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following instructions

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Tom_Bennett, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    I'm going to stick my neck out here and suggest that they need to receive some sanctions of a more meaningful magnitude than a reflective essay. Set your stall out clearly, about what you will expect from them in future, and exactly what will happen to them if they fail to follow instructions. If they don't complete the work as asked, and it's within their ability spectrum, then make them stay behind to finish it at the end of the day, in their lunch, etc.. You'll soon find they 'realise' the wisdom of following instructions pretty soon; I'll wager a sovereign on it.
    Of course reward the ones that do well, and show them some carrot as well as stick.
    Good luck
  2. You are DEFINETLY not alone and certainly, for some bizarre reason, some classes are just better at following directions than others. I thought your question was interesting....WHY are instructions important?? I believe that our job as a teacher is, fundamentally, to produce responsible world citizens. Sure, an instruction such as "Please write in complete sentences", is not integral to them becoming a world leader and creating world peace....however I always talk to my students at the beginning of the year about the procedures of the classroom (I use the term procedures which are different from "rules" - I can elaborate on that later) and I think this would fit nicely with explaining WHY instructions are important (and not just because "I SAID SO")
    I have many procedures for my classroom and very few rules. The difference is, procedures relate to academic success and the rules relate to behaviour. If a student does not do a procedure, they aren't punished, but they do end up making their own life more difficult. If a student does not follow a rule (such as talking rudely to the teacher or others) they are promptly punished (1st time verbal warning, 2nd time sent outside the classroom, if something happens from outside the classroom - sent to administration) I believe that your "instruction" dilemma relates more to academic success and therefore falls under procedures.
    So I explain to my class at the beginning of there (but also throughout the year)...procedures are things we do to make our lives easier, safer and smoother. For example, stopping at a stop light...Yes, there is a punishment if you run a stoplight but only if you're caught by the police. If you aren't caught, but end up running one and t-bone someone, you are still responsible and the crash is probably going to make your life LESS easy, LESS safe and certainly LESS smooth. You CAN run that light and get away with it, but eventually you are going to get hurt and hurt someone else and you are going to pay for it. Because of this, society has procedures that we follow and generally no one gets hurt, people's lives are easy and run smoothly.
    Perhaps a simpler example is the procedure for looking up a phone number. If you don't do it properly, you will not find what you are looking for. You aren't necessarily going to be punished but you are still not going to find that number. Follow the procedure (instruction)...open up the book, look up the last name, look up the first name and find the appropriate number!

    Bottom line, if they don't follow instructions they will do the task wrong and get a poor mark. Obviously, eventually this will be communicated to parents/caregivers and if that isn't motivation enough, they will then have to start thinking about what they want out of your class and their school. I have even gone so far to suggest to some students that if they aren't willing to try and follow procedures, they may seriously need to look at an alternative form of education. After all, you're here to help them, not be a nagging, yelling, dictator. Students always have a choice, and if they choose not to follow instructions, they are choosing a low mark.
  3. jthursty, thank you so much for your reply!! It hits the spot exactly. I hadn´t thought through the difference between rules and procedures before, now this gives me a whole new perspective. The analogy on the red light is also wonderful. You seem very wise on these concepts in the classroom and I appreciate your insights, if you could also see and comment on my thread on respected teachers versus giving sanctions, I would really appreciate it.
    Thank you again for taking the time to post. :)

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