Helping Kids Give Constructive Feedback
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
I believe it's my responsibility as a group leader to lay down some rules for any group at the outset. And to show by my own language and behaviour what I expect. I encourage all groups to give constructive feedback, to do so specifically and by focusing on a person's actions not the person themselves.
One simple but effective way to structure feedback is to give group members something to 'hang' it on. For some groups, this takes the form of a template or rubric with a written response. Others use oral feedback and an activity like Two Stars and a Wish. In the latter, explain to kids they must look for two things that were done well, (two stars) and one area for improvement (one wish).
Here's an example: Ben's group have just improvised a scene from Red Riding Hood. Tom comments: "I want to give a star to Milly's skipping through the forest, a star because what everyone said made me laugh and a wish to the whole group that they had made it longer." Katie comments: "I liked the way Ben acted like a girl when he was the Grandma. Everyone in the group spoke clearly. I think the story would be even better if they took the masks off so we could see their faces."
Parents can practise this with their kids when watching a movie, sharing a book, or even coaching sport teams. Teachers can establish it with quite young classes. It's crucial to model the behaviour ourselves, so kids can hear the vocabulary we choose and the body language and expressions we display. In effective parenting, we already know to give our kids encouragement and positive feedback on their achievements. Let's take it one step further and encourage our children to use constructive and positive feedback in their relationships with others.
I believe we need to model giving constructive feedback to others in our homes and classrooms. By showing kids the sort of language to use, and various ways to give feedback, we're encouraging the development of respectful, healthy relationships. If we help kids to be specific and focus first on the positive, we've taught them a valuable skill that will make them become invaluable group members and employees.