Following Directions

When I’m in the classroom, I know my job is to teach the state standards and benchmarks.  It seems like most of my instruction is really following directions.  Is it really that important?  One of my standards for science is following simple directions to conduct an experiment.  I tried that today.  Every single child failed to follow the direction of “1 piece for each team.”  I gave the direction before the experiment, had them repeat the direction several times, and then sent them to work.  Nope.  Had to shut it down because kids were complaining that there weren’t enough materials–because they each had a piece!  When I tried again, they got 1 piece per team, but then didn’t know what to do because they didn’t read the very simple instruction page I had given each of them!

How about little things like “When we are in line, be behind the person in front of you, be quiet, and keep your hands by your sides.”?  While I don’t like the idea of little robots going down the halls, I do like that my students aren’t disrupting others and leave enough room in the hall for others to pass by.  But often, I’m the loudest one, with reminders or prompts.  Is it really important?

Put your name on your paper.  Put your finished work in the tray.  Use your bathroom break to go to the bathroom.  Stay in your space.  Trace the letters first.  Be quiet during a test.  Put your paper in your folder.  There are 1000 directions to follow every day, but for every direction above, at least 2 kids don’t follow it.  Is this something that should be pushed, or let go?  Do they really need to learn to follow directions closely in 2nd grade?  What do you think?  Leave a comment!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dad on April 9, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Life is comprised of following directions, directions are sometimes good for us, just ask Moses… he tried, and to this day people can’t seem to follow those 10 simple directions.
    Second grade is a little young to expect consistant compliance I think, but as long as they don’t act with agression, defiance or disrespect, what the heck…. They have a lot of time to learn yet and it isn’t your duty to deliver a “finished product” by the end of the school year…..


  2. Posted by Jodi on April 11, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I absolutely think they need to learn to follow directions! :o) For the rest of their lives, they will be expected/required to do so.

    I still remember an exercise a teacher once gave our class–I think everyone has had this one at some time or another. ANyway, #1 was “Put your name on your paper.” #2 Do not do any of the following directions in #3-10. Leave the paper blank with your name only. #3. Draw a red square on your paper. #4-10 gave various instructions that I can remember the whole class busily doing. Including me. :o) We were all so shocked when the teacher read #2 to us out loud. Oops!

    I have never forgotten that assignment, and I know I was in elementary school!

    Get the message across now while they are young and will remember it!! :o)
    Thanks for all your hard work! I know I couldn’t do your job and appreciate all the teachers who are giving so much!


    • I remember doing something like that, too! I keep thinking that 2nd grade is just as much about experiences as academics, and part of experience is learning life skills. I just wondered if I focused too much on it…Thanks for your thoughts!


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