Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do You Repeat, Repeat, Repeat Yourself?

Has this ever happened to you?
Teacher: Turn to page 31.
[As the last word falls from her mouth, she is interrupted by...]
Student: What page are we supposed to be on?


Teacher: Put your name in the upper right hand...
Student: Should we put our name on our paper?

Who is working harder in your classroom? You or your students? Think about directions. Who works harder? Do you work harder to explain (repeating yourself over and over and over) or do they work harder to listen?

If you are a classroom or homeschool teacher and find yourself repeating-repeating-repeating yourself, here's an idea that I'll call "Take 3: Ask 3 Before Me." The idea? After you've given a direction or answered a question, you do not repeat yourself until a student can prove that she has asked at least 3 other people for the information. It looks like this:

Teacher: Take out your math books.
Student: What are we supposed to be doing?
Teacher: Take 3. [Alternately, the teacher puts up 3 fingers or points to a visual cue on the wall and moves on.]

The student then finds 3 other people to ask. In order to return to the teacher with the same question, she must list the names of the 3 people she asked. Not surprisingly, this rarely happens!

A modified version can be very effective in the homeschool setting. "Take 3" means that the student sets the timer for 3 minutes, working at a task for mom (emptying dishwasher, folding laundry), all while trying to remember what the teacher said. At the end of the 3 minutes, if the child still doesn't remember, Mom is able to repeat a direction because the child has worked to replenish the energy that Mom will use to repeat herself.

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  1. Hi there, I really like your blog (it’s almost as good as chocolate) I need to comment on this post as the Edelman Trust Barometer and NLP state it takes 3 – 5 times for a person to be convinced of something please see post here

  2. Aw, thanks for the chocolate comment! :)
    I looked at the link and am not sure what it means to "be convinced of something" vs. to follow a simple direction (like put a name on a paper.) But I'm glad that I don't have to repeat myself 3-5 times for every direction given in a classroom! :) In my own teaching and parenting, I've noticed that kids can be taught to hear a direction once and respond...although some definitely need practice listening the first time. :) But with both options, it's a pretty simple trade off...ask 3 kids (which gives them the 3-5 times of repetition, if that's what the ETB means) or it gives them some close time with mom and some time to think about it before it's repeated again. Winning all around!
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

    1. As a side note, I think the example you provided on your blog entry is spot-on but quite different from a simple direction. If it's a matter of being convinced that a person is (or is not) good at something, it becomes more of a feeling/emotional issue.

      Again, thanks for the thoughts. :)


Thank you for leaving me a message. I love comments almost as much as I love chocolate! And I do LOVE chocolate. :)

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