So often I hear stories about that one student, in particular, who will sit and listen, good, interact during the entire introduction to a task before putting up his/her hand and saying, “So, what are we doing today?” while everyone else groans and rolls their eyes.
This has led me to think about what makes for clear instructions and what are some ways that teachers can best communicate their intentions to students.
1. When preparing for a lesson, think to yourself: How am I going to explain this?
2. Before you start giving any instructions, ensure you have everyone’s full attention.
3. Break your instructions down into small, manageable chunks. Avoid blurting out whole slabs of information as your students may just tune out.
4. Deliver instructions in more than just one way. Say them, and have them written on the IWB, and have some props to help you model it. (The copy me technique is great for science and art activities).
5. Have students repeat the instructions back to you. Ask a student to recap the instructions so they are repeated again for everyone to hear (and in ‘child-speak’ or different wording, which might make them more accessible for some students). Students could also turn to a partner and recap the instructions or come up and write them onto the IWB.
6. On Homework tasks, provide some written instructions. That way, nobody can come back the next day and say that they can’t remember what to do. Or, in the interest of saving paper, put a copy of the instructions on a class blog, so that students know where to go if they need help.
7. Praise students who are following the instructions and doing the right thing. Positively reinforcing the behaviours that you want students to develop works wonders! (Programs such as Class Dojo now exist to serve this purpose).