Meat and rice: the notion of balance in your lessons

Published on 4th January, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Global-balanceLesson planning can be one of those situations where you stop seeing the wood for the trees. You can either be a slave to the coursebook, potentially neglecting to question what you do, or you get so caught up with what you do in the lesson, that you overlook those important components – the students!

I find a useful way to view my lesson plans is to take a few paces back and plan with the notion of balance at the forefront of my mind. For me, with the classes that I teach at the moment, the main balance is: input and output; ‘me time’ and ‘them time’; ‘quiet time’ and ‘noisy time’; accuracy work and fluency work; receptive versus productive, etc. I’m sure you can think of your own metaphors for these: I often perceive clarification of language – whether grammatical, discoursal or lexical – to be ‘the meat’ or the protein, whereas skills work is ‘the rice’ or the carbohydrates! This metaphor reminds us that both elements are needed for a healthy student. If you rate meat over rice in your diet, then perhaps find a more neutral pairing, such as ‘yin’ and ‘yang’. Next week we’ll look at one or two practical ways to focus on this.


  • Thank you for sending me your ideas about a
    successful lesson. Kate

    Doromby Katalin on 14 January, 2010
  • Couldn’t agree more! I’m waiting for the follow up with impatience.

    Chris on 14 January, 2010
  • Perfect metaphors! I really love it!

    Charlie on 15 January, 2010
  • Superb! I’m looking forward to reading your next week tip.

    titti on 15 January, 2010
  • Glad you found the tip and metaphors useful! I’ve certainly found it helps give me a perspective on my lessons.

    Frances Watkins on 16 January, 2010
  • Great metaphor, and it is great teachers take time to reflect on what happen with our class and for this year 2010 address our classes to get healty students

    Velia Ochoa on 20 January, 2010
  • I am really glad to have a teacher like you who inspires me in teaching . I will look more about my lesson plan and also my students.
    Thanks a lot for goodness

    lersak on 21 January, 2010
  • Thanks. It´s a good reminder for teachers! Our plans should be not only “nutritious” but also “spicy”.

    Raquel Castellano on 31 January, 2010
  • Looking forward to the next one.Your metaphor is great!

    Corazon P. Zinampan on 1 February, 2010
  • Thanks for this useful section. Marvelous metaphor you’ve got there. Looking forward to the next issue.

    Corazon P. Zinampan on 1 February, 2010
  • Very true. If there is too much of one element, it can get boring for the students. But remember there should be a bridge to get them to go from one aspect to another – reading to talking; writing to listening (and responding orally); etc.

    Chaya on 2 March, 2010
  • I’ve found this extremely enlightening. Although you mention no new concepts you were able to put into words what we teachers feel: that balance in a class is of utmost importance.
    Cool 😉

    Paula on 6 March, 2010