Effective planning also includes instruction that is relevant to the students’ prior knowledge and experiences. Giving them choices and asking them to participate in the construction of instructional planning by providing feedback is important in establishing effective instruction. Purpose for learning is an essential aspect of planning, and the competent teaching will create instructional opportunities that clearly communicate her regard for purpose to the learners. For example, activities that require them to relate to prior knowledge indicated a need to retain information as it will be important in the future. When working with secondary students, it is especially necessary to make a connection between classroom learning and real-world experiences, focusing on future career and work options. This aspect of instructional planning is central to my beliefs about foreign language learning and teaching because I think students need to know that what they are learning is meaningful and useful to them personally. To provide evidence of this, I include a handout that I distributed to students called “Why Study French.” Students were asked to read the handout, and our subsequent discussion provided, at least for some students, answers to that critical question of purpose. As the competent teacher plans, she must always be prepared to defend her decisions regarding instruction, and being able to incorporate students’ interests and concerns shows effective implementation of the aspects of instructional planning.

A positive learning environment also emphasizes the self motivation of students. High school teachers must create opportunities in which students can have a sense of ownership in their learning, class work and the classroom. From my pre-student teaching observations, I noticed that when students are given the opportunity to choose the topic of their unit project or given a choice of activities during class, students not only feel a heightened sense of ownership, but student’s individual interests are able to be further explored. When students are interested in what they are doing, there is an increased motivation for learning. Teachers must provide opportunities for students to explore their interests in an effort to self motivate students. While student teaching, my American Government class completed Legislative Bill projects that allowed students to choose the topic of the law that their legislative bill was promoting. I set no specific topic ranges, to allow for student interest to motivate and guide students’ progress on this project. I observed that my students’ were interested in a very diverse and wide range of topics from legalization of marijuana to Social Security reform. Many of the completed projects went above and beyond my expectations and in reading their papers, it was evident that this was primarily due to the heightened level of student interest in the project.