Giving and receiving feedback are skills that require practice. Students may worry that they will offend their classmates or hurt their feelings while giving feedback. It also takes practice for students to provide useful feedback, rather than simply stating whether or not they liked what they saw. When they receive feedback, students may misinterpret it or internalize it and think they are being criticized. Or he might take it personally, rather than see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
In this exercise, students will practice giving and receiving feedback with their classmates and will explore the minutes in writing. It is helpful for theater teachers to know how they prefer students to receive feedback so that they can help them learn and develop using their preferred methods when possible.
Work before exercise: Review us Effective peer-to-peer feedback article and ask students to determine what is and is not effective peer feedback. Depending on the needs and personalities of your students, you may also want to take the steps outlined in our article, How to deal with students who can’t handle feedback.
1. Divide the students into pairs. Then each pair joins another pair to create a group of four. Ask students to decide which pair will be Pair A and Pair B. Pair A will be the first performers, and Pair B will be the first to provide feedback.
2. Pair A will have ten minutes to prepare a short scene – an improvisation, a mime scene, a painting scene or a short scene (this can be with the script in hand). They will perform the scene for pair B.
3. Pair B will come up with two pieces of performance feedback and write each piece on a separate piece of paper.
4. Pair B will provide verbal feedback to Pair A.
5. Pair B will then provide Pair A with the other piece of feedback written on paper. Pair B will then move away from Pair A and have ten minutes to prepare their own scene, while Pair A reads their feedback.
6. Repeat the exercise, with Pair B performing and Pair A giving verbal and written feedback.
7. Ask students to reflect on the following questions (individually, in groups of four or as a whole class):
- Do students prefer to receive verbal or written feedback? Why?
- Do students prefer to provide verbal or written feedback?
- What are the pros and cons of providing verbal feedback?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of providing written feedback?
- Do you think it is better to give verbal or written feedback in class? Rehearsing for a show? Why?
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She writes on the blog at www.kerryhishon.com.
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