Sunday, November 11, 2018

Giving Directions

Giving clear, simple, and repeated directions to students is highly important.  If I have a class of students with very different strengths and weaknesses, it is even more important - and will help all students.  I know many people will read this and say to themselves "well, of course...."  But however simply I  break my directions down,  I realize I can probably break them down even more.

It's easy for me to assume that the students can infer a step - but then I realize I have been exposed to this lesson a whole lot longer than they have! - So they don't have the background to infer what to do next.

I make my directions clear and brief. If there are multiple steps, writing them as well as saying them is useful - students can refer back to the directions, thereby increasing their sense of independence and control.  Lately I have seen some veteran teachers asking specific students to repeat the directions in a very effective way.  Done every day with different students, no one feels singled out - its just part of the routine.

For long term assignments in upper grades, I love it when I am helping a student and the assigning teacher has given them a handout with expectations, a  sequenced timeline. You would not believe how often students come to me asking for help on these long term assignments but are unable to clearly explain what they have to do.

I try to put myself in the students shoes.  There are things that I am just learning - such as a new computer procedure - where I really need to have steps written down and everything explained.  Another situation where I see this need in myself is when I am consulting with medical doctors.  In both cases, the experts often talk too fast for me and I can't retain everything.  Fortunately, I can ask them to repeat, ask for clarification, and even ask for written instructions.  Our students don't yet have the self-advocacy skills to do this, and sometimes don't have the opportunities either.  So we - the education expert - must provide this for them.

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