What does a great lesson plan look like from an outsider’s point of view? If you were to design a perfect lesson plan, what characteristics do you think it would contain? Oftentimes, teachers think they are creating an amazing lesson plan until it falls short, and they find out it wasn’t that amazing after all.

Sometimes you may even surprise yourself and find that the quickie lesson that you put together in a matter of minutes was the one that really hit home with your students. But what exactly did you do that really spoke to your students? More concisely, what teaching strategies did you use that made that lesson plan effective?

Here are five basic teaching strategies to deliver an effective lesson plan. These characteristics can be used in any grade.

1. Have an Objective

Having an objective for your lesson isn’t just important for you to know why you are teaching the lesson, but it’s important for the students to know why they need to learn what you are teaching them. As you are planning for your lesson, think about what you need your students to know and what are they going to take away from your lesson. After you have figured this out, then you need to explain your objective to the students so they know why they need to learn what you are about to teach them. Try to offer real-word examples if you can.

2. Model Your Expectations

Before you begin your lesson, make sure that you teach and model your expectations for the lesson. For example, if you were teaching a science experiment, the first thing that you would do is show the students how to properly use the materials. You would also tell them the consequences of what would happen if they do not handle the materials properly.

3. Actively Engage Students

Children learn by doing, not just by hearing. Get your students engaged in the lesson by having them partake in hands-on activities. Use cooperative learning techniques or technology like an iPad or a whiteboard to enhance your lesson. Keep their minds and hands moving and you’ll see that it will help you reach your lesson’s objective.

4. Be Mobile

While students are busy applying the skills that you have taught them, you need to be mobile and move around the classroom to make sure all students are keeping on track with what they are supposed to be doing. Take this time to answer any questions, give the children who may be off a task a gentle reminder, and scan the classroom to make sure all is going as planned. As you move about the classroom, ask students critical thinking questions to strengthen their comprehension skills. Use ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions to make sure that you are meeting your objective.

5. Compliment Positive Behavior and Hard Work

When you see a student paying attention, working hard, and doing what they are supposed to be doing to meet your goal, compliment them. Make sure that all students see you doing this, so they will understand why you are pleased and in turn try to meet your objective for the lesson in a positive way as well.

Once your lesson’s objective has been met, take a moment to reflect upon what had worked and what did not in your lesson. Look for any patterns that may have come up, or try to find what you were lacking in a particular area. Once you are armed with this knowledge of self-reflection, you can take that information and do something with it. Talk to your colleagues or go to an online teaching blog and talk about what you discovered and get others’ input. You will find this self-reflection to be extremely valuable in developing your skills as an educator. This deep understanding will only help your lessons become more effective.