Is it possible to plan the perfect lesson?

How to plan in the best possible way and what this will mean for your pupils – and for your sanity

Mike Gershon

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Many NQTs desire absolute perfection when it comes to lesson-planning – they see the perfect lesson in their mind’s eye and spend hours and hours agonising over how to plan it.

Actually, the ‘perfect lesson’ is an illusion.

Every time we teach, we are faced with more factors than we could ever have taken account of. And, once the illusion cracks we feel that we have failed.

But this is the truth of things. Any lesson is bound up in the relationship between teacher and students, and your plan must take account of this – it has to be flexible enough to respond to the unexpected events which happen in every classroom.

So, does this mean you should stop trying to plan great lessons if you want to save time? No. It just means you should stop trying to plan ‘the perfect lesson’ every time. This way, you’ll continue to aim for something good, useful and effective, but you’ll be acknowledging the element of unpredictability which is ever-present in the world of teaching. This will save you from disappointment and frustration.

Perfection is no longer the goal. Instead, it's to deliver something good, flexible, practical and pragmatic. Something that can be planned in a reasonable amount of time, delivered in a way that works for pupils, and that can be adapted depending on the circumstances. This is something that is much more achievable.

And perhaps you will find that perfection can emerge from such a plan, but only ever as a result of your teaching.

Mike Gershon is a teacher and trainer who has published a number of books on classroom practice