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Positive, Provisional, Specific and Quality – Coaching Tools

Closing the Audience Centered Feedback Loop

Helping your peers to become better interpreters takes commitment and a caring relationship. When you help coach your peers, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the quality of the interpretation that we all offer the public.

The hallmark of good coaching is practicing positive critical assessment. This sort of assessment has four main elements:

  • Look For the Positive: Focus on what is there, not what is missing. Focus on the elements of what makes the interpretive product effective and what the presentation includes, not what is missing. This keeps the interaction positive and forward-thinking. All interpretive efforts have potential elements of success upon which to build.
  • Be Provisional, Not Directive: Use phrases like “Consider trying…,” “What do you think would happen if…,” or “That idea might be even more powerful if….” Your fellow interpreter knows the intent of their product better than anyone else. Using provisional language honors that creative autonomy. Provisional suggestions can help strengthen a particular component of an interpretive effort, while allowing the interpreter’s personal communication style to remain intact.
  • Make Specific Suggestions: Focusing on specific moments and elements of an interpretive experience can help your peers to understand exactly why they succeeded, or where there is room for improvement. Rather than offer feedback like, “The whole program was great,” an effective peer coach identifies the specific elements and actions on the interpreter’s part which helped make it a great program.
  • Focus on Quality of Feedback over Quantity: Every interpreter, regardless of skill level or mastery, has room to improve. An excellent peer coach focuses on the few places where improvement and adjustment could have the greatest benefit, rather than analyzing every single element of an experience. Incremental changes are far easier to make than revising an entire experience from the ground up.

Even the best coaches need to stop and remind themselves often that feedback is meant to help, not hinder. The focus is always on helping our peers to become better practitioners and magnify the excellence they already offer to visitors.

Additional Readings

Looking For More on Audience Centered Experiences?

Audience Centered Experience Button - Two Pictogram Visitors talking to a pictogram rangerYou can find much more self-guided learning and all of the materials for making yourself an ACE in the Audience Centered Experience Interpretation workbook.

Interpretive Leadership button - a pictogram ranger leading a group of other rangers higherYou can find links to seasonal lesson plans which support this emerging skill set in the Audience Centered Experience Trainers’ Guide.

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