Is it possible that as early childhood educators we are not doing a good job at giving children directions?
a reflection in 3 parts…
PART I: Jury duty.
Last week I had jury duty...
Carmen, the woman who told us how it was all gonna work, called our names, and corralled us into that giant oddly depressing room was AMAZING at giving directions. (Thankfully Carmen had a sense of humor and told us that we had to keep quiet about the cases while on active jury duty but later we could make a film about about them and she'd like to be played by Jennifer Lopez).
Carmen spoke to the lowest common denominator. She full on expected us to be playing on our phones, not fluent in English, new to jury duty, or not adequately caffeinated. Literally everything she said - which was mostly telling us what to do and not to do - she said at least twice. If it was especially complicated (multi-step directions) she said it 3 full times.
That time when she said respond to your name being called by calling out yes or no (to whether you could be on a 47-day case!?) and some guy responded with a suuuuuper long comment and question? She just calmly repeated the original directions 2 more times.
PART 2: Improv class.
As I told you I'm taking an improv class. One of the exercises we did this week was one person had to give the other person directions. Things like how to brush your teeth, put on a sock, or boil water for spaghetti. The other person had to follow along but could only do what was explicitly stated. I got stuck pretending to put on my right sock because my partner kept forgetting to say, "lift your foot" (you can't pull the sock up when your heel is touching the floor).
As I watched the first few pairs STRUGGLE to play this game I realized, "oh, wow...this is hard." And then, "we are NOT giving children clear and specific enough directions!!!"
Part 3: Yoga
My yoga teacher this morning told us at the end of class that she had just passed the "intern test" (I had no idea that was a thing). Ah! That explains it. There were a few times when half the class was facing one way and the rest of us in the other direction. It reminded me of when I used to do Bikram yoga and the class is literally exactly the same every single class and the dialogue is scripted. We always knew exactly where we were going and got there even on the super rare occasions when the teachers misspoke.
So, I give you not tips today.
I ask you to just notice.
How explicit are your directions? How many times do you repeat them? Do you stay calm when you have to repeat them multiple times? Are you calm and confident repeating for the upteenth time like our jury duty Jennifer Lopez wanna-be? Or, are you skimping on the specifics like our intern yoga teacher?
And, who in your class struggling to follow along?
Just notice. And please report your findings in the comments. below so we can all learn together....