Softball provided a really good vehicle to do this. The rules, strategies and tactics are relatively new to the students. This allowed more opportunities to give peers feedback on performance and decision making.
There is also a nice rhythm to the game, as you work through the innings. There is enough time between plays to consider and deliver quality feedback, without it becoming too slow. The rotation of batting and fielding allowed time for students to reflect on their last innings, then gives them another chance to implement changes to improve performance.
The lesson was differentiated by the quality of the feedback expected to be given, which was based on content, timing and purpose. My students became very good at judging what feedback was appropriate to certain players in certain contexts e.g. Knowing if a team mate needed feedback on technique (correction of), decision making or just needed some emotional support as they knew full well what they had done wrong. At other times it was a case of supporting and praising good play.
There were a few challenges that the students faced. One such challenge was the tone they used during their feedback following a mistake made by a team mate. The initial reaction to a team mate making a mistake was one of frustration, which often results in blame, which in turn can result in a conflict between team mates – clearly not going to help team performance. I asked students to re-programme their brain by thinking if they had made the mistake, what comments would help them and the team. Offering reassurance and advice on improvement slowly became the norm.
Another challenge presented itself during this process. By default, every student without exception used the term “unlucky” whilst trying to be sympathetic to other students. I soon banned the term unlucky, as it added no value to the recipient. It attributes poor play on a factor outside of the performers control. This could lead the recipient to think that the mistake was not their fault and/or that they can’t do anything to improve (other than hope for better luck next time).
Every time a student fell into the “unlucky” trap, I asked them what the reason was for the poor performance / outcome, what needed to change and how they could best inform their team mate to bring about change.
The following lesson, students were stopping themselves saying unlu… and in the cases that they forgot the ban and said “unlucky”, peers picked up on it by saying “not really luck thought is it? You have to give more specific feedback than that!”.
I am now really working hard to avoid the term, as the Year 10’s would have a field day if they heard me say it!