Thursday, 30 May 2013

What makes a successful lesson?

I've just been reading 'The Map Is Not The Territory' over on The Secret DOS's blog, which discusses the efficacy (or not) of lesson planning. Speaking as someone with over 20 years' experience of EFL, I can say my relationship to prepping for classes has waxed and waned over time, and involves several variables, including:

  • in the early years, not having any experience at all, leading to the creation of exquisitely immaculate lesson plans, taking hours of artisanal labour and minutes of actual lesson time
  • the amount of paper available to write down (this was pre-pc) an LP. Several of these were literally created on fag packets.
  • being observed/inspected/gang-probed by OFSTED, leading to monumental edifices of LPs
  • knowing the materials and class so well that it feels like a waste of time to create an LP
  • pretending to be investigating Dogme ELT and saying stuff like, 'Ha! The LP is ANATHEMA to Teaching Unplugged!'
  • Hangovers.
I am, of course, writing slightly tongue-in-cheek, he said, slipping in a disclaimer for the benefit of future employers.

However, The Secret DOS's article got  me thinking - what does make a successful lesson? We've all had lessons that we've prepared to the finest edge of perfection, but which in class fly in very much the same way that a heavy brick doesn't; Then again, we've gone into a lesson without so much as a really badly-photocopied worksheet in lieu of preparation, and ended up having something incredibly productive. 
The trouble is, it's hard to empirically demonstrate exactly what it is that makes a given lesson successful, as there are so many variables.

I thought I'd give it a go, though, using the Power Of A Popplet
I've had to strip out some variables, such as Will To Live Sapped By The Fact It's Thursday Afternoon, but I've kept the salient ones in. Having said that, I've also probably missed a few as well, but seeing as I started this as a bit of fun, I actually think I've ended up with something useful.
So, tongue now firmly planted in cheek, does this mean we can create an equation for a successful lesson? Let's give it a try:
Ls = Ti{Texp(yt+knCl/knMat) +Lp+Ei+M/TintM} + Si{Skn(knCl/unCl+unInst+knBhvr+knT/Cl)+i(t/cl+mats)+FcX+Sint}>0
where Ls= Lesson Success, and Ti (teacher input) plus Si (Student input) is greater than 0.

Of course, I now expect this equation to appear as gospel truth in the Daily Telegraph.

What do you think? Have I missed anything? 

If the Popplet doesn't for some reason appear above, here is the first draft as a pic:

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