At the end of all MoF sessions the children should be brought together for a short de-brief of the learning that has taken place. This de-brief will typically last one to three minutes. The purpose and content should be one or more of the following:

  • Summarise the progress made on the Problem Statement, including what key input and discovery the children have made.
  • Describe and revise the key learning which the children will need to remember for the next session
  • Leave the children with a question, dilemma or problem to think about which is related to the session or problem statement
  • Bring together parents of the children so they can be included and updated on the session, and provide them with brief feedback on how the group are doing
  • Give homework

The purpose of the end-of-session de-brief is not necessarily to give feedback to children. A better time to give feedback may be during the session itself, as this provides time in the session after the feedback is given for the child to act on the feedback and try to improve.

The de-brief should be contained within the session time period. Coaches need to finish the de-brief in time for the next session to use the space.

Including parents

Wherever possible, the Lead Coach should invite the parents to join the end-of-session de-brief. So it helps if the de-brief is done in-front of the area where the parents are sitting. The children can be asked to go and get their parent(s) and bring them over. 

It is important that parents are involved in the programme and in the children's progress. Just by listening to the de-brief, parents can get a better understanding of what we are working on and what we are achieving. It is helpful for the coach to address the parents sometimes, and tell them some of the challenges the children are having or what problems are currently being explored. This may help the parents to reinforce learning in other football learning or programmes that the children take part in outside MoF.

When giving homework, make sure that parents are present, and that they understand the homework task. They can then help make sure that children are given time and support to do the homework.

Formats and ideas

Typically the end-of-session de-brief takes the form of a Q&A, with the coach asking the children about what they did today and what the key learning points were. This is acceptable as a form of revision, but there may be better ways of reviewing the session: 

  • Pair the children up and ask each pair to come up with something they tried in the session that worked well.
  • Pair the children up and ask each pair to agree on what the main learning point from the session was.
  • Pair the children up and ask each pair to describe something they found difficult and how they dealt with it.
  • Pair the children up and ask each pair to discuss the one thing they are most confused about or don't know about.

Then get an answer from two or three different pairs.

Many coaches will use the question "What did you learn today?" in the de-brief. This may not be a particularly logical or sensible question to ask, given what we know about learning. If we agree that learning takes place over the course of long time periods; is non-linear; mysterious; and usually invisible, then how do we expect children to learn something in a one-hour session? This question may be better framed as:

  • What did you try to do differently today?
  • What did you see someone else do that you thought was clever?

Another idea is to ask one or two of the children to run the de-brief. This could be interesting, although care needs to be taken about how long this takes, as it eats into non-Active Learning Time. It could be good to ask one or two children to the front to explain to everyone else what the session was about and what progress the group made.

Coaches do not have to ask questions in the de-brief. It is sometimes acceptable to summarise the key points quickly and dismiss the group. The coach will need to use their judgement on how much revision of the session is necessary.

Wrapping things up nicely...

Learning and progress do not happen in bite-sized, one-hour chunks. It is not expected that Problems will be solved precisely in the one-hour session. The idea of the de-brief being a description of all the answers the children have come up with is a nice one, but is not usually relevant. Learning is difficult, and this needs to be recognised. It may be more relevant to talk about the challenges and difficulties the children have faced and how they have tried to deal with them.

Sending the children home having done a lovely de-brief of all the things they have "learned" may feel nice and rewarding, but it is not actually what has happened. It also implies that the learning has finished, when in fact the child may do a lot of important thinking about the session over the next week. The coach can stimulate this thinking with cleverly worded questions which they leave unanswered for the children to think about.

It's OK for children to leave the session with more questions than answers. In fact it may be a very good thing.

Giving homework

Give homework in-front of parents, so that they can reinforce the homework message, and provide time and support for the children to do the homework in the week.  If the homework is a technical ball mastery exercise, then make sure this is demonstrated so all can see it. Go over one or two of the key points. 

Remember: If you give homework one week, make sure you check up on progress the following week.

Finally, please read the following article on Reflective Thinking:

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Mark Carter

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