A good lesson is like…

…a journey?

…a film?

…a night out?

What would be your answer and why?


I decided to go back to basics in this post and look at the fundamentals of a good lesson. I got in touch with my teacher friends and asked them to fill in the blanks…


…and I got some interesting answers…










What poetic friends I have!

I like the journey analogy, as well as the meal. But this was the reply I identified with the most…


Click here to watch Steven Spielberg talking about what makes a good thriller…



“A thrilling movie is all about a story.”

What’s the topic of your class? Not a grammar point. Not listening skills. What’s it actually about? What story, film clip, audio clip or image are you going to base the class around? Maybe it’s a story about you, or something that happened to one of your students. Maybe it’s a funny video you saw on Facebook last night or an image in the news that everyone’s been talking about. Maybe it’s just the text from the book. That’s fine. Just make sure it’s something interesting!


“You can have all the filling you want, but you’d better have a couple of good slices of bread to stuff it in.

How are you going to start the class and grab the students’ attention? Are you going to go straight in with your story, image etc., or are you going to play a game, settle the students or start with a routine? More importantly, how is the lesson going to end? What meaningful production stage are you going to have and how much time are you going to spend on it? End on a high and leave them wanting a sequel!


And the filling?…

Try planning backwards.What steps do you need to take to get to your final production stage? What are the key elements of your story that need telling? What key language do the students need to complete the task?

Also, is there something for everyone in there? The reason blockbuster movies are so successful is that there’s a little romance, action, comedy and suspense all woven in to the narrative. Does your class have a variety of activities? A little speaking, writing, individual and groupwork? Perhaps your class is going to climax with a showstopping mingle. What do you need to do to get there?

Also, what’s worked well in the past? Filmmakers recycle tried and tested plots and techniques all the time. If you haven’t got a bag of tricks already then start putting one together. Read blogs, talk to colleagues, do peer observations, go to insett sessions – they’ll all give you new ideas. And if your bag of tricks is looking a bit worn and outdated, then maybe it’s time to get a new one!


The editing

How old are your students? What are their energy levels like? Do you think they’d react better to action-packed bursts or long, lingering scenes allowing them to reflect.

If they’re 7 years old, chances are they will need plenty of changes during the class. If they’re tired adults at the end of their working day, they may well want something different.’Edit’ your class effectively when you’re planning and you’ll keep them on the edge of their seats.

Okay. Analogy over. I think you get the idea.

These posts might also be useful when thinking about the fundamentals of a good class…

Have I missed something? Maybe you completely disagree and think a good lesson is more like a banana than a film. Leave a comment and let me know.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s