Trainer Toolkit – Lesson Plans
A lesson plan is an often overlooked tool in the course documentation that a trainer has. There are many tools a trainer can use to deliver professional training courses. A lesson plan should not be forgotten as it has many benefits to the trainer and the audience.
Why have lesson plans?
A lesson plan is the equivalent for the trainer to the notes that a public speaker, presenter or lecturer may have. A TV presenter often has an autocue, but sadly this is not something that is present in a training environments – it would be nice though! A lecturer in a university for example has to present one or more lessons on the same subject to a different audience during the year and then the following year, there are a new set of students who require the same lecture. A lesson plan is the road map that guides you from the start to finish of the course with all the relevant road signs that you and your participants need to be aware of during delivery.
A training course that is developed and delivered by a trainer has key messages, learning objectives and exercises, to name but a few interactions. The lesson plan provides the map through the learning to keep the trainer on track and to ensure that nothing is missed. The timing for each session within the course and the learning objective for each session is documented. Any key questions, learning points and support material are listed. It is not a fully comprehensive, scripted word by word script that is provided in a trainer guide. It is a plan of training delivery or all trainers so that they avoid missing the vital content that will ensure a consistent approach and format to the delivery of the content.
The benefit to the learner will be a structured approach where all relevant topics are delivered in a logical order, enabling them to engage, interact, understand and retain the information presented.
The benefit to the trainer is to have a clear route through the course.
- Consistency in delivery
- Key session topics
- Key messages and learning points
- Learning objectives per session
- Timings for sessions and breaks
- Questions to ask
- When to display slides, or handout documentation or exercises
- Method of delivery including use of flipcharts, breakout groups etc
- Summary and evaluation
- Follow up courses or learning such as homework for the next day
If you have a Lesson Plan to support you as you run your first few courses, it will keep you on track.
Another trainer who has to take over the running of the course has something to work with. This will enable consistency of delivery of content and method by different trainers. If you have a new trainer sitting in on your course they can make their own notes on the lesson plan to help them when the time comes for them to run the course alone.
Structure of a Lesson Plan
There are many examples of a lesson plan on the internet, many of which are free to download and use as a template. Take a look at the following format to give you an idea of what is useful to include.
Include the timings of the whole course and what it is designed to achieve. For the Topic or session timings you may want to include a start time as a guideline. This will help you keep on track. You will see if you are getting ahead of time, but also you will see if you are behind time. Do not be tempted to rush through or skip bits to make up the time. Remember that you have developed a lesson plan with ALL the things that need to be covered in that course.
Within the course there will be session topics that relate to the key learning points, each of which has its own learning target. This is what the participants need to be able to do at the end of that session. How will you assess whether they achieve each learning target? Remember to note this down in your lesson plan.
Another tip is to use graphics as in the example above –
for when you need to ask questions and
to indicate a key point.
Speaking from experience
We have delivered many training courses in the past and find that even after running a course over and over again, having a lesson plan keeps you focused. It is easy to be complacent and think you know the running order and you do not need the lesson plan anymore. Also, beware, it is easy to be side-tracked by a question that leads to another topic which will use up valuable time for your training content.
During our Train The Trainer courses, we always introduce the lesson plan, amongst many other tools. Although many of the participants are often new to training, there are always several who are already trainers and it is quite surprising to find they often have never seen a lesson plan before yet such a useful tool. Our participants often feel that the course was worthwhile because of the lesson plan to guide them in their own delivery. It gives them confidence and assurance that they are able to cover the content adequately and professionally.
As part of our Training Skills for Better Performance course we issue a template for a Lesson Plan as well as many other hints and tips to put in your trainer toolkit. The Lesson Plan is just one of the many tools that we provide.