What to Do if Students Aren't Responding Well to Your Lesson Plans


If your K-12 students aren't having the intended response to your lesson plans, this blog post will help you figure out how to handle the situation in three simple steps.

Lesson Plans Gone Awry

As a teacher, one of the most important parts of your job is lesson planning. Figuring out how you'll teach a concept to a variety of different students - all of whom learn differently, come from different backgrounds, and have different instructional requirements - can be challenging. For example, you need to be both informative and engaging as well as direct and thought-provoking.

As such, it's no surprise that lesson plans sometimes go awry. But what if this situation becomes a pattern? What if your students stop responding positively to the majority of your lesson plans? Here are the steps you should take.

A student reacts poorly to a lesson plan

Step 1: Troubleshoot the Problem

Before moving forward with a solution, first focus on the problem. What are some signs that your students aren't responding well to your lessons?

For example:

  • Do they look bored?
  • Do they talk during your lectures?
  • Do their grades suggest they aren't learning?
  • Do they give you negative feedback?

The answers to these questions can provide you with clues as to what exactly has gone wrong with your lessons. If students are falling asleep or taking extra-long bathroom breaks, it might be a sign that your lesson plans aren't engaging enough.

Further, try to determine the cause of your lesson plan issues by identifying what your failed lessons have in common. If your reading lessons go well but your math lessons tend to fall flat, you'll need to direct your corrective efforts exclusively to that one subject.

A students does not respond well to a lesson plan

Step 2: Find a Solution

Once you've determined what the issue is in your lesson plans, you can move forward with making a plan to fix them. There are many different factors that you can fine-tune in order to improve your lesson plans, including:

  • Lesson plan length
  • Materials used
  • Type of learning style engaged
  • Use of class, group, or individual work
  • Use of a preview before and a review after a lesson
  • Degree of participation encouraged/required
  • Information delivery approach


Let's say you've determined that your class is unengaged because the material is inaccessible to them. What factors need to be adjusted or removed to make the material more accessible?

For instance, maybe you need to break the subject down into smaller lesson plan chunks. Or, maybe you could try engaging different learning styles (auditory, kinesthetic, reading/writing, and visual) to help your students forge a stronger connection to the material. Perhaps you could pair stronger students with weaker students in groups so that they can explain the material to one another. Or, you could include more experiential learning that allows students to engage with the topic directly.

A teacher works on improving her lesson plans

Step 3: Implement Your New Lesson Plan

Finally, you'll need to put your plan into action. Our recommendation is to write a sample of your new lesson plan and have a fellow teacher you respect look it over and provide you with feedback. You can find ideas and inspiration by exploring the many online resources available, which can help you put together a plan that fits with the factors that need further attention. After you've received feedback and revised your sample accordingly, put the new lesson plan into action.

Evaluate Students' Responses

Take specific care when observing how your students receive the lesson. Has the original issue you previously identified been addressed? You can even ask one or two reliable students what they thought of the lesson, or distribute a survey students can use to provide anonymous feedback. Based on its success (or lack thereof), continue to make adjustments until you find what works for your class.

Remember that every class has different needs, and the need to tailor your approach to lesson planning to them doesn't mean that you're a bad teacher. In fact, it means just the opposite: that you care enough to make a change when you notice something isn't working. Good luck!

To save time and energy, check out's engaging, printable lesson plans.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
April 2019
teachers student engagement

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