Teachers (Part 5): Getting Organized: Develop A Lesson Plan
Article ID: 2889
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,612
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Posted: July 16th. 2000
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Many people are investigating the religions of Witchcraft, Wicca and other Neo-Pagan Paths today. There are many books and reference materials available, yet after some self study, there are some folks who would like to meet and perhaps work with a physical teacher. This can be a rewarding learning experience - or it could turn out to be your worst nightmare...
Remember your favorite teacher? The one whose class was always interesting and the time seemed to fly by? You also probably got a decent grade in this class. Why?
In contrast, if you have ever been subjected to a talk or lecture being presented by a "rambler". you know to what agonizing tortures the human mind can be subjected to without going completely mad.. I have left many a lecture hall with "jaw cramps." You know what those are. They result from two opposing forces: the overwhelming need to yawn widely and the cultural desire not to seem rude or bored. Checking your lecture notes after an experience like this will probably reveal more interesting samples of random doodling than anything of substance on the subject presented.
Chances are good that your favorite teacher, on the other hand, loved the subject and wanted you to love it, too. It became interesting to you because the teacher was so enthusiastic about it that you couldn't help but become interested.
Your favorite teacher may have used some rather unorthodox methods to get the points across: hands-on experiments, lots of visuals, explaining concepts through parables and stories, field trips (Hint: This is always a winner with the students!), acting out the part of a famous person and lots and lots of good natured humor.
Your comments were welcome (even encouraged); your questions were answered truthfully and the class seemed almost effortless.
All of that may have seemed quite spontaneous to you as the student. The teacher was very, very cool. The teacher was also very, very organized.
This kind of teaching is an art form. Some teachers have a real knack for it. It requires a great amount of familiarity with the subject matter combined with a kind of "internal gauge". The class that seems to be very loose and open-ended is actually keeping right up to date with the required course study mandated by the school. At the end of the semester, the entire course outline has been delivered right on time. There WAS a plan all along and the teacher stuck to it-by being organized.
Here is a worksheet for developing a lesson plan or course study. You can make up your own format, but this sequence seems to work very well. (Many writers use a similar form to keep story ideas and works-in-progress easy to access when the muse strikes.)
The first few times that you try this, it may seem somewhat tedious if you are the type that is usually pressed for time or too "left brained" if you are one who is comfortable "just winging it." If you stick to it though, you'll be setting up a course of study that will allow you a great deal of freedom and ease in the end. Having a plan in mind gets everybody going and keeps them going right on track. The lesson looks spontaneous and effortless only because the planning and organization part is already done way ahead of time. Developing that "inner gauge" allows you to recognize the correct time to pull the attention of the class back to the main topics and when to allow the general discussion to continue for a while. It is kind of magickal how some teachers can do this so well.
You can do it, too.
PAGAN STUDY COURSE OUTLINE:
DATE: Write down either the date of the lesson itself, the date that you first formulated the idea (Good for ideas that you may want to file for now and flesh out later.) or seasonal dates for a developing course of study. This will alert you to the fact that the lesson may need some updating or at what time of year that this lesson is most appropriate. (Lessons on the Holidays are the obvious example.)
Set up a filing system that suits your study course. Allow for an "idea" file for those courses you want to add later. Arrange the categories according to type: History, Holidays, Rituals, Tools, etc. If you develop a sequence of courses, keep these in one file and in order, but still retain a separate copy in the category topic file. (This makes research so much easier than trying to dig through a myriad of miscellaneous sections!)
Bring your lesson sheet with you and check it often. Keep to your scheduled time whenever possible. It is frustrating for both you and your students when you have to hurry through the last part of the class because too much time was taken up on side point. You want to build up to your dramatic "big finish." If your timing is good, your final points will be inspiring. If you try to make them over shifting chairs, glances at the clock or general fidgeting, they will be lost. (There is that "inner gauge" thing again.)
If your students are sorry that the class ended 'so soon", you just know that they will be looking forward to the next one!
After the last student has gone home and you have tidied up, take a few minutes to jot down some of the questions that you were asked or comments that were made and any other impressions that you may have picked up on.
- TOPIC: Be as general or as specific as you need to be to find things easily. You should be able to flip through your folders and pull out what you are looking for without resorting to divination.
- REFERENCES: This is very, very important! List all the books/resources that you use in developing the lesson right here and right away. If you have ever muttered to yourself, "Where did I read that again...?", you'll appreciate the value of following this step religiously. Then as you read more material-and that little light bulb goes off in your head that indicates that this new material relates to something in one of your old lessons-you can simply reach into that folder and add it to your reference list. (Much neater looking than a bizillion sticky notes, too!)
- OVERVIEW/LESSON STRUCTURE: Notes to yourself on how you plan to present the lesson. List any tools, visual aids or other materials that you want to have on hand to further explain/illustrate the lesson. List your main points here or the steps in the study lesson. Insert key words, list book pages that you want to read out loud and any historical notes ( Names and dates work better than "some Roman guy once said"...)
- INTRODUCTION/GOALS: The introduction should be brief. Avoid taking a long time here to get into the depth of the lesson. The introduction should serve to arouse interest in the subject and any expectations that you may require of your students.
- MAJOR POINTS: The one or two things that you really want your students to understand. Mention these often and keep going back to them. This is the essence of your lesson or point of the study. These are the "If only they come away knowing one or two things from this class" things.
- ILLUSTRATIONS/APPLICATIONS: If your lesson involves something that the student will physically repeat, demonstrate any techniques slowly please. Do it several times. Give the students time to take notes. If the lesson is a mental one, use stories/myths to illustrate the point. Tell them how this will apply to their magickal work and why it is important. Make it real and make it relevant. Let them ask questions.
- CONCLUSION: Many times the application is the conclusion. Otherwise, it's helpful to summarize the main points of the lesson. Make it clear that the study part of the time slot is over. Avoid just trailing off. A defined transition from serious study to relaxed conversation makes it easier to keep the role of teacher separate from the role of friend or acquaintance. You can enjoy a "wind down" period, too-so break out the juice and cookies!
Obviously, you want to build a lesson plan or course of study that is both meaningful and interesting. YOU will learn something new with each class. Apply that knowledge to your next one. Good Luck!
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