Teach your class to be better listeners

Working as a key stage 1 teacher, I noticed that some children struggled to listen. It's not always being rude or misbehaving; they just didn't focus or take in the instructions given to them in one go. They may need to learn how to listen and follow instructions. They may just need some repetition and a chance to verbalise what they heard in order to retain that information.




Follow each other’s instructions

As a morning activity or a warm-up in PE, Children could work in pairs and take turns to give each other two, three, or four instructions. They say practice makes perfect and it is no different when learning to retain more information or follow a set of instructions.

For another activity, you could give one child a simple drawing and the other has to draw what they describe without seeing it. This is a great activity to encourage increased interactions and more varied vocabulary. "To the left of the sun, there are two clouds. There is a bluebird in between the clouds." Children love to see how similar their drawings are to their partners' when finished.

Simon says

It's a common game that we all know and love! I've found it great as a PE starter or even a little break during a lesson to refresh. They really have to listen to the instructions and make sure Simon said it!

Step by Step

Some children struggle to retain a lot of information. They may be able to focus on the first part "Go to your seat and get open your Maths book." Then, they aren't sure what happens next. You may have asked the class to leave a blank page or to check the last lesson's feedback. One way to support them independently getting on with the task is to have the instructions upon the board. This will help all of the class check they have done what is expected of them. You can also use this as a way to revisit features of instruction writing!



Repeat and repeat and repeat

When I started training, I thought I would give an instruction once and all of the class would just get on with it. I didn't realise (especially in younger classes) that by the time they get to their tables, those instructions were no longer with them. This seemed tenuous at first but it is really effective. I would say some instructions and simply ask, "hands up if you know what you need to do". This often gave a fairly clear idea if I needed to explain it again in a simpler way. If everyone's hands were up, I'd then ask a few children to tell me what they are going to do. Usually, it works best to ask a child who will eloquently explain what they all need to do. Then, ask the children who normally struggle with listening to what needs to be done. If they can't tell you, ask someone else and then ask the child again. If they can reiterate what they need to do, they are more likely to remember and get going!

Behaviour incentives and rewards

Dojos and housepoints are great, especially to focus younger children. The element of competition with themselves each day or week is enough to encourage better listening. Can they beat their dojos for listening from yesterday/last week? You may give stickers to those who followed your instructions quickly and quietly. Some classes have weekly certificates for the 'best listener' and other great attributes we should celebrate. This partly depends on your behaviour policy- however praise should always be given to those setting a good example!

Check out my TES shop for great lesson plans, ActivInspire flip charts, and worksheets.


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