time.
Our anxiety is really high, because, as everybody knows, we want to be liked. What’s more, we always want to start off on the right foot. So, how do you plan your first lesson?
I start by drawing up a plan of what my objectives are in this first lesson (and a set of ten questions come up at this point)
Setting the profile of the group:
- Do students know how the course works? How many lessons will they have?
- Will there be any tests? Reviews?
- How many students will I have and how old are they? (especially if the groups is mixed)
- Do I want them to get to know me better?
- What about the other students in the class? Do they know each other already?
- Do we have new students in that group?
- Do they like the language? (I believe this is very important and it will provide me with a thorough profile of students)
Working on Needs and Analysis:
- What do they need? Or want?
- What are they expecting from this course?
- How can I help them better? (This is the most important question ever!)
Based on the information gathered, I start planning my first day activities. Generally speaking, I start the lesson by introducing myself and the course (I use a checklist, displayed on the board, so students can follow the bullet points, this way no items will be forgotten). After that, the students will be doing a diagnostic task.
This could be done as:
- A writing task: writing an email to the teacher, answering: “What are your expectations for this course?” Thus, you will have their expectations and also you will be able to check: coherence and cohesiveness; language (grammar structures and vocabulary); linkers; discourse markers; etc.
- A game: Any types of games will do, actually. When planning the game, make sure you include questions that will provide you with a better picture of what your students will need throughout the first lessons (at least). For this, you can use grammar points or vocabulary acquired at the previous level. I highly recommend using kahoot. If you don’t know this tool, you should get acquainted with it fast! (you just have to access https://kahoot.com/ and create an account. There you can create games but you can also use the games other teachers have already published! Really! It’s as great as it sounds). My dear friend Ricardo Barros has presented it to me and I have been using it since!
After the lesson, I create a document with my students’ individual profile and a profile of the group as a whole and this can be shared with the next teacher as well.
So, I go back to my first question: Is the first lesson daunting? It doesn’t have to be, as long as you set a goal, draw a plan, and gather results.