“In schools we spend a lot of time defining the behavior we want by the negative: ‘Don’t get distracted.’ ‘Stop fooling around.’ These commands are vague, inefficient, and unclear. They force students to guess what you want them to do.”
KEY IDEA: Give directions to students in a way that provides clear and useful guidance – enough of it to allow any student who wanted to do as asked to do so easily.
Directions should be:
- Specific – describes manageable and precisely described actions that students can take.
- Concrete – clear, actionable tasks that students know how to do.
- Sequential – a sequence of concrete specific actions.
- Observable – things the teacher can plainly see students do.
Most important part of What to Do: being able to distinguish between incompetence and defiance.
“What to Do allows you to distinguish between incompetence and defiance by making your commands specific enough that they can’t be deliberately misinterpreted and helpful enough that they explain away any gray areas.”
When students fail to follow a direction and you know the cause is incompetence , revise the initial directions by breaking it down into even more specific steps.
From Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemove (Jossey Bass, 2010)