Five ways to give students directives:
- Tell rather than ask. Don’t say, “Do you want to work on your project now?” if the message you are trying to send is, “It’s time to work on your project.”
- Be clear that you are giving a directive. Don’t add “OK” at the end of your directive. (“We’re going to work on projects now, OK?”) This turns your directive into a marshmallow question – soft, sticky and messy.
- Only ask a question, if you are prepared to accept whatever answer you get. If you ask your students “Do you want to work on projects this afternoon?” you are saying it’s OK if they do and OK if they don’t.
- If you mean “no,” say “no.” Don’t answer a request with “we’ll see” or “in a little while” and then never get around to doing the request. Don’t say “perhaps” if you know you are not going to do the request. Don’t answer a request with a question like “Will I be late for my next class?” or “Have you asked Sally?” Just say “no,” if you mean “no.”
- Correct students by telling them what not to do, why they shouldn’t do it, and what they should do instead.
Writing Prompts and Discussion Topics on the Subject of Giving Students Directives.
A teacher says to a student, “Do you want to work on your project now?” What would the student think? Pick A, B. or C below.
- He should get to work on his project.
- He has a choice to either work on his project or work on something else.
- It would be OK if he didn’t work on anything.
What about the teacher’s words made you select A, B, or C?
Re-write the teacher’s words three different ways. One way to clearly say A. One to clearly says B. One to clearly says C.
A teacher says to a student, “We’re going to work on projects now, OK?” What would the student think? Pick A or B below.
- He is being told to work on his project.
- He has a choice whether to work on his project or not.
What about the teacher’s words made you select A or B?
Re-write the teacher’s words two different ways. One way to clearly say A. One to clearly says B.
A student asks a teacher to allow her to hand in her project a day late. The teacher says, “Deadlines are important.”
- How do you think the student would interpret that answer?
- What about the teacher’s response will lead the student to that interpretation?
- Is there a better response the teacher could make? Why would it be better?
Read more about giving children directives at:
The Benefits of Art, Choices, and Discipline: Part II.
Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.
- For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
- Use the blog for discussion topics
- Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.
2. For all courses, especially English Language Arts:
- Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
- Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
- Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
- What would be your advice on this topic?
- What was left out of this article?
- If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
- Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
- Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
- The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
- Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
- Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.