A Simple Feedback Technique in 3 steps to Self Direct Meaningful Learning 

How Effective Self Feedback Turns Your WorkLife Story Into a Work of Art 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

A Case Study: How I took an invaluable lesson in feedback practice from an acting class and adapted it to help people self direct meaningful learning in their WorkLife to turn their continuous story into a work of art.

Actors in training receive more feedback than most other people do in their entire WorkLife. That’s a fact. And it doesn’t stop there. Their training enables them to build a finely-tuned self-feedback muscle from the powers of self-awareness and observation. This helps them to take on a character by understanding their persona in helping to tell their story truthfully. This practice also allows them to know in the moment, or soon after, how an audition, rehearsal or performance went.

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Some years ago, I did a Saturday afternoon acting class called Actors Studio. It was a class that attracted both actors in training on their path to launching their WorkLife as performing artists and experienced actors who had already made their debut treading the boards on Westend stages, in film and on tv — including an actor from Games Of Thrones! (To namedrop, just one of the people I met — without fully namedropping!).

The actors in training wanted to develop their toolbox of skills and techniques to support them in launching their acting WorkLife. The seasoned actors wanted to hone their skills and techniques in-between jobs.

I was neither an actor in training nor a seasoned actor. I qualified for the class because I had completed a year-long Foundation In Drama course. A one-day-a-week class that differed in nature from other part-time acting classes I’d attended because it demanded that everyone turned up every week, on time, fully prepared. Other classes were more relaxed on those fronts. Not because the school didn’t want people to take the classes seriously. But because they were part-time classes, open to the general public, who did them outside of their work and other life commitments. The teachers understood and worked with this.

As its name suggests, the Foundation in Drama course sets the foundation of what is required and expected from anyone who is thinking of pursuing a WorkLife in performing arts. Having taken this class was important because it demonstrated I had the commitment needed to participate in the Actors Studio class.

Now, here’s the thing, I had never wanted to follow a WorkLife in acting. I began taking acting classes in the hope that they would help me overcome my nervousness when speaking in public and delivering learning programmes in my role as a WorkLife learning practitioner. The part-time classes helped, but my fear was so crippling that I needed more time, and I needed to be pushed even more to take me out of my comfort zone. The Foundation In Drama course gave me all that because, week on week, I was expected to show vulnerability in my work. Achieving this demanded tapping into my most deepest feelings and emotions. It was hard-going for sure, but together with my fellow classmates and teachers, we created a safe, supportive environment for each other to be at our most vulnerable.

I got so much from that class over and beyond, overcoming my extreme nervousness when speaking in public and delivering learning programmes. Although I knew I didn’t want to follow a WorkLife in acting, I also knew I did want to continue to learn, grow and develop through the skills and techniques I would gain in the Actors Studio class, in the same way the actors in training and experienced actors did. Their skills level was so much higher than mine, and the wonderful thing about that class was how generous everyone was in supporting the learning, growth and development of each other. Many of the experienced actors were alumni of the school, and I think it was their way of giving back to the school and the teachers who had helped them get onto their WorkLife path and in giving forward to the actors in training, ahead of them getting onto their chosen path.

Depending on the school year, each term ran for ten to twelve weeks, during which we worked on three or four very different performances from modern-day and contemporary to the classics, from Miller to Chekov to Shakespeare to Greek Tragedy. This included solo performances, two-handers, three-handers and bigger ensemble pieces. We would spend two to three weeks rehearsing each piece, and then the following week, we performed our pieces to our audience of fellow classmates.

Our performances were filmed and played back at the end of the class. We were each required to give feedback on our own performance, then we each got feedback from the person sitting to our right, and finally, we got feedback from the teacher.

Each piece of feedback began with something we liked about our performance, that we thought was good, that we’d like to keep. Then one thing that could be better that we’d like to improve upon. And finally, one thing we didn’t like, that we’d like to let go of or change in some way. So, we each came away with three pieces of feedback for what was good that we’d like to keep. For what could be better that we’d like to improve upon. And for what we didn’t like, that we wanted to let go of or change in some way.

