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How Good are Your Instructions?

Effective instruction is paramount for a successful lesson.

It’s all very well planning a lesson, preparing all the resources and spending time making sure you have everything in place for a great lesson, but if our learners don’t understand what we want them to do and why, then more often than not, they won’t make the progress that we hope for them.

Likely, we can all say that we have led a lesson and thought all of our learners were clear on what they had to do and everything was running to plan, but actually, how many in the room were clear and had a thorough understanding of the lesson objectives?

What do you do to ensure that every learner is clear on the lesson objective and how they are going to achieve it?

There are a multitude of aspects that a teacher must take into consideration before, during and following a lesson. Initially, it is a good idea to inform yourself of the level of attainment your learners are at and if anyone has any particular learning needs. This will dictate how effectively you can deliver your instructions and what methods could be suitable.

Different learners process and learn in different ways – we must remember that.

A great place to start a lesson is with the objectives – let the students know what they will be learning in this lesson and why. It is important to ensure we give students a reason for learning otherwise they may think “what’s the point?”, and not put as much effort in as they possibly could.

Make sure you speak clearly, slowly and in a straightforward manner. Don’t over complicate it and explain in too much detail or your students will lose focus. Once you have ensured silence, and everyone is listening you could say, “Good morning, everyone. Today we will be learning the process of photosynthesis and what we need to understand for our test next week.”

Keep it short, concise, clear and simple.

It is also a good idea to have your objectives displayed either on the board or on a presentation slide. This way you have doubled your efforts at delivering your lesson objectives.

Following this you should immediately engage students in the first task of the lesson; it may involve reading some text. Slowly and clearly, instruct your students to turn to the specific page and how you are going to approach the reading; is it individual? Will students take turns?

Make sure you have planned this before-hand.

Also, let students know what they will have to do following the reading so it gives purpose to the task. For example, “once we have read this text there will be 5 questions to complete based on the content”.

Don’t give too many instructions at once; break it down into stages. Manageable tasks and a manageable set of instructions. Give students time checks and reminders so it keeps them focused and on task.

Imagine learning to drive a car; if the instructor gave every single instruction all at once, we would be overloaded and very confused. The same principle applies to our learners, whose brains are less developed than ours, so a large number of over-complicated instructions would be hard to work out and would likely result in the student losing focus.

Try to have visual prompts to back up the words you are saying, so when students glance around the room, they can see visual cues to help them remember what they should be doing.

Use clear, specific words. Imagine if you were listening to you – are you being clear? Could you say your instructions more slowly?

Effective delivery of instructions will lead to effective progress in your classroom.

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