Teachers Need Effective Directions

Have you ever had a class completely miss your instructions?  Did you think that your directions were clear to later find out that you confused the students more?  I know, this has happened to me and countless other educators out there.  This quickly made me reevaluate the ways in which I gave directions to my students during class.

A major piece of the fix was in creating criteria for my directions and ensuring that every time I asked my students to do something, these criteria, outlined in detail below, were met.


  1. Time Frame:  I needed to address my timing issue. If students are provided a time frame for the direction they understand when to start and stop a specific task. This can often be accomplished with the help of a digital timer or some other visual cue that will help students.  By having a set time frame in my spoken directions, it provides a sense of urgency for the students.  An example of this might be: “You will have two minutes to complete problem number three.” That is it super easy for teachers to implement.
  1. Clarity: Clear directions are what all educators try and strive for, but in reality can be hard.  What we envision as being clear could be so confusing that the students are confused.  Then we all know what happens next; we get bombarded with questions about our directions and many times it is the same question being asked in 10 different ways.  It is imperative to think about the directions and are they clear enough that they only need to be said just once.  If not, maybe chuck break the directions down into more simplistic terms.
  1. Short and Sweet: Finally, we all know of a teacher who likes to go on and on during class. This can be a huge turnoff to students as they will get lost if the directions are too long.  Think short and sweet.  Let’s think about it, do like to listen to long drawn out directions?  The answer is probably no, so then treat the students as if they were giving directions to you.  Maybe you need to break up items into more manageable tasks for students.

We think giving directions as being an easy task for educators to do when in fact it is more complex than we thought.  Regardless of what is planned next, teachers can ensure that all students will be prepared by employing effective directions.