Classroom Management Series: Part 4 {Listening and Following Directions}

Welcome back to Part 4! We're over halfway through the management series and I really hope you all are learning some new tips to take back with you to your classrooms! I apologize for missing my deadline for this post. I was not feeling well after lunch yesterday and so I went to bed early. 

The focus of this post is on getting kids to listen to you while you are talking so that they can follow directions when they begin working. This is one of the most frustrating things to experience as a teacher. I hate it when students ask me what to do when I literally JUST explained it. I know you all feel me on this...I have several things that I am going to share that I have done in my classroom that have been helpful. 

One of the best things to do at the beginning of the school year is to give students one of the trick quizzes. This is an excellent way to assess which of your students struggle with following directions! I like these from Halle Across the Hall. She offers two versions {one for lower and one for upper elementary.} 

You can grab these for FREE from her TPT store HERE.

One fun way that I love to teach students to listen to directions is through directed drawing. What kid doesn't love art!? Even if they aren't great at drawing, that's the beauty of this! All of them come out looking great...IF they follow directions that is. I usually give some speech about how everyone can be great artists and have masterpieces that look like {holds up completed drawing} and they all GASP. Buuuuut I tell them, you HAVE to listen and pay attention closely the whole time so you can make sure you don't miss a step while I am showing you exactly what to do. They all nod furiously and most of them are tuned in closely the WHOLE time. I love these from Amy Lemons on TPT!

Aren't these adorable!?! You can grab each one separately by clicking the images above.

One of my all time favorite ways to build active listening is through auditory listening activities. I have used these for years and students LOVE them! They don't even know they are honing their listening skills. You give students these coloring pages and tell them that they will have to listen VERY carefully to the directions you will give. They will only hear them one time. You will say things like put a circle around the apple. Color all of the stars blue. Put an x on all of the clouds. I love this resource from Fluttering Through First Grade because she offers two levels of the directions {a beginner and intermediate}. I always start the year with the beginner directions and we build up to the harder which is more two step. We also track the number of mistakes they make on a graph so students can see their listening skills improving.

You can grab SET 1 of her resource HERE! She does have 3 different sets and then a bundle of all 3. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Another thing I have found to be really helpful AND SIMPLE for students is to repeat the directions 2 times and then have the students repeat the directions to a partner. You can also have the students shout the directions out loud if it's something small. For example, If I said, after you are done working on your reading journal assignment, please read silently. What are you going to do when you are done with your assignment students? They would shout out read silently. 

I shared about the secret code strategy in Part 1, but it also works really well for helping students listen to your every word. You can read about Secret Code HERE.

The Five Finger game is another easy little trick that I learned about last year. For this game, you explain to students that they will have the opportunity to earn some chat time if they can listen quietly while you are teaching your mini lesson or giving directions. You hold up 5 fingers while you are talking. For every time a student talks, is not listening or paying attention, you put a finger down. If students lose no fingers, they earn 2 minutes of chat time. If they lose 1-2 fingers, they earn 1 minute. If they lose 3-4 fingers, they earn no chat time and have a class discussion. If they lose all 5 fingers, the students/class get a consequence. This is up to the teacher. This game is great because students start holding each other accountable for their behavior.

The last strategy I want to share is helpful for students who can never remember what you just said to do...You know which friend I'm talkin' about. You have 1 or 2 every year who ALWAYS ask you what to do RIGHT after you just explained it because they weren't listening...Insert eye roll. Well, this is something that I plan on doing this year! You just post some visual numbers with steps for students. You don't have to get that creative with it. You can even just type the directions up on the board if you have a smartboard. Here is a great example although I'm not sure exactly where the picture is from. Lucky to Be in First, maybe?? 

Anyway, I hope you were able to take away something from the post today! Let me know your favorite strategies for teaching kids to listen and follow directions!

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