Welcome from Sallyann 0/2
Activity 2: Does practice really make perfect?
Goals of this Activity
- Youths get familiar with the concept of deliberate practice and the right way to practice in order to improve on a skill
- Youths mobilize through experimentation elements of deliberate practice over the next 30days in an attempt to build new habits
- Introduction to the concept of a mentor/coach and the value of feedback as a key principle in improving on something.
Instructions will be given as if you are teaching a classroom of typical GLF youths ages 9-12. However remember these same activities are given in our adult classes.
Tools needed: paper, pens and/or pencils
Introductory Line: Imagine you are all brand new cars that take the same route and come from your home to school every day. In the beginning you are all shiny and everything is new and working but what happens when you do not fill gas when your tank runs empty? What about if you do not change your oil once a year? What about if you get a flat tire and keep driving on it? And what if you did everything right but after a few years a new model of the same car like you came out that was faster with new and better features etc….would your car be worth the same or less? This same rule applies to your powers and passions. Not because you are good in maths today means you will always be good in math..in fact you will get worse in it if you do not keep improving it by using a technique called deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is not repeating something over and over and expecting to get better by simply repeating it. How many of you have tried doing something over and over but never improved that much? As you can see this does not work and will never make you an expert of anything. What deliberate practice requires is you focusing on improving something specific ( it could be one of your powers and passions or something you just want to get really good at), noting where you make mistakes ( having a coach/ mentor point out your mistakes to you helps a lot), getting feedback on how to do it differently so you can do better and keep adjusting until you get it right, mental representations of what the skill you are trying to perfect looks like when done right and challenging yourself over and over keeping a measure that you are in fact improving over time. One hour of focused deliberate practice per day is more effective and can make you improve on your power and passion vs. 10 hours over 5 days of mindlessly repeating something over and over making the same mistakes and never improving.
Have students write down one thing ( let them get super specific) they want to get better at practicing deliberate practice. So say I want to improve in math is not specific but saying I want to get better at fractions is specific. I was to be better at cricket is not specific but I want to bat better is specific.
Have students rate from 1-10 ( 1 being the lowest score they can give themselves) their performance currently on the specific thing they want to improve.
Have students draw a straight line across a blank page, label the page Deliberate Practice and below it have they state the specific goal they want to improve e.g. My goal is to improve my creative writing. On the left side of the line have them insert their current rating on this skill. On the right side of the paper have them increase the score rating by 2 points. So if the left side has a 2, the right side will have a 4. Below the line have them insert in 30 days (which should be the amt of time more or less of their next lesson with you). Now have them select someone in the classroom who has a power /performs the best at the thing they want to improve at. Encourage students to get the feedback and confirmation of two other students that the person they selected as the expert is indeed an expert and not just a friend. You may have the issue of only a few students being singled out as the experts on many things. Note it is unfair to them to coach more than 2 students . If this happens, choose only a few students to be coached by the expert students. If the coach student agrees (please let them know they are not obligated to say yes) they have to agree to meet with frequently in the next 30 days their mentees to share their techniques and also give them feedback on what they are doing wrong so they can improve. Both the coach and mentee must meet at least 2-3 times in the next 30 days and at the end of the 30 days, they will have to submit to explain to the class any problems they encountered, what feedback was given by the coach, what adjustments and practice was done by the mentee etc.
Suggestion: Explain to students who do not have a mentor that they can find mentors in adults, students in other classes, relatives and even set up their own self-directed learning experiments where they challenge themselves. Let them know their mentors advice will only work if the mentor is an actual expert on the thing they want to improve on and has superior techniques they can share. Give the example of asking their mom to help them in algebra when she does not know anything about math at all …. ask them if her advice would make them an expert in algebra? Also explain to them they can also find mentors on-line for free like taking courses on line at Khan’s Academy or watching videos on youtube etc. This is called self-directed learning.
Closing Line: Having a power and passion is not enough for you to become a great leader and expert. You must be constantly improving, learning, challenging yourself and measuring that you are in fact getting better. The only way to do this effectively is through deliberate practice. Remember focus on something specific you do not know and then keep trying different ways to improve and get better at it. Numbers do not lie so make sure and keep a check on yourself to make sure you are getting better every single day. This is the secret of all the great leaders…. it is not because they only had powers and passion but it is because they are constantly practicing deliberate practice!