Teacher guides and lesson plans

According the International Institute of Educational Planning (IIEP), teacher guides must : support teachers and student learning through the following essential components: 1) explicitly communicating conceptual goals with direct links to proposed activities; 2) providing knowledge and support to help understand and implement teaching plans; 3) reinforcing pedagogical content knowledge; 4) offering practices and understandings of relevant pedagogical activities; 5) presenting alternatives and freedom of choice; and 6) engaging teachers in ongoing reflection.

In countries where teachers do not receive a quality pre-service training, these materials can help them compensate – in a relative way- their missing knowledge or practice. Thus, elaborating lesson plans and/or teacher guides seems important in order for pupils to learn in the best conditions, that is why political actors must consider giving attention to these teaching supports in order to increase quality education in their countries.

This Policy page will deal with strategies related to lesson plans as well as some strategies regarding teachers’ guides. The objective is to highlight strategies in order to help teachers by giving them a course scenario for the entire school-year.

Lesson plans and teachers’ guides must be on the alignment with the curriculum and classroom realities. They aim at helping teachers to adapt their pedagogy and to have a directive line in what they teach and how they teach it. Lesson plans, as well as teachers’ guides usually promote one pedagogical aspect: learner-centered or most often teacher-centered pedagogies. This type of teaching material indeed includes pedagogical aspects in order to help teacher managing the classroom and to transmit knowledge as efficiently as possible.

* For more information, consult Policy pages Availability and content of textbooks and Classroom practices.

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2014. Training Tools for Curriculum Development: A Resource Pack. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Training_tools/IBE-CRP-2014_eng.pdf

Promising policy options

Lesson plans appropriateness

Lesson plans and teacher guides are the two common resources when it comes to teacher education and support. Lesson plans can take several formats: they can be scripted or just shared orally between actors, most generally teachers. On the one hand, they can help vary methods and tasks since they give teachers more instruments and possibilities in their way of teaching. On the other hand, they may also prevent teachers from being free to teach in their own way, in their own timeframe. In this respect, it seems prominent to guarantee that lesson plans give enough pedagogical guidelines to teachers but are also adequate to the local context, so teachers do not feel frustrated in their way of teaching.

Moreover, it is important that teachers rely on each other while there are planning their lessons. If they do it only by themselves, not only it takes teachers a lot of time not doing other tasks, but it also prevents them from improving their teaching skills by sharing their opinion and experiences with their peers. This leads to an increase in the teachers’ availability for their students and may affect positively learning outcomes.

According to UNESCO, lesson plans must have several characteristics in order to ensure their appropriateness to the learning context:

  • Teaching and Learning Material must be put at disposition for the subject taught;
  • duration, timing, and environment must be adjusted to topic-specific learning activities;
  • a set of objectives must be reached after one lesson. These may be fixed according to the SMART goals reference, which means that they must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-scaled;
  • there has to be an elaboration of a prior organization and progression related to each activity before it is taught; and
  • it must include an evaluation, including marking and feedback and adapted to the type of activity taught.
IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Strategic Debate: Three surprises in the world’s top education systems. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/strategic-debate-three-surprises-worlds-top-education-systems-4494

Teachers’ guides content

Teachers’ guides must follow inclusiveness characteristics, which are also supposed to be present in textbooks, for instance regarding gender equality:

  • explain the subject matter and the philosophy of teaching it;
  • provide clear guidance on how to teach and assess pupils;
  • include lessons plans that are simple enough for teachers to apply them in class;
  • include the relevant excerpt from the textbooks with the number of the pages related to each specific subject. The aim is to link efficiently the teaching and learning processes;
  • be trialled and piloted in marginalized areas in order to be more realistic and helpful for teachers;
  • include suggestion for optional and more complex activities; and
  • include more detailed notes and resources to help teachers conducting lessons.
IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. Teacher Development: How will we support and train teachers? Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002348/234818e.pdf

UNESCO; International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. 2019. Teacher Policy Development Guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370966

Teachers’ guides and lesson plans provision

Teachers’ guides and lesson plans are not systematically provided together. Teacher’s guides are very much linked to textbook contents and can be printed in pairs by commercial editors, whereas lesson plans can be provided either by ministries of education together with the official curriculum or with teachers’ guides.

