Teach Them to Remember

I have to admit there are times when I just don’t think I can say “without talking” or “please get started immediately” one more time without screaming.

We all know the importance of giving clear prompts and directions to students. In fact, I believe the ability to give clear instructions is one of the most important skills for a teacher to have.

But I have to admit there are times when I just don’t think I can say “without talking” or “please get started immediately” one more time without screaming. Why can’t our students remember how to do simple things like getting ready leave, especially since we do it every single day?

They’ve totally learned the routine, which is: Goof around until the teacher tells us to stop and reminds us what to do.

And how many times have I given “the lecture” outside my door after lunch? “Welcome back from lunch. When you get in the room, please go straight to your seat and begin reading silently.” Don’t they know by now?

Well, they do. They’ve totally learned the routine, which is: Goof around until the teacher tells us to stop and reminds us what to do.

One way to avoid this trap is to teach students to do the routine without being reminded. If I am using an incentive, I make sure they understand they will only get the incentive if they do the routine without me having to tell them how. If they seem to be forgetting, I sometimes say, “I wonder who is going to get (incentive) by remembering what to do without being reminded?”

If we expect our students to remember what to do, we also need to teach them how and when to remember it.

If we expect our students to remember what to do, we also need to teach them how and when to remember it. In other words, we need to teach them the trigger. We can’t expect students to do a routine without being reminded unless they know when to start.

In the lunch example, the students WERE following my routine. They were coming in and reading silently. It’s just that the trigger was me telling them to do it. After I trained them to remember it for themselves, the trigger was coming through the door after lunch.

They had been just as bored and frustrated hearing those phrases over and over as I had been saying them.

Side benefit: I actually had a few students thank me after I trained them to remember instead of waiting for me. They had been just as bored and frustrated hearing those phrases over and over as I had been saying them.

Have you successfully trained your students to be self-starters? How did you do it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or in an email.

And now, as always, go create a great day for yourself and your students!

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