As a Peace Corps volunteer, I served for two years in Tanzania teaching high school math in Swahili. Throughout this time, I used lesson plans to deliver consistent and effective lessons.
Fast forward a few years, when I returned stateside to work as a corporate engineering trainer. I never considered using a lesson plan for my instructor-led training (ILT). PowerPoint presentations were the one and only tool in my toolbox to keep my training on point.
Why did I think a lesson plan would be a helpful method for teaching high school students but for teaching not adults? Probably because in the Tanzanian high school, all the other teachers used them, and in the corporate world, none of the other trainers did. Is this a ridiculous reason for me to stop using a system I knew worked? Yes. Nonetheless, I fell into the habits of the people surrounding me without questioning them.
Now, I use some form of lesson plan for every ILT class I develop. Here are a few reasons why.
To Create Structure
While a slide deck can be helpful in sharing information with a class, it typically is not the best method for sharing:
- Required equipment and materials
- Reference materials and notes
- Instructor notes
If a slideshow had all of that information listed in it, most of learners would be asleep after the third slide. But that information is very helpful for a trainer. For each section (which I’ll refer to as a sequence) of the course, a lesson plan is a great tool to tell the trainer exactly what he or she needs to cover to meet the learning objectives.
To Ensure Consistent Delivery
Whether you haven’t taught a course in a while or you have a team of trainers, it’s vital for training delivery to be consistent.
I can already hear the protests: “If we’re all teaching the same stuff in the same way, it takes the fun out of training. I want my training experience to be personal. I don’t want to be some boring robot leading a class.”
Fear not, friend! The great thing about structure is that once you determine what trainers need to teach, they have complete freedom to choose how they’re going to teach it. The way they teach may be different, but the content will be consistent with every class.
To Plan Resources, Demo Equipment and Exercises
Have you ever started a training session and realized that you didn’t have your demo equipment ready? Have you ever tried to reference a specific graph but couldn’t remember which manual it was in? A lesson plan saves you from these classic gaffes by acting as your cheat sheet. Instead of attempting to mentally track all the idiosyncrasies associated with a course, a quick review of the next day’s sequences can bring you up to speed.
To Make It Easier for Other Trainers to Fill in
Even trainers get sick. While it’s unfortunate to fall ill in the middle of a class, it shouldn’t be a show-stopper. Lesson plans can make the transition from one trainer to another seamless. The substitute can easily pick up the course knowing only which sequence the instructor last covered.
Lesson plans are a great tool to create effective and consistent training. While it takes more time and effort to prepare them during the development process, it is a worthwhile investment. It solidifies the structure of the course and confirms what you need to create a successful learning experience.