Ensure that teachers’ guides are available for each teacher in each class. This strategy can have a positive effect on the financing of teaching and learning material since providing one teacher guide per class is less expensive than providing one textbook to each pupil. Thus, schools could reduce the number of textbooks, and ensuring teachers to have their own.

Lesson plans, when provided together with teachers’ guides, are elaborated out of the classroom context. Thus, teachers must consider local determinants in order to adapt the suggested lesson plan to teach in the most appropriate way for students to progress and learn properly. The provision of information packs with more in-depth coverage of new subjects for teachers who do not master them already is also an important policy, particularly in the context of new teachers or contract teachers.

If teachers’ guides are difficult to provide for each teacher in each school due to printing costs, it may be an efficient solution to include lesson plans and propositions of teaching activities in the textbooks.

Batton, J.; Alama, A.; Sinclair, M.; Bethke, L.; Bernard, J. 2015. Textbooks and Other Education Materials: What key messages do we want to convey and how? Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002348/234817e.pdf

Read, T. 2011. Learning and teaching materials: policy and practice for provision. London: DFID (Department for International Development). Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk /media/57a08ab2e5274a31e000071e/09-Textbook-Procurement-How-To-Note.pdf

Other policy options

ICTs for teachers’ guidance and lessons planning

Include links to relevant online materials in teacher’s guides content and adapt lesson plans to ICTs awareness through e-learning activities in class. Create a website with regular updates and links to content accessible for free via mobile phones and make use of other networking opportunities (social media).

Westbrook, J.; Durrani, N.; Brown, R..; Orr, D.; Pryor, J.; Boddy, J.; Salvi, F. 2013. Pedagogy, curriculum, teaching practices and teacher education in developing countries. Education rigorous literature review. London: DfID (Department for International Development). Retrieved form: http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Portals/0/PDF%20reviews%20and%20summaries/Pedagogy%202013%20Westbrook%20report.pdf?ver=2014-04-24-121331-867

Stabback, P. 2016. What Makes a Quality Curriculum? Current and Critical Issues in Curriculum and Learning. No. 2. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ ark:/48223/pf0000243975

Educative curriculum materials

Educative curriculum materials enable teachers to acquire more in-depth knowledge about the subjects in the curriculum which, in turn, means they can master more the content of the lessons, and plan and assess more efficiently. Besides, it develops their general knowledge, which they can apply autonomously in flexible situations. Concretely, this type of material may take the form of a curriculum framework or a curriculum-related syllabus and are either official or support documents and they are often single documents that can be completed by teachers’ guides, year plans, and lesson plans and must correspond to the curriculum content.

Davis, E.A.; Krajcik, J.S. 2005. ‘Designing Educative Curriculum Materials to Promote Teacher Learning’. In: Educational Researcher. Vol. 34, No. 3, pp.3-14. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. Retrieved from: http://www.project2061.org/research/ccms/site.archive/documents/Promote_Teacher_ Learning.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

Develop gender-responsive lesson plans and teacher guides

Ministries of Education and teachers must ensure that existent teacher guides and lesson plans are free from gender-bias. Teacher guides and lesson plans should also help students to critically ponder on gendered-norms. For this purpose, multiple teacher guides have been produced by Ministries of Education, International Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations, in order to tackle gender issues down by enhancing inclusive practices. For instance, the IGLYO (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth and Student Organisation) Teacher’s Guide to Inclusive Education developed in 2015 helps teachers in primary and secondary schools throughout Europe to adopt inclusive practices within the classrooms (IGLYO, 2015). The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) recompile multiple guides and resources which can be mobilised by teachers to address subjects such as family diversity within their classrooms (for more information consult GLSEN, 2016). In 2014, UNESCO Bangkok published the document Lesson Plans for teaching about sexual and gender diversity in Thailand to support teachers address the issue of homophobia and more overtly help ensure ‘all learners’ right to a safe and supportive learning environment’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2014: 4).

