As an Early Career Teacher (ECT), diving into lesson planning might feel like navigating uncharted waters. Even for experienced teachers, lesson planning can be a stressful area.


As an education recruitment agency, we know how vital new teachers are for the future of education, so we have gathered advice and resources to help you plan your lessons effectively and efficiently for those feeling overwhelmed.  

Start with the entire curriculum and work backwards



A study researching new teachers quoted feelings of being lost when planning lessons. Backwards lesson designs, where teachers start by looking at the entire curriculum, can help give lessons direction and structure. Instead of planning individual lessons, it’s a good idea to look at your yearly overview for the subject you are teaching.


Ask yourself questions like ‘what is the key learning?’ and ‘how can this be turned into questions to stimulate thinking and discussion?’. Seeing the curriculum as a whole is a perfect opportunity to identify links in the learning objectives, sections that need refreshing or any changes that have been made.


After determining the overall goals of the unit and what students need to know, you can start planning how to get them to this point. Keep in mind how many weeks you have to get your students towards the end objective and plan your lesson activities accordingly.

Use existing teaching resources



Some teachers spend a lot of time planning new and innovative lesson plans and can quickly become overwhelmed and find that they run out of time. Sometimes less is more when planning lessons. Reduce the time you’re spending overpreparing by making the most out of existing teaching resources. Why not ask your colleagues if they have any resources they recommend or check the school system to see what schemes they are signed up to.

Here are a few useful teaching resources you can use to plan your lessons:


  • Twinkl is one of the most widely recognised and trusted websites for teaching resources. Twinkl has a fantastic range of material that will save you lots of time and transform your lessons so you can focus on how you deliver it to your students.


  • Tes is a resource site for teachers, by teachers. You will be able to find everything you need including lesson ideas from their blog posts. You can register for free and get lots of tips and useful insights.


  • Primary Resources. If you’re looking for primary teaching resources, you should find everything you need on this website. With a wide variety of subjects including languages, art, English, mathematics, science and many more, Primary Resources focuses on a wide range of resources for the classroom.


  • Teacher’s Pet is a newer website with a range of resources, apps and services. The site is easy to operate and includes a handy classroom calendar where you can see events and awareness days that are happening worldwide, so you can plan your lessons around them.

Make it interactive



Incorporating discussions, experiments and activities into your lesson plan is key to ensure your students get involved and stay focused. Ask questions and give students time to think and respond. Try involving students in how the lesson is run by giving them choice over the activities or the order of the tasks.

Here are some interactive activities that will stimulate learning but don’t require a lot of preparation:


  • Kahoot! – Break students into teams and participate in fun quizzes on relevant topics they’ve been studying. You can find a range of quizzes that have been created by other users so all you have to do it find a relevant one!


  • Google Slides – Get your students to create slides on a particular topic and share them with the classroom. Click here to watch a video on how to make Google Slides with your students.


  • Brain dumps – Ask your students to write down everything they know or remember about a topic they have recently studied. Get them to share these with the rest of the class.

Refer to past learning



As a teacher, it is important to build on previous units, including content from previous years. To support the students’ long-term memory, be sure to refer to learning that has come up before.


Try implementing a ‘show what you know’ activity when starting new topics by having your students make mind maps or a post-it relay race. You can use their previous knowledge to plan your lessons as you will be able to identify gaps to focus on.

Be realistic about time



Time management is key! Try to think realistically about how much time each activity will take and avoid overloading a single lesson. Ensure there is enough time for students to discuss and reflect on their learning as this is where a lot of the learning takes place.


It can be a good idea to prepare a list of back-up activities in case the activity ends quicker than expected such as a video or a group discussion. Check out these five-minute lesson tasks from Tes or these creative thinking routes as ideas for easy back-up activities.

Reflect and refine



After each lesson, take a moment to reflect. What worked well? What could be improved? Continuous reflection and refinement of your lesson plans contribute to your growth as an Early Career Teacher.


Remember, lesson planning is a skill that develops with experience. Don’t hesitate to seek support, whether from colleagues, educational resources or from your consultant if you’re working with an agency.


At Affinity Workforce, we understand the importance of well-prepared and confident teaching. Use these tips to spark creativity, foster engagement, and set the stage for a successful teaching career. Happy planning!