“Don’t ever say “Are there any questions?” because there WILL be! Make sure the students are looking at you when you say the “once” speech and at times that you are giving instructions. Once students realize that you will not be repeating yourself and only smiling back at them, they manage just fine. I promise you; you will never regret the decision to use ‘ONCE.’”
I tend to agree with Kim that students don’t pay attention and it is a bad habit we need to break. But I feel we need to teach them skills to break this bad habit.
I disagree with her about this “once” technique to get students to follow directions. Many of my students have trouble processing what they hear and they may still be thinking about the first direction while the teacher is now talking about step number ten. Of course, this student will have questions and now be afraid to ask them. Even if my students are looking at the teacher, they may not be processing what is being said. Many of my students get to a point where they are so lost just hearing the directions that they get distracted. If they feel the teacher has given up on them, they will give up on even trying.
I think the key is to have these directions available in different ways. For my students, I try to think about the process of everything we do and write out the steps. I know this takes longer in my lesson plans but it really helps my students succeed and takes a lot of stress out of the lesson right from the start. Everyone is given a written copy of the directions and I also read over the directions. I ask students to repeat the directions back to me. I also encourage them to ask me questions if they get to a road block and can’t figure out what to do next. After giving them the directions, I then model what is expected of them so they can see me going through the steps to complete the task.
By giving those written directions. auditory directions, as well as modeling, they are able to focus better on what needs to be done. By having the students repeat the steps also help them process the directions. Then by alleviating their stress by letting them know that I am there to help them, they are able to relax more to process what is being expected of them.
If a student is not focusing on instructions, that student needs to be redirected. If this student has this problem often, then I will meet with the student privately. At this point, I will ask the student if there is a problem with focusing on the directions and how can I help them focus better. There may be something I’m not doing that could help the student. I also explain how disrupting their behavior can be to others and hinders their learning. I have found this one on one interaction sometimes reveals a situation at home or at school that I was not aware of and is bothering the student and is distracting. By showing I care, this student usually makes a better effort at paying attention to the instructions at the beginning of the lesson. I also don’t find myself doing this too often, because I have taken preventative steps during my planning.
When my students go to general ed classes, some teachers just give auditory directions and do not repeat the directions or allow questions. When this happens, many of my students shut down or act up. This is frustrating for the teacher, the other students in the class, and even for my student (who really does want to succeed but feels it is impossible).
What do you do to get your students pay attention to directions? Please share.
Original image: 'one is the loneliest number'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/97831130@N00/2179047732 by: Jeff Meyer