How to Write a Lesson Plan as a First-Year Teacher

Dr. Selena Kiser
Dr. Selena Kiser
Second grade teacher; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
Young teacher sitting at his desk taking notes.

Lesson plans are a vital piece of a first-year teacher’s repertoire. It is essential to learn early in your career how to create and utilize lesson plans effectively. Lesson plans should include explicit details on how teachers plan to progress, remediate, and challenge students. Whether teachers are teaching virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid setting, lesson plans are one of the first tools teachers create.

Key Components of a Lesson Plan

Lesson plans are a template for teachers and serve as a guide for many reasons. They direct daily activities and pace the objectives throughout the year. Lesson plans are outlines of how much time will be spent on objectives and specific skills. Pacing guides assist teachers on what to teach during specific times and how to pace throughout the school year. They should be explicit, including mandatory standards, yet specific to class needs.

Lesson plans need to state the specific learning objectives and goals and include details of what the teachers intend to teach. They provide a roadmap for the teacher. They are also valuable to keep teachers on track. It is best to include all the materials needed to teach the lesson to be organized and prepared. Then, lesson plans include a list of instructions on how the teacher will execute the lesson with specific procedures. For first year teachers, it is best to include as many details as possible to keep them organized.

Assessment and evaluation are a large part of instruction in today’s classrooms. It is imperative to include these components in the lesson plan. Teachers use formative and summative assessments and use data to drive instructional goals. Teachers must know where students are academically to know how to modify instruction. Assessment and evaluation include written work and observation. Assessments are beneficial to know how each student performs and allow teachers to group students to meet their individual needs.

Assessments should contain a variety of questions such as short answer, multiple-choice, essays, observation, or questioning as part of classroom participation. They should be included in lesson plans listed as classroom observation and participation for daily assessments, and include at least a written or online formative assessment.

Teaching in today’s classrooms requires a variety of supplemental materials to ensure skill and information retention. Listing the supplemental materials in the lesson plans allows teachers to be organized and prepared.  According to the Learning Pyramid (2020) students remember 90% of what they do. Including hands-on experiences ensures students have opportunities to actively engage in the learning process. Homework should be a review of what has already been taught in class and should take minimal time. Students should be able to complete their homework on their own and should only be assigned to allow extra practice for skill retention.

Classroom Management through Lesson Planning

Classroom management is one of the most important facets of teaching and encompasses many capacities. It is so much more than managing behavior in a classroom. Classroom settings are so complex, and each student is unique. Teachers must learn as much as they can about each student. Teachers need to know where a student is coming from and what their story is. A great principle would be to learn their story and build a relationship with the student from the first day. It is so important to make your own judgments about students, but to find out what you can from their former teachers and families. Building relationships with the students and their parents is one of the most important things you can do as a teacher.

Students learn differently, and lesson plans should exemplify a variety of teaching methods such as whole group, small group, and individual opportunities. Teachers must list the different strategies they employ to accommodate learning styles. Students love and need to be a part of the learning process. Morning meetings or having the students provide feedback is a great way to highly engage them in the classroom environment. Exit tickets are another great way for students to provide honest feedback. Lesson plans should state these types of activities as part of the management process.

Things to Consider as a First Year Teacher

First year teachers must realize that they are learning on the job, and many situations can occur that they were not trained for. It is important to find a balance in teacher efficacy and relying on others for assistance.

There are many things to learn as a first-year teacher. It is important to show yourself grace. It is easy to feel inadequate and overwhelmed, but know that much of teaching must be learned and experienced. Experience is the best teacher, and it is great to learn from other teachers. It is best to observe fellow teachers that are positive and still have passion for the profession. They serve as effective mentors and their advice is invaluable.

The climate of your classroom and how the students feel about you is one of the most important items to take care of when you are teaching. Think about your most influential experiences as a student, and include ideas in how you will create and maintain a positive climate. Students need to feel safe and valued.

It is also essential to love the children. When you love them, the rest of the responsibility becomes easier. Teaching is one of the most challenging professional careers and requires a lot of sacrifice, patience, discipline, and most importantly, heart. However, it is one of the most rewarding and noble things you can do with your life. The relationships and influence you develop far offset the sacrifice.


Learning Pyramid (2020.)


*Updated October, 2020
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