Imagine this scenario: You’ve started a brand new lesson (from our toolkit or elsewhere), and you teach it throughout the entire class, but it takes longer than expected, and you now need to finish this lesson in the next class.
How are you going to do that? What happens if you don’t make it to a clear ending point in class 1? How can you make sure your learners are ready to pick up where you left off in class 2?
We’ve got you covered! Check out our suggestions below to make sure you’re prepared for this scenario– it’s quite common and easy to work around!
So you get through part of the lesson, but you’re several activities away from the end of the lesson, and you have to end class. There’s not really a nice stopping point at this part of the lesson, though. What should you do? Take the following steps, which we’ll call a “stop-and-reflect point”.
-Think about the activities that have been completed so far in this lesson. Have your learners encountered and understood new vocabulary? Have they seen a new grammar point in action? Were they working with functional phrases to communicate in a specific context? Were they listening to a podcast or reading an article or email?
-Think about what language they’ve encountered, experimented with, and used thus far. Ask them to share what new words or phrases they’ve learned today, or to use the new grammar structure they’ve been working with in an example. If they’ve been working with a listening or reading material, ask them to share a summary, or make a prediction about what will happen next.
All of these types of questions can be used as an exit ticket, which is a great way to get learners to reflect on what they’ve learned in a given class. It also gives you a window into what learners have retained thus far. We end each of our lessons with an exit ticket, because we know how valuable they are, but if you need to end a class before the lesson has been taught 100%, you can absolutely create your own exit ticket!
You also have the option to do some form of formative assessment in class, such as a short quiz to gauge learners’ comprehension thus far of a structure, set of vocabulary, or anything else! A little review and reflection are a great way to bring a class to a close, so think of how you’ll do this if you’re getting to the final 15 minutes of a class and you know you won’t be able to finish the lesson.
If you’re faced with finishing the class before all of the lesson has been taught, don’t worry! Once you’ve done a bit of a wrap-up as described in the previous point, you’re ready to assign learners a task. What was the focus of your exit ticket? You can easily use that as a basis for the task you want to assign. For example, if they listed vocabulary words they learned in class, you can ask them to use those words in example sentences, search for antonyms/synonyms to share in the next class, or ask them to brainstorm words they believe are related. If the reflection point was more grammar-based, you might assign them a context to write an email or WhatsApp message about, or even make an Instagram post about, using that new grammar point. It doesn’t have to be a long assignment, just something that will give them a bit of extra practice between now and the next lesson!
Our teacher toolkit contains PDFs that correspond to our lessons, so you can download those (even on a free account) to share with learners, or simply take a look at one of the writing tasks there and assign it verbally in class.
It’s never a problem to let learners know that the lesson is not finished yet! After having reflected, assigned a bit of extra work, and perhaps shared some feedback on what they’ve done well today, let them know what they’ll be doing in the next class. Try something like:
“We made a lot of progress today with the present perfect! Well done, everyone. Now, remember to review the verbs list I’m sending you via email. In our next class, we are going to finish this lesson and you need to know the participle form. Study the list and I’ll see you on Wednesday!”
This helps learners understand that 1) there is more to be done with the material they learned today and 2) they need to prepare for class next week by doing a specific action (in this example, studying the list of participle verb forms).
Ok, so you’ve wrapped up the class with a bit of lesson left over for the next class. How do you start that second class? Let’s call the second half of this multi-class lesson operation a “Review and Re-start Point”.
When you welcome the learners back to this second class, make sure you start with a chance to review anything that you’ve assigned them. If you asked them to find synonyms or antonyms for vocabulary words, for example, you need to have a moment to have everyone share and comment on their findings. It’s important to show learners that you care about their work outside of class, so if you’ve assigned some sort of practice or production, make sure you’re giving them a chance to get feedback on it!
Re-start the lesson with a warm-up. All of our lessons at The TEFL Lab start with a warm-up, but if you’re picking up in the middle of a lesson, you’ll need to think of a great way to start this class off. Try one of the following:
-Ask learners to brainstorm vocabulary/grammar rules/functional phrases that they learned in the previous class
-Ask learners to share what they remember about the previous class in 60 seconds or less (this one is great for STT as well!)
-Prepare 3-4 questions to ask learners about the content from the last class– these could be open-ended, or they could be multiple choice / true false.
After leading learners through a review or reflection of what they completed in the previous class, choose if you want to review or repeat anything from the previous class– this could be as simple as looking at a chart or other type of scaffolding that you reviewed in the previous class, or could be as involved as completing an activity a second time. Either way, select for yourself what you think merits a second glance before diving back in.
From there, you should be ready to continue with the lesson and complete it in this second class. Sometimes you might have a project or lesson you teach in class that spans even longer then two class sessions– that’s alright, too, you just have to make sure that you’re building in these stop-and-reflect points, as well as these review-and-re-start points!
It can feel nerve-wracking to do this in class if you haven’t before, but don’t worry! With more experience, you’ll feel confident about how to book-end your classes even if you haven’t been able to finish a specific lesson or task. Here are a few more tips on how to make sure you’re prepared for classes like these:
-If you know the particular material being taught is going to be a challenge for learners, OR if you know you’re using long-form material for a short class, go through in advance and choose 1-2 places in the lesson where you think it’s likely you’ll reach before the class finishing, and prepare the steps above with that progress point in mind. That way, you won’t feel like you’re making everything up as you go when it’s time to end the class!
-Check out the PDF that corresponds to the lesson you’ve taught. If it’s a fit, download it in advance so you can pull it up in class and show your learners what they will receive and which part you want them to focus on. Having that at the ready is a great confidence booster and will save you some time as you wrap up the class.
-Make a note to yourself as to what slide, and even more specifically, what activity or number your learners reached before too much time passes after the class. If you’re very forgetful, pull your phone out and record yourself on your own mic saying to the class what their homework is, and repeating aloud where you’re ending the lesson. Not your thing? Make a note in your phone or wherever else you keep your teacher notes (a special notebook? A Trello board?) so you have the information you’ll need to get ready for the next class. This is especially important if you’re teaching the same lesson to multiple courses, because each course might have a slightly different checkpoint when you finish a class with them. Keep all those details straight to guarantee you’re ready when it’s time for the next class!
With the tips above, you’re ready to tackle anything in class, whether you’re certain you’ll have time to finish it in 30, 45, or 60 minutes or not. Creating these stop-and-reflect and review-and-re-start moments are an essential part of teaching materials across multiple classes– but in reality, it’s just a reminder for you to create the essential warm-ups, reflections, and reviews that most lessons need anyway, so it’s not a hard skill to develop. When you’ve done it just a few times, you’ll feel empowered and confident in your classes to take on challenges that you know will benefit your learners– and you’ll also feel prepared to give your learners the time and work pace they really need in each class without fretting over the need to wrap a lesson up perfectly in a predetermined amount of time.