When Should You Abandon Your Lesson Plan?

The art of improvisation: when and why language teachers should go rogue.

David Weller
5 min readNov 25, 2023


The most magical learning moments are often unplanned.

I’m sure all teachers have experienced this. The lesson takes on a life of its own and goes off-plan, but the students have an amazing learning experience.

Of course, the opposite happens too — a plan goes off the rails and is a complete disaster.

Why do these occurrences happen? How can we encourage more of the positive and less of the negative experiences?

Today we’ll look at what we can learn about abandoning our lesson plans, when we should do it, and when we shouldn’t. Plus, when we do, how do we ensure it’s a positive experience and not a flop.

Let’s start.


Why should we be flexible with our plans?

Every experienced language teacher knows that teaching isn’t an exact science; it’s more of an art form.

I remember I watched a talk from educator Adrian Underhill many years ago, who discussed the difference between being prepared and preparedness, and the importance of improvisation in the classroom.



David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.