TL; DR – Download this template to create an efficient lesson plan.

I was green as grass when I started teaching part-time at a university some years ago. While learning how to be a better teacher, I came up with a lesson planning template to keep my lectures organized and focused.

You can download it here. For a more detail explanation of how to use it, read on.

Why make a lesson plan?

As a novice instructor, I struggled with managing class time. I taught a three-hour class, which included lectures and practical in-class activities. Sometimes, I would run out of time in the middle of an activity, while other times I would struggle to fill up the remaining time. A time-bound lesson planning process helped fix that.

If you are learning to teach, you will probably be a bit nervous. When you are nervous, you can forget things or lose track of the overall learning outcomes for the day.

By using a streamlined planning template, I have managed to get a good handle on this process, while staying calm and focused on moving the class along.


I wanted a simple plan, something I could put on a lectern and periodically glance at during class without getting lost in paragraphs of text. Eventually, I created this one-page lesson planning form in Word. Conceptually the form is a synthesis of various advice and theories on lesson planning which I adapted into a streamlined layout.

If you are new to teaching or are not familiar with a class, filling out the time blocks with planned activities might be challenging at first. My rule of thumb is, assume each planned item will take at least 10 minutes longer than you anticipate.

While time slots fit neatly into boxes, in real life it takes time to shift gears in a classroom – sometimes discussions run into overtime, or students take longer to complete an assignment, or you need to go over instructions multiple times, pad your time slots to account for this.

After following this process for a few weeks, you will get a better sense of how long it takes you to present a lecture and for your students to complete different types of assignments, then you can fine-tune the time blocks to fit your needs.

Consider scheduling the main activity of the day toward the middle of the class session and less critical items, which can be moved to the next class if necessary, toward the end. Remember, flexibility is key — when outlining your lecture points as well as scheduling activities – the lesson plan is a guide, not a script.

How-to: Streamlined lesson planning