Now and then students don't follow instructions. Like most of us, at one time or another, they just want to hurry up and get something done. So, they fly through the instructions on a homework assignment, quiz, test, or project. Unfortunately, the result is often work not done correctly. So, what does a teacher do?
When students have not been following instructions, I like to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to ALL the students about it. I begin a conversation with the class like this:
"Following instructions, let's talk about why it is important. Think for a minute and tell me why it would be important to learn to follow instructions."
Students begin to offer their responses:
Then I ask, "What if you are in college, and you circle answers on a test, even the right answers, but you were supposed to write them in. What do you think the professor might do?"
The students begin thinking about it. Some raise hands and say that maybe he or she would mark them wrong, showing a little angst on their faces that this could be true! And others offer other thoughts.
Then I might ask something like, "What if you were working as a nurse and reading a doctor's instructions about caring for a patient. Would it be ok to carelessly read those instructions? If not, why?"
And they begin raising hands again, offering responses.
The point is to get them to begin to understand that LEARNING to read and follow instructions carefully is important and a skill they need to develop because at times, if not carefully read can have consequences, for ourselves or others, that would not be desirable.
I adjust the "learning about reading and following instructions" conversations according to the age level of the students in my class so it is something they can relate to. As a teacher, I feel it is my job to not only teach students the academic subject, but also to help them build skills that will benefit them, and at times others, in their lives.
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