A lesson plan is the teacher's blueprint for the lesson. It's a map that helps guide the teacher through the lesson. Without a plan you would do as well as a carpenter would without a drawing of the house he is about to build.
Many authorities may tell you that your lesson plan needs to as detailed as possible so that you could give it to another teacher and have them carry it out. In the beginning you may want to do that. Although it's not very practical for the classroom. You may want to write up a more simple one for the classroom.
In the beginning of my ESL teaching stint I would spend a lot of time lesson planning. However, it usually wasn't time well spent. I would write out these really detailed lessons that I couldn't even read when I needed to reflect on it in the classroom. All I saw was a mass of text and I was desperately searching for what to do next.
It led to a few problems. I didn't need for it to be so detailed.
- An outline was all I needed. When you are teaching a class you may need to look at that plan and if it's a mass of text you'll get lost.
- It's got to be clear and simple. You have to use indentations to help highlight the key parts of the lesson. You will need to glance at it during the lesson not stop and read it.
In the beginning you can't assume that the students will act according to your plan. Your plan can't be, "I will do this and then they will do that." They will do as you say if you're right in the way you implement it. If you're not then they won't which will leave to gaps and downtime in your lesson. That is what will lead to problems and classroom management issues.
In the beginning it's pretty likely that you will make some mistakes and that you won't know how they will react to your plan.
You need a lot of activities, exercises and games and if I was to start all over again I would spend more time learning activities and games to be used in the lesson than writing up theoretical plans for how that lesson should work in the classroom.
It's a give and take. Your lesson plan is a start, but it's not the end because sometimes things do not go as planned. You have got to be able to be flexible and you need backups.
In my first two contracts in Taiwan I would usually spend quite a bit of time planning and funny enough I was getting paid by the hour, so my planning time wasn't included, but it was expected. In those days I was envious of a friend who said he spent hardly any time planning.
Eventually I got to the point where I wouldn't normally spend much time at all. I'd just look at the book and have some ideas for activities to add to the lesson. There were many lessons where I didn't write a plan and they were usually o.k because the plan was in my head.
But I would still write down an outline though, because sometimes you forget what you were going to do. Especially when you have a lot of classes. From one class to the next something could happen that throws you off balance, so writing down an outline helps. You can even write a daily plan down on the board.
Many ESL teachers in Asia teach anywhere upwards of 5-9 classes a day. Most teachers in Korea working in hagwons teach 6 hour long classes in a row. Those teaching in kindergartens teach around 9. In the real world that's just not enough time to lesson plan as you are told.
Your lesson plan can't be detailed in the classroom. For it to work it has to be simple.