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Seeking leadership opportunities in Developmental Stage 3

This is an excerpt from Using Physical Activity and Sport to Teach Personal and Social Responsibility by Doris Watson & Brian Clocksin.

Developmental Stage 3

Transitioning students to developmental stage 3 within the confines of physical education settings can be difficult. At this stage students should routinely demonstrate behaviors consistent with Levels I to III and actively seek out leadership opportunities. These opportunities for caring and leadership take center stage during developmental stage 3. Caring and leadership can manifest themselves during all aspects of the lesson as students explore ways to engage in the learning process.

Relationship Time

Relationship time during the third developmental stage should be almost entirely run by students. Student leaders can be responsible for setup, instruction, and facilitation of the relationship time tasks. For example, many teachers use a warm-up routine that is performed throughout the year. Consider allowing students to lead, or even better create, the warm-up or other relationship time activities.

The Create-a-Game activity meets the objectives of relationship time by providing opportunities for students to interact with each other constructively; it also meets the developmental stage 3 needs by providing opportunities for students to be self-directed and to develop leadership skills.

Awareness Talk

Student leaders should be comfortable with identifying the theme, guiding the questioning, and drawing connections to the lesson by the time they reach the third developmental stage. Commonly used themes during developmental stage 3 include self-direction, leadership, and transfer. To illustrate a developmental stage 3 awareness talk, let's consider Create-a-Game (Model in Action 11.6).

In speaking for the Create-a-Game activity, the student leaders would generalize the lessons learned from the activity to the theme and subsequent activities. These are examples of statements and questions they might offer:

  • “I liked how my group talked through each step and offered game ideas. How did your group decide on the game you would create?”
  • “In our group we selected our five pieces of equipment first and then tried to come up with a unique game that used the equipment. How did other groups decide where to begin?”

In speaking for the experience, the student leaders can generalize what occurred in the activity. Nonverbal behavior on the part of the teacher can be really be important here. Remain involved by demonstrating active listening, nodding your head, and making eye contact with whoever is speaking. This models to the students behaviors that they too can maintain in the process.

Lesson Focus

Developmental stage 3 activities should provide students with the opportunity for leadership experiences and encourage transfer to other aspects of the curriculum. The Two Up, Two Back activity (Model in Action 11.7), a volley drill, offers students opportunities to exhibit behaviors consistent with responsibility Levels I through IV.

Teaching strategies for developmental stage 3 include providing students with opportunities to emphasize previous levels but, more importantly, focus on Levels IV (caring and leadership) and V (outside the gymnasium). We can elicit these behaviors by modifying the way we present the task.

Table 11.3 presents considerations for teaching Two Up, Two Back through two different styles. You can use a command style, but this minimizes the opportunity for students to demonstrate developmental stage 3 behaviors. Instead, presenting the task through a divergent discovery style or a self-check style provides opportunities for self-directed learning and leadership.

Two Up, Two Back (Model in Action 11.7) provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate responsibility Levels I through IV. Using a guided discovery approach gives students a chance to collaboratively develop tactical awareness for the volley and passing shots. Self-checking enables them to self-assess in the context of group play. At this developmental stage, students have demonstrated the ability to work independently while putting forth effort and showing respect to their peers. At this point we hope you can begin to think of ways to modify the learning environment to promote leadership skills in your students. These skills can be carried over to the group meeting segment of the lesson, increasing the contribution of students to the learning process.

Divergent Discovery Style

Presenting Two Up, Two Back using a divergent discovery approach allows you to engage students in both the cognitive and psychomotor domains. Through questioning or the presentation of a problem, you can have students diverge on solutions for successfully completing the task. With this task you can allow groups of students to diverge on a solution that meets the task requirements.

Teacher: “Each group will play a modified doubles game. One team starts at the net and the other at the baseline. The team at the baseline begins play, and team locations switch after each point. The first two hits of each round should be easily returnable by the other team. Points can be scored only after two successful hits have been completed. Rotate service each point and play to 10 points.”

After each round of 10 points, have students reflect on the following questions:

  • How can you support your partner during a point (think about your movement and positioning on the court)?
  • What strategies did the volleying team use to score points?
  • What strategies did the baseline team use to score points?
  • How can we use one hit to set up our next shot?

Self-Check Style

Shifting to a self-check style provides additional opportunities for students to demonstrate self-direction and leadership behaviors. Create a task sheet that briefly describes the activity and provides learning cues. You can ask a group to demonstrate the activity drills and focus students on their task sheet. Once groups have read their sheets, they can begin the activity at their own pace.

Following each game (to 10 points), students recheck the criteria noted on the task sheet relative to their execution of the volley. Students are responsible for their own feedback based on the criteria for the given skill. The teacher's role is to ask questions related to the student's process of self-checking or self-assessing.

Group Meeting

As with the awareness talk, this portion of the lesson is mostly student led. You can assist by cueing students regarding the levels they are working on, as well as reminding them of what sorts of questions have been asked in previous classes. Questions about how the lesson was conducted, how the activity met the students' needs or provided challenge, and how the style of teaching engaged them are all examples of program-related discussion questions.

During the Two Up, Two Back activity, a student leader can initiate a group reflection on the lesson activities by asking questions like these:

  • “How did you support your partner during this drill?”
  • “What are other ways we support our doubles partner during tennis?”
  • “How can we use a shot to set up our partner for the next shot?”


We should expect students at this developmental stage to be able to pose higher-order questions during their reflections. Reflections should continue to serve as an opportunity for students to self-reflect on their actions and what they observed in others throughout the lesson while exploring ways they can transfer the responsibility attributes they are developing in physical education to life beyond the gym. This can be accomplished through a variety of formats in class or outside of class time. Students can read each other's journals and provide feedback, assist each other in goal setting, or create strategies to transfer the levels to environments outside of the program. Again, the teacher remains connected to the process as an active listener and support.

Learn more about Using Physical Activity and Sport to Teach Personal and Social Responsibility.

More Excerpts From Using Physical Activity and Sport to Teach Personal and Social Responsibility