Taking the Stress out of Lesson Planning

Posted: 9 November 2021

Author: Emily Robinson Leclair, Community Learning Network

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I remember the feeling all too well. Tutors were screened and trained. Our program had attracted learners. Learners had found their way to our program. Learning opportunities were set up. The hardest part of my job was done – or was it?

Without fail, a week or so before any learning opportunity was scheduled to begin I heard from the instructor or tutor who had been recruited to teach. There were moments of panic and questions like ‘what are we going to do for an hour?’, or worse, ‘what if we run out of things to do?’. Instead of feeling prepared and excited to partner alongside a learner some staff felt unprepared and overwhelmed.

I added the ‘What Makes a Good Lesson Plan?’ list to my onboarding of tutors and staff:

[untitled]

(source Creating Learning Partners Unit 4: Planning for Learning Handout 4.11)

We reviewed the many Lesson Plan templates available and still there were questions.

  • How long do we meet?
  • How will I know if the learner is engaged?
  • How much is too much? 
  • What do I bring? 
  • What should the learner do? 
  • Do I assign homework? 

It is challenging to plan lessons. It can be especially challenging to plan lessons that incorporate the Adult Learning Principles. Adults need learning that: is self-directed, builds on their rich store of past experience and knowledge, helps them meet their own goals, is relevant and practical, and provides respect. (Source Appendix 10.1 2020 CALP Guidelines)

We know that good lesson plans:

  • Contribute to skill development
  • Include more practice than content
  • Involve learners
  • Build learners' confidence
  • Help learners transfer learning into their everyday lives

"Adult learners need to feel that what they are learning will be actually useful, that it will solve problems, not create new ones" (Source Building Professional Pride in Literacy, by B. Allan Quigley. Melbourne, FL: Krieger, 2006.). Learners need to feel that these weekly learning opportunities are building transferrable skills, helping them progress toward their learning goal, and increasing their confidence.

No wonder lesson planning is overwhelming! Good lesson plans have the ability to engage and retain learners. Not so good lesson plans might result in disengaged learners who ultimately drop or stop out of learning.  

That is why I am so excited about the new Foundational Learning Lesson Planning e-Learning that is now available on the CALP Portal. This micro-learning shares simple guiding principles for creating lessons that are effective and engaging. CALP staff can successfully:

  • Design lessons using an easy-to-repeat formula
  • Engage learners during lessons
  • Incorporate skill development or explicit instruction
  • Include interesting skill practice in lessons
  • Identify literacy practice activities learners can use in their everyday lives

The Foundational Learning Lesson Planning e-Learning has four pieces. It contains a:

4 pieces Terri
  1. Video
  2. Handout with tips for each part of the lesson plan
  3. Podcast to go with them
  4. Lesson plan template you can download to edit


There is so much great content in this resource. In particular, I like that each of the seven lesson plan components includes:

  • recommended time 
  • ways to involve learners
  • prompt questions 
Terri Starts

You may recognize your guide for the Foundational Learning Lesson Planning e-Learning. Terri Peters delivered a series of workshops earlier this year including one on Lesson Planning. We have taken the core essential components of that workshop and created this e-Learning. 


If you are interested in learning more about lesson planning, check out these resources on the CALP Portal:

Happy learning and planning! 

Emily Robinson Leclair
CLN South RSS

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