Peps McCrea: Lean Lesson Planning

How to do less and achieve more in the classroom

Teachers are busy. More than ever before. There just isn't enough time in the day. However, we can't do anything about time. What we can change is what we DO with that time.

The Pareto Principle suggests that in many situations in life, 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the inputs. In the context of teaching, this means that some aspects of your teaching and planning have more impact than others.

Well planned lesson

If you want to increase your performance and take a bit of pressure off, some Pareto Analysis is a great place to start. Figure out which bits of your lessons have most impact, and then focus ruthlessly on developing those.

Here are 3 tips to help you increase your input:impact ratio even further:

1. Backwards design (Mctighie)

When effective teachers plan they start with the end in mind. The clearer you understand where you want your pupils to get, the easier and quicker you'll be able to get them there.

2. Shortest path (Lemov)

Forget fancy, over-complicated learning experiences. Opt for activities that will get your pupils to the end point via the most direct route. Eliminate superfluity and focus ruthlessly on your goal.

3. Exit assessment

The more accurate your understanding of what they know when they walk out the door, the more efficiently you can plan for future learning. At the end of your lessons, give your students a piece of paper with a few simple questions on it that they hand to you as they leave the classroom. A quick trawl will help you determine who knows what, and where best to start next lesson.

These are simple ideas, but they require discipline to execute over time. Make them part of your teaching and planning routines and not only will you be making better use of your time, but you'll have more mental space for smelling the roses along the way.

For more insights into high input:impact teaching, check out Peps's latest book, Lean Lesson Planning: do less and achieve more in the classroom.

Please add your thoughts in the comments section below. Does the 80:20 rule apply to your teaching and planning?


Peps Mcrea
Peps Mccrea is an award-winning author, teacher educator, researcher and edtech entrepreneur. He is a Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education at a large University in the UK, and co-founder of edtech startups Staffrm and Numeracy Ready.