A big goal for every educator is to facilitate self-directed, independent learning and work completion. This is not only an important life skill that will serve students well throughout their scholastic careers and into their personal and professional lives, the truth of the matter is that instructor-student ratios do not offer the luxury of one-on-one instruction and thus educators must work diligently to teach students to listen attentively and follow directions in order to complete the task correctly.
Active listening plays a big role and it can be frustrating when you have to keep repeating yourself! Getting students to focus and listen - the first time - frees you up for more important things and is certainly a sanity-saver. Angela Watson, author and blogger at The Cornerstone, put together a great list of tips and tricks for helping students focus and absorb directions the first time around. You may already employ some of them, but new or practiced, they'll help you assess your procedures and determine where you can improve. We especially like her "magic word" suggestion as well as her recommendation for giving students a purpose/action to complete when following directions.
Be sure to visit The Cornerstone to find out more about these fun tips and to read the rest of Angela's suggestions!