On the other hand, teachers should make sure that the lesson plans they develop are gender-responsive. Gender-responsive lesson plans are defined by the FAWE as a plan which ‘takes into consideration the specific needs of girls and boys in all the teaching-learning processes’ (FAWE, 2006: 9).  Throughout lesson planning, teachers decide ‘on the learning materials, methodologies, content, learning activities, language use, classroom interaction, assessment and classroom set up’ and through every single one of them, gender must be taken into account (FAWE, 2006: 9).

*For precise information about gender-responsive teaching and learning materials consult Policy page Availability and content of textbooks; to learn more about developing teachers’ gender-responsive content knowledge consult Policy page Content knowledge; for information about inclusive classroom practices consult Policy page Classroom practices; to learn about gender-responsive language consult Policy page Language of instruction; to explore particular gender-responsive teaching skills consult Policy page Teaching skills.

FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists). 2006. Gender Responsive Pedagogy. Working Document Draft for the Biennale on Education in Africa. Libreville: ADEA (Asosciation for the Development of Education in Africa). Retrieved from:  http://www.adeanet.org/adea/biennial-2006/doc/document/B5_2_fawe_en.pdf

LSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). 2016. Ready, Set, Respect! GLSEN’s Elementary School Toolkit. New York: GLSEN. Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/GLSEN%20Ready%20Set%20Respect.pdf

IGLYO (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation). 2015. Teacher’s Guide to Inclusive Education.  Belgium: IGLYO. Retrieved from: https://www.iglyo.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/IGLYO-Teachers-Guide-to-Inclusive-Education2.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2014. Lesson Plans for teaching about sexual and gender diversity in Thailand. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000227707

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Teachers’ guides content

Consult the general section of the present Policy page to learn more about key recommendations to be taken into consideration when creating inclusive teacher guides.

Resources, such as UNESCO’s Guide Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms: A Guide for Teachers, have been created to provide teachers with relevant information about how to help children overcome learning difficulties as well as strategies to respond to diversity within the classroom (UNESCO, 2001). these resources have been mobilized by countries such as Tanzania, where the Ministry of Education and the Vocational Training Programme prepared the Inclusive Education Teacher’s Guide and Teacher’s Resource Pack, adapted from UNESCO resources (IBE-UNESCO, 2008a).).  

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2008. Inclusive education: The Way of the Future, Forty-eight session of the international Conference on Education. Reference document: ED/BIE/CONFINTED 48/3. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf

UNESCO. 2001. Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms: A Guide for Teachers. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000124394

Inclusive lesson plans

Research shows that lesson planning increases teaching effectiveness (UNESCO, 2001). In inclusive education systems, lesson plans must be conceived in a way in which they cater to all children’s needs, strengths, weaknesses, and diversity. They must also be designed in such a way in which barriers to learning are removed within the classrooms. Teachers can mobilize the principles of Universal Design while creating their lesson plans. For instance, teachers can include in their lesson plans (Bulat et al, 2017; CAST, 2018):

  • multiple ways to represent the concepts as well as multiple teaching strategies and materials to ensure the comprehension of all students;
  • encourage students to demonstrate their knowledge through multiple means; and
  • provide different options to keep students engaged throughout the learning process.

While planning their lessons, teachers should acknowledge the differences between learners. Instead of providing ‘different’ or ‘additional’ teaching and learning experiences for some, they should extend the range of options available to all pupils to ensure that all of them participate and learn (this avoids ability-labelling as well as the marginalisation of some children by treating them differently) (Florian, 2015).

It is recommended for teachers to work collaboratively with colleagues, parents, community and health workers as well as students, to conceive inclusive lesson plans (UNESCO, 2015; UNESCO, 2001).

