Tip #228: Debunking Myths About Lesson Plans

Some trainers feel that if they create a lesson plan, they will lose the option to be flexible and spontaneous. However, this is entirely untrue. As any trainer who has ever used a lesson plan can tell you, we rarely, if ever, deliver the training exactly as we planned it out. Each training group has different needs, learning styles and paces, issues, and questions- and a good trainer/facilitator alters the training experience (and sometimes even the training content) to meet those needs.

The major benefit in using a lesson plan is that it ensures that key content will be covered. The sequence may be changed and additional content and/or learning activities may be added, but that is done still keeping in mind the major information and activities that need to be retained.

A well written lesson plan not only identifies the content and learning activities for each module, but also the duration of each activity. This enables a trainer to make informed decisions quickly and effectively in order to adjust to the learners’ interests and needs.

For example, an important issue may be raised by a participant that needs to be addressed. Let’s say that this new content requires thirty minutes to handle that was not originally anticipated in the lesson plan. If the next learning activity is a questionnaire that is allocated 50 minutes, with small group discussions and report outs- the trainer will need to revise how the questionnaire is facilitated.

Since there is not enough time for the small group discussions and report outs, the trainer will have to quickly select a different way to facilitate the activity in the 20 minutes that remain. The trainer may read each question and have participants indicate whether they agree or disagree by a thumbs up or thumbs down gesture. The trainer can then call on volunteers who voted differently to provide their rationale. The content will still be covered and the original learning activity will still be facilitated, just in a different fashion and for a shorter period of time.

Without a lesson plan, there is no guarantee of consistency or quality control on either the content or the learning activities. The learning experience becomes a hit or miss proposition, depending on the mood of the trainer and the interests of the learners.

With a lesson plan, the trainer is better able to adjust to the learners while still ensuring that key content is covered and the desired levels of learning are achieved through planned learning activities.

July 28, 2008

Last week, we debunked the myth that lesson plans take the flexibility and spontaneity out of training.

Ross Thomas had this to say:

“I got this latest learning tip, and I can’t agree with you more!

My training class typically runs for about 12 days. Each day I have a lesson plan with the high level content summary along with the activities that I plan to do. I also have things on the plan that I have listed that can be moved to the next day if necessary. I can’t imagine trying to conduct this training without the lesson plan that I have developed. It is such an invaluable tool and gives me the confidence and knowledge that I am covering all the topics that I need to cover.”

Thanks so much, Ross. I feel the very same way!

This week, we debunk the myth that learning = retention.

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