Sometimes we have a tendency to forget. We forget how things really and truly are. We forget our audience and end up being disappointed with the results. When in reality, it's our fault.
I want to share with you today a moment where I realize how far I have come. How much I have improved over the years as a teacher. This week, I decided to resurrect an old assignment. It's probably been 6-8 years since I did it last (I know this because the last modified date was 2013). I'm surprised it even opened up on my computer.
I was reading it, cringing the entire time.
I had a HUGE paragraph as the instructions on the page. How stupid of me. For a two main reasons...
First. I forgot who I was teaching. 13-14 year old kids. They don't want to read paragraphs. In reality, non of us want to fuddle through an entire paragraph filled with detailed instructions. I'm sure the kids NEVER actually read it.
And I'm sure I was frustrated when they would ask me questions that were "hidden" in that paragraph. I'm sure I responded with... "Didn't you read the instructions?"
Second. It wasn't CLEAR. Yes, I had included all that they needed to do, but it read more like a blog post instead of getting right to the point. Kids need clear expectations on what to do. They are capable of doing great things, following directions, and being independent... if we, the adults, are crystal clear on what we are asking.
In the case of teaching middle school students... LESS IS MORE.
The last few years, I have almost lived by that phrase... I try to see how much can I tell my students in the fewest words possible. My directions on worksheets now consist of one sentence if that and bullets or steps if a larger project requires multiple steps.
And when you really sit down and think about it... we are the same way.
No adult wants to read three paragraphs of information to be told to do one thing. Why would we think kids want to? We are who we teach.
Less is more people.
Try it out. Cut your directions down to the exact NEED TO KNOWS and I bet you get just as good or better results.
Be clear. Be short. Don't ramble.