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Clear Instructions

05 Jun 2019

Read more about this strategy here.

"Children seemed armed with clear instructions to complete the task in hand."


My Context

I am a primary teacher at a foundation school in North Yorkshire, with an Ofsted rating of 2. We have 222 mixed pupils, 10.4% of which are on Free School Meals. 

What I wanted to improve

So far everything is going well but listening skills are not as good this year as the children last year. Pupils are tuning out and sometimes my instructions are a little bit wordy.


The strategy that I used was Clear Instructions by Chip and Dan Heath in Switch

What would success look like?

Success would be a significant decrease in the number of pupils asking what the task is, less instances of copying as they know what to do, and more work being done as well as productivity increasing.

How did I approach it?

I invested more time and effort on planning whole class teaching and ensuring concise, snappy teaching points and instructions. I also checked children understand my instructions through the use of Talk Partners. I also provided scaffolds for children who find following instructions difficult.

Resources and Cost Required

More time taken to plan in lots of detail, but less time needed to re-explain tasks.


Results and Conclusions

Success criteria

What changed and why?

Significant decrease in the number of pupils asking what the task is

Fewer children asked what the task in hand was. Those that did seemed to know already what to do and were probably asking out of routine or security. This was because children seemed armed with clear instructions and to complete the task in hand.

Less instances of copying as they will know what to do

Few instances of copying, if any. Children seemed able to complete the task in hard without the need for checking against peers.

More work being done. More productivity in lessons.

Increase in writing output, as children had more time to work in the lesson. Less time was wasted clarifying misconceptions. 

Overall Rating -

Would recommend. Worked to help the EAL pupils in my class and helped the others too.

Not sure how well it could transition to independence and would take a while. Need to tie it to the subject/verb so they can grasp the grammatical reason.

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