Listening and following directions

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jen84, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Jen84

    Jen84 Companion

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    Sep 24, 2015

    I teach second grade and the majority of my class does not listen or follow directions. I will post exactly what they need to do (with pictures) on the board, but they will still ask me over and over again what they are supposed to do. Most will not start an assignment until I personally walk up to them and repeat the instructions. Last week I was sick. I told them in the morning that I would not be repeating directions that day so they needed to listen and look at the board. Of course they still asked me what they were supposed to do. When I told them to ask a friend, several of them had a complete meltdown. One was crying hysterically while another crumpled up his paper, pounded his fist on his desk, and screamed, "I don't know what to do!". I even had two on-task students repeat the directions to the class, but many STILL were not listening. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what I can do to help them improve their listening skills.
     
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  3. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Sep 24, 2015

    Consider: Michael Linsin (Smart Classroom Management) recommends checking students' posture before giving directions. Have students stand behind their desks and stretch with you leading - arms overhead, down and to sides several times. When they sit emphasize good posture with backs straight and feet flat on floor. Evidently students will tune in far better when they are sitting correctly versus slouched or turned.

    Also, consider having students copy your model of what to do - a visual instruction plan or VIP. Break it into steps with pic for each step. Then have students partner with person sitting next to them, one's and two's. Choose a reliable student to "teach you" after you teach him/her using the VIP as a guide one step at a time. Then have partners, ones teach the twos exactly like you did word for word for step 1 while pointing at their VIP. Then switch, twos teach the ones. Circulate while students are teaching partners. If you recognize any error(s) stop the class and reteach step 1 again using a volunteer and VIP word for word. Then, again, partners teach. Key is to break directions down into chunks with partners teaching one step at a time before going on to the next step. Avoid having partners teach a series of steps at one time.
     
  4. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    Sep 25, 2015

    Try this...

    Student: I don't know what to do.
    Teacher: I'll repeat the directions at recess. Perhaps you will be able to understand better then.
    Student: Never mind. I know what to do.


    Works every time!
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Sep 25, 2015

    A couple things: 1. Make sure they are listening when you speak. When you talk, it should be silent enough to hear a pin drop, you should see every single pair of eyes on you. If you don't see them, tell them individually that you need their eyes. Pencils should be put down so they are not writing while you are talking. Every single thing you can think of that demonstrates someone listening to you, require that of your students for the entirety of the time you are giving instructions. If a student starts looking away, stop instructions and redirect their attention to you.

    Then give them a start signal, when they can turn their attention from you. If they start writing or working before you give them that signal, stop them, and have them wait until that signal is given.

    2. Have procedures set in place like 1. Read Directions, 2. Ask a partner, 3. Raise your hand if you still don't understand.

    3. Let them have their meltdowns. Refuse to give them repeated instructions. They're so comfortable knowing they don't have to listen because you'll just come back around and tell them again, or if you don't they just have to pout to get their way. Let them fail. Eventually they'll realize, you'll say things only once (or twice if that's your policy) and you won't say them again, so if they want to succeed, they'd better be listening.

    You'll want so badly just to repeat the instructions, but if you want to do what's best for them, you shouldn't. Listening to others is a skill they'll always need in the future.
     
  6. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Sep 25, 2015

    I agree with the suggestions of making sure they are listening. With my class, I acknowledged to them they possibly could be breakdancing and still listening and comprehending every word I say... but I as the speaker don't know that. Have a body position they must be in when they are listening.

    I also agree to let them have their meltdowns and fail. They had a chance to hear the instructions (if you followed the wait till they are listening suggestion properly) and the meltdown is their consequence.

    I would also suggest that, after giving directions, have one or two students (and I recommend the ones infamous for not listening) repeat the instructions to the class. This admittedly is technically repeating instructions, but it's also putting a lot of responsibility on the kids and, hey, you get to say " Three different people told you what to do!" in the end.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 25, 2015

    I don't understand picture directions unless you have a lot of non readers. Truthfully, verbal directions should be enough if you are clear and starting with simple one step directions. Second graders are babies this time of year. Dial it back. Give simple, clear, one step directions. Kids are stressed because they really don't understand your expectations. Break it down one step at s time and run thru your directions one step and then next step. It will get better.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Sep 25, 2015

    There is some fabulous advice here already. I am going to try out several of the suggestions from this thread.

    One thing I do is have kids repeat back, either chorally or individually. Like this:

    Me: Open your book to page 24. What page?
    Them: 24.

    ---or---

    Me: You're going to open to page 35, read the story, and then answer the questions at the bottom of the page. What will you do, Jim?
    Jim (reliable listener): (repeats my directions)
    Me: What will you do, Joe?
    Joe (reliable listener): (repeats my directions)
    Me: What will you do, Kate?
    Kate (probably wasn't listening): now is able to repeat directions, since they've been given 3 times.


    I also write instructions on the board, and when they ask what to do, I just point to the board, and that's all. I say "go to your seat" while pointing if needed. They figure it out pretty quick.
     
  9. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Sep 25, 2015

    Do you know where I can find this? I've read a lot of his things but have never seen this tip.
     
  10. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Sep 25, 2015

    I'm on Linsin's email list and receive "tips". This one was titled Two Simple Strategies to Improve Listening (Jan 31) Not sure if this is in one of his books.
     
  11. Jen84

    Jen84 Companion

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    Sep 27, 2015

    Thank you all so much for your helpful responses. I have written your suggestions down and will start using them tomorrow.
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Sep 27, 2015

    "I don't know what to do" could mean multiple things. It could mean the child doesn't remember the instructions or didn't pay attention. It could mean the student can't put the instructions into application because he doesn't understand what he is supposed to do or something is confusing him and doesn't know how to put it into words. He could just not understand the work he is expected to do.

    Is it possible that different students are experiencing various problems. I know a student who struggled terrible on a simple assignment, knew the information, but just couldn't apply it on the hand-out. It turned out, the child made an assumption that the information to be written on the blank had to fill the entire blank so sat there trying to figure out what would fit and be correct.

    I say this because your problem may be more than just not listening. It may be several problems going on, especially if directions are being repeated and some still "don't know what to do".
     

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