I’d recommend that prior to giving your students’ directions you first get their undivided attention. I personally have used several different methods, but the one I’ve used most is raising my hand and/or ringing a bell–sometimes both. Then after sufficient wait time (about 5 seconds) I would begin giving the direction.
I always gave one direction at a time—this is very, very important. Let me give you an example. First, I‘d say boys and girls please get out your math book. Then I’d wait until all children had their math book on their desks. Next, I would say open to page whatever it was. Again, wait until all children have turned to the proper page. Next, I’d say work problems such and such. Now, you may thinking oh my gosh, this is going to take forever. I assure you that it won’t, and you’ll be surprised to see how much time you’ll actually save.
Instead of Johnny saying what book you want me to get out, and Sarah asking you what page do we go to, and Ron asking you what are the problems we are working on; you can eliminate all of that by just giving one direction at a time, and waiting until all of your students are right there with you. It works!
Then by all means check for understanding by having students turn to a partner and rephrase the directions, or having a student repeat the directions back to you. If you have a student who has difficulty following directions, then making eye-contact when giving the directions, and teacher proximity will greatly help.