The Online PD

Teachers working smarter

The power of clear directions

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Preventative Medicine

My second year in the classroom I couldn’t figure out why my students would behave well in lab one day and then not the other. That was until I videotaped myself. My directions- both for behavior and for the assignment- were terrible! I had been rushed the night before and hadn’t thought through exactly how I would explain the assignment and how I wanted them to behave while doing it. The difference between good days and bad days was me and how clearly I gave assignment and behavioral directions.

Don’t assume your students know what to do and how to do it! Not even in high school. You know what they say, “when you assume ….”

While general class rules apply at all times, there may be additional expectations in places like the science lab or during group work time. Especially early in the year, it is important to explicitly state your expectations during each part of the lesson. As you move later in the year, your students will be able to summarize how they should work during different times. In your directions you should state: a) what your students will be doing, b) how they will be doing it, c) what you’ll be doing during that time, and d) how they can get your attention if they have a problem or question. It’s also a good pratice to have a student paraphrase the directions so you can check for understanding.

For example, “We’re now going to move into groups to work on our practice. When I say “go” you will have 1 minute to quietly move into your groups. When you’re in your groups you are using 1 in voices and talking only with your other group members about the assignment. I will be floating around to answer questions. If you need me please raise your hands. Samantha, can you please summarize what’s about to happen?”


Written by theonlinepd

March 16, 2008 at 8:45 pm

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