Just as a syllabus provides a road map to the course for TAs and students, so the session plan provides a guide for a single class. Devising a session plan will:

  • help you determine the important knowledge, skills, and habits of mind you want students to acquire and demonstrate during the session and force you to arrange them hierarchically and logically;
  • help you “edit” the amount of material you reasonably can cover during the session;
  • encourage you to consider alternative, “non-outline” ways to organize information such as diagrams, tables, or concept maps; and
  • ensure that you complete the mundane but critical tasks such as “write goals on board,” “hand back Bill’s paper,” “remind students about quiz.”

Provide a short outline—three to five main points would be plenty—that you can write on the board to help students follow the arc of that day’s session. After you complete each section of the day’s schedule, you can provide or ask for a three-sentence summary of:

  • what knowledge/skills were learned during that section of the outline,
  • how that section related to what was learned earlier in the course, and
  • how the material might relate to the following sections of the outline.

If you get off track, determine whether the material still proves to be a good teaching moment. Explain to students how the issue relates to the course. If it does not, acknowledge that and get back on track.