The teacher's interventions and communications
Failure and success: the teacher's feedback

One of the teacher's essential functions is to represent a source of feed back on the pupil's activity. Whether the action is successful or missed this information is in relationship with the pupil's experience to progress in his learning.

On this subject, let us make several points:

  • Hit or miss?

    An action is rarely totally a success or a failure. The conclusions to be drawn should therefore be balanced and underline both positive and negative aspects. In the same manner no-one passes from 100% failure to 100% success. Efficient answeres appear rarely at first, then more frequently. The event of a good response even rare is significant.

  • Failure or errror?

    Insisting in failure of an action doesn't add much if we don't enhance it with an analysis of the causes of the failure. We do this in a manner that resonates with the pupil's experience (what he felt and understood during the action). In a manner that he can eventually own. Later, he will make this analysis on his own. The trial and error process form an integral part of the learning process.

  • Producing results or shapes?

    In the feedback given to the pupil about his action we will refer to the result to relate it to the strategies he used. This way, the gesture is only the visible manifestation of the technique but it is not the technique. The intervention about the gesture is linked to the goal, and the obtained result, the conditions, the efficiency principles which underlie the technique. This is why, if an action seems technically questionable but succeeds we will wait for a less lucky one to intervene.

  • The notion of flaw:

    the technical flaw refers generally to the shape of the gesture. Teachers fear, righly, that an automatic gesture sets in, which will be an obstacle to further learning. We could consider this as technical dadlocks. When analysing the action we notice that in most cases in volley-ball the "technical flaw" of a hit is a compensation for an erro at source on the rhythm of the action or the placement. We intervene then on this dimension of the hitting technique. If the "flaw" causes failure we refer to the result of the action to engager the correction. If efficiency is present the best thing to do change the conditions of the action and/or the opposition to invalidate this adaptation and improve the behaviour.

    See the resource on
    reaction times
  • "To be" or "To do"?

    Using the verb to be does not open to transformation and even locks the pupil in an image: "You are passive", "You are not concentrated", etc. Using verbs of action points to possible solutions: "You didn't watch the ball" or "What were you watching at that moment? What were you doing at that moment? What should you do after your reception?" etc.

  • Question or answer?

    Intervening through questions helps the pupil develop his autonomy, his ability to identify the nature of th probleme and to analyse and regulate his responses by himself. At different moments and according to what's at stake, we will judge of the opportunity to formulate the solution or to guide the pupil in the search for it.

  • Gaining time?

    The natural tendancy of the teacher eager to make the pupil progress and gain time, is to communicate on what can be improved and therefore on what has failed or is insufficient. Of course this is useful but we notice that this causes a high percentage of communication on a negative mode: "do not, stop, not enough, too much" etc. Operating a positive reinforcement of successful actions is not a waste of time. Ir encourages both memorisation of efficient solutions and motivation for pursuing the activity.

  • From speeches to individual words?

    L'expérience montre que plus la communication s'adresse à un groupe large, plus elle est décalée de l'action dans le temps, et moins elle est écoutée. This can look like a good idea to speak to a whole group to spread the information widely. in reality, feedback given to a pupil immediately after his own action within his immediate memory of it, has an immensely higher impact and a meaning than a deferred collective speech. Repeating the same remark as many times as there are pupils in an individual manner and in context is not a waste of time.

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