You did your best…

April 17, 2023


Last week we went to a playground because it was good weather (finally I would almost say..).

With three kids in the age range of 1 to 7, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a place that is suitable for all.

Luckily we have found a few good spots to go to.

We selected the playground because it was suitable for the oldest one (lots of possibilities to climb), the middle one (a play castle he could run around in) and the youngest one (a bit of sand and play materials).

On arrival, the oldest two ran off immediately, only to come back when they were hungry.

I took the youngest one to play in the sand. Which he was bored with within minutes.

Then I put him on a small swing. Which was fun for about one minute.

Only after he got a few small wooden sticks he had found what he wanted to do: push these wooden sticks through the holes in the bench I was sitting on.


A whole playground to play in and he plays with a few wooden sticks for more than half an hour.

Obviously, it was adorable.

But it also felt a bit disappointing in a way. We tried really hard to find a place that he would like, only for him to completely ignore what we thought would be fun and make his own choices.

The kid is 1.

Things don't always go as planned

Anyway, my point is: this is what happens in class as well.

You can prepare a great lesson.

Make sure you implement scaffolding, accommodate differentiation and activate prior knowledge.

And your students might still think: never mind. I’ll do something else.

Which can be frustrating, especially if you spend a lot of time preparing the lesson.

There are a few things I want to say about this:

1. Preparing a lesson shouldn’t take too long

I know for a fact I could spend more time preparing my lessons. And they would probably improve if I did that.

But that is not what I want to spend my time on.

I focus on the things that work best and stay away from micromanaging.

Do you know the Pareto principle? Or the 80/20 rule?

This idea says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.

In other words: 80% of the learning outcomes of your students will come from 20% of your preparation.

I prefer staying away from things that have very little impact and focusing on the ones that have a big impact.

With as little preparation time as possible.

2. Things will go ‘wrong’, and that is okay.

Especially when you just start out with teaching, it can be hard to improvise if things don’t go as planned.

Even more experienced teachers encounter this.

I have had discussions with teachers with years of experience in teaching but insecure about the implementation of CLIL.

They always felt it wasn’t ‘good enough’ because things didn’t go as planned.

My take on this is: if your students are learning and are engaged with the lesson (both the content and the language) you can go off track every now and then.

I know I do. And the students like that. It makes me more human if I for example talk about my kids every now and then.

Which is never planned, I assure you.

3. Don’t over plan things

What I mean by that, is that teachers tend to want to do too much. Especially when it comes to CLIL.

Part of that is because teachers feel like a lot of things need to happen in a CLIL lesson.

It can also be because teachers overestimated students.

Or underestimate the time it takes to do a task.

No matter the reason, I try to limit the number of things I do in my lessons.

And before you ask, there is no ‘minimum amount’ of CLIL tasks to complete in a lesson to ‘make it CLIL’.

But what can help, is to have a few activities you can always implement that require no preparation time at all.

And that is something I want to help you with as well.

How I want to help you with this

This week I will host a free webinar on doing exactly that: preparing a CLIL lesson in a way you feel more confident and know exactly what to do.

I will share a clear step-by-step plan you can use to prepare any CLIL lesson, and activities you can use without preparation time.

The webinar will take place at three different moments, to accommodate different timezones.

Hope to see you live during one of the webinars!

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