I really liked this Feedback practice. It became yet another technique that I drew from the skills and experience I gained in the acting classes I did, which I went on to use in my work as a WorkLife learning practitioner.

But I wanted to adapt it to a technique that would allow people to give themselves self-feedback (myself included). Of course, there wouldn’t be a camera on hand to capture teaching/learning moments, or a classmate or teacher, or necessarily a colleague or boss, for that matter.

That’s OK because I’m a firm believer in being self-reliant. 

I believe that we all have the knowledge and wisdom – the resources we need, within us to be our own best champions and best critics in being self-reliant in self directing meaningful learning.

I also believe we all have the ability to fine-tune our potential to be more self-aware and observant – the superpowers we need to be self-reliant in self directing meaningful learning.

Self-awareness and observation are simple yet profound and powerful strategies to help you develop and fine-tune your self-feedback muscle. A practice that will allow you to know in the moment or soon after how you did in WorkLife situations. You may not have auditions, rehearsals and performances as actors do. But it’s likely you’ll have interviews, presentations, and talks, and many other situations that you’ll want to reflect upon and evaluate to enable you to know what you liked and thought was good, that you’d like to keep, what could have been better, that you’d like to improve upon, and what you didn’t like, that you want to let go of, or change in some way.

The following assignment is designed to allow you to develop and fine-tune your self-feedback muscle to be your own best champion and critic in your WorkLife learning, development and growth.

A Simple Feedback Technique in 3 steps to Self Direct Meaningful Learning Assignment

Step 1. Re-Wind/Re-Play Your Day: Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

A Day in The Life of … Drumroll … You!

To develop your power of self-awareness and observation, begin by taking something that happened in your day. I like to suggest a two-minute event, but it can be shorter or longer. It could be a brief interaction you had in a coffee shop or in a meeting. It could be something you observed as you went about your day without interacting with anyone. It could be a moment when you were at home alone doing something.

Now replay that in your mind. The idea is to observe yourself when you were in that moment, along with being self-aware of everything else that was going on around you.

Simple? — Yes! The power of self-awareness and observation really is that simple.

Step 2: Developing Your Power of Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

The power of self-awareness and observation becomes more and more powerful the more self-aware and observant you become as you go about your daily WorkLife.

Find something to capture every day. Working with Step 1, begin with one-moment building to many moments.

Maybe there will be days when you think there is nothing that demands my powers of self-awareness and observation, because they are very normal days. But actually, normal days are great days because they force you to be a little more mindful, a little more aware, and a little more creative.

Step 3: Building Your Power of Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

At the end of your day, consider your most important moment/s that you want to give yourself self-feedback on, that will help your WorkLife learning, development and growth. 

Work with Steps 1 and 2 to take yourself back into the moment/s.

Then ask yourself:

  • What did I like and think was good, that I’d like to keep?
  • What could have been better, that I’d like to improve upon?
  • What did I not like, that I want to let go of, or change in some way?

Write down your response, and then let it go.

I like to suggest the practice of journaling by way of reflecting on these questions.

Then the following day, sit down and journal on anything further that has come to you through self-feedback in response to the questions you asked yourself. Anything that comes up through your stream of consciousness. Self-expression in your journal will help you to tap into your powers of self-awareness and observation, to fine-tune your self-feedback muscle, and, ultimately, to turn your WorkLife story into a work of art.

A Side Note

  1. This is a variation of a technique that a couple of actors shared with me when they described how they got into character for the roles they were playing. They said reliving moments of their character’s day through self-awareness and observation enabled them to understand their persona in helping to tell their story truthfully. You can use the technique to tell your WorkLife story and turn it into a work of art in the same way the actors did in telling the story of their character.

This story and assignment have been adapted from my books: Your WorkLife Your WayHow To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness and How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

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Postscript

This story was originally published on 3/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Be Autonomous in Your Development and Growth 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively 

How To Be Creative in Your Thinking 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.