Bulat, B.; Hayes, A. M.; Macon, W.; Tichá, R.; Abery, B. H. 2017. School and Classroom Disabilities Inclusion Guide for Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. Retrieved from: https://www.rti.org/sites/default/files/resources/school_and_classroom_disabilities_inclusion_guide.pdf

CAST. 2018. Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Accessed 5 July 2019: http://udlguidelines.cast.org

Florian, L. 2015. ‘Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities?’. In: Scottish Educational Review, Vol. 47, No.1, pp. 5-14.

Namibia. 2014. Ministry of Education NIED (The National Institute for Educational Development). Learning Support Teachers’ Manual. Okahandja: Ministry of Education NIED. Retrieved from: http://www.nied.edu.na/assets/documents/02Syllabuses/06InclusiveEducation/Learningsupport/IE_TeachersManual_Apr2015.pdf

South Africa. 2003. Department of Education. Teacher’s Guide for the Development of Learning Programmes. Pretoria: Department of Education. Retrieved from: https://www.education.gov.za/Portals/0/CD/GET/doc/GET_Foundation.pdf?ver=2006-11-24-105500-000

UNESCO. 2001. Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms: A Guide for Teachers. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000124394

UNESCO. 2015. Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for creating inclusive, learning-friendly environments. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001829/182975e.pd

Individual Education Plans

Guarantee that Individual Education Plans (IEP) are being used to ensure that all children get the necessary support they need to effectively participate and learn in mainstream settings, without leading to the exclusion or isolation of certain children (UNESCO, 2001). The following considerations should be kept in mind for that purpose:

  • ‘Are Individual Education Plans about providing access to, and supporting participation within, a common curriculum?
  • Do Individual Education Plans for some students improve the teaching and learning arrangements for all students?’ (Booth and Ainscow, 2002: 64).

IEPs should:

  • take into account diversity and the specific needs of each student;
  • be provided to all students (instead of solely to children with disabilities to avoid ability labelling);
  • track the students’ progress in relation to their individualized learning goals;
  • be made in collaboration with the classroom teacher, the student, the student’s family and if possible and when required, with support or specialized education centres;
  • be shared among all of the teachers to cater to all students’ needs; and
  • be reviewed by Head Teachers.
Booth, T.; Ainscow, M. 2002. Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools. Bristol: CSIE (Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education). Retrieved from: https://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/Index%20English.pdf   

Florian, L. 2015. ‘Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities?’. In: Scottish Educational Review, Vol. 47, No.1, pp. 5-14

Hayes, A. M.; Bulat, J. 2017. Disabilities Inclusive Education Systems and Policies Guide for Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3768/rtipress.2017.op.0043.1707

Loreman, T. 2017. Pedagogy for Inclusive Education. Oxford Research Enclyclopedias. Retrieved from: https://oxfordre.com/education/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264093-e-148

Meijer, C.J.W. 2001. Inclusive Education and Effective Classroom Practices. Odense: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. Retrieved from: https://www.european-agency.org/sites/default/files/inclusive-education-and-effective-classroom-practice_IECP-Literature-Review.pdf

Rotter, K. 2014. ‘IEP Use by General and Special Education Teachers’. In: Sage Open. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2158244014530410#articleCitationDownloadContainer

Save the Children. 2016. Inclusive Education: What, Why, and How – A Handbook for Program Implementers.  London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: https://www.savethechildren.it/sites/default/files/files/uploads/pubblicazioni/inclusive-education-what-why-and-how.pdf

Spratt, J.; Florian, L. 2013. ‘Applying the principles of inclusive pedagogy in initial teacher education: from university based course to classroom action’. In: Revista de Investigación en Educación, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 133-140.

UNESCO. 2001. Open File on Inclusive Education: Support Materials for Managers and Administrators. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000125237

UNESCO. 2019. The right to education for persons with disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371249

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

All policy options mentioned in the general section of this page applies to this category.

Policies for minority populations

All policy options mentioned in the general section of this page applies to this category.

Updated on 2021-06-16

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