Planning Lessons with Pace

I consider a sense of pace to be one of the most vital aspects of successful lessons.  It is also something that it takes trainee teachers a long time to get right: that sense that experienced teachers get about how long an activity should take, how hard they can push students on any particular task and where in lessons students need to slow down is just something that can only be learnt through trial and error.

Planning a pacey lesson is also something that is not all that easy to cover in a CPD session; it is more a matter of continuous reflection on lessons rather than any specific ‘teachable’ skills.  That said,  this post will contain a session covering 5 specific techniques that aim to help teachers instil a sense of pace in lessons.  These techniques then need to be ‘practised’ live in front of a class to get them right.

In order to make this a practical session, and also to ensure that the session was created with in-built uptake time in mind, I asked the trainees to bring with them, either on computer or in the form of printed slides, a lesson that they had planned but not yet taught.  The aim was that after the content of the session had been covered, they spend some time reflecting on and improving their planning in relation the content of the session.

The session:

1) Learning the techniques

In the first part of the session, the participants have to familiarise themselves with 5 techniques.  These are included in the resources attachment at the bottom of the post, and are all taken from the book, ‘Teach Like a Champion’.  This is done through expert groups, where pairs will become expert at one technique then move into different fours as they share their technique with another pair, swapping groups until all techniques are covered.  I include a recording table in the slides with space to make notes about each technique.

2) Reflecting on planning

The participants now move into pairs talking their lesson through with a partner.  Below is a  list of coaching questions that I gave to each participant, based upon the techniques covered earlier in the session, to help generate reflective conversations:

Change the paceHow can you introduce a balance between active and passive activities?Have you got any activities that might take too long? How can you break this up?
Brighten linesHow can you ensure that the beginnings and endings of all activities are clearly demarcated?How can you signal to students that activities are ending, or drawing near to a close?
All handsHow can you increase the number of students involved in the learning?How can you prevent pace being taken out of the lesson from distractions?
Look forwardHow can you build a sense of anticipation about where the lesson is going?Do students know where they are heading? How have you conveyed this?
Work the clockHow are you conveying a sense of urgency through timings?How can you use timings to improve transitions?

Finally, the participants complete an exit card, detailing the changes that they want to make in their lesson planning.

Please find the resources below; I hope the session is useful.

Pace Resources

Pace PowerPoint



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