Our Approach to Teaching Snowsports
Our teaching is based around the individual students that we are with. This is not just based on a skiers level of ability. It’s about identifying which learning styles and communication methods their progression favours. What this means is that our teaching model is about understanding different phases and styles of learning. We adapt our teaching styles to get the most out of an individual person’s development. We also understand and adapt to people when they are in different stages of skill development. So our instructors are trained to find, recognise, and adapt to these attributes in people. Augmenting their teaching styles to better suit the needs of different people.
Of course we use standard manoevours, drills, and exercises, but in a prescriptive manner. Therefore we’re not asking people to copy a template. We are actually teaching the motor skills that make up our sport. So people know exactly what and how they are doing things on their skis. Consequently this enables people to continue practicing and developing long after a lesson ends. Join us for some Chamonix ski lessons, or Megeve ski lessons.
Typically an individual may think they favour one type of learning style. However most of us are a balance of two or even three learning styles. And sometimes it may be a surprise to find out it’s not what you may think. Each learning style has its own strengths and weaknesses. And by recognising them we can develop people’s skiing through skill development much more effectively.
Have a look to see which learning styles you think you might favour. Remember that a person is often a mix of two or three learning styles.
Activists are those people who learn by just having a go at something. Activists need to get going and dive in with both feet first. They have an open-minded approach to learning. Involving themselves fully in new experiences and without bias.
These learners like to understand the theory behind the actions. They need models, concepts and facts in order to engage in the learning process. There is a preference to analyse and synthesise, drawing new information into a systematic and logical ‘theory’.
These people need to be able to see how to put the learning into practice in the real world. Abstract concepts and games are of limited use unless they can see a way to put the ideas into action. They can be the experimenters, trying out new ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work.
These people learn by observing and thinking about what happened. They may avoid leaping in and prefer to watch from the sidelines. They prefer to stand back and view experiences from a number of different perspectives. Collecting information and taking the time to work towards an appropriate conclusion.
There are more than I will list here, but it’s more to give an idea of some that we regularly use in our Chamonix private ski lessons, and Chamonix group ski lessons. And we explain how they lend towards the various stages of skill development and learning styles.
Description – Students perform a specific set of outcomes. The teacher makes all of the decisions and feedback throughout the activity/session.
When used – This teaching style will be used when a specific set of outcomes is needed. Be that for safety, class management, or clarity where prior knowledge or understanding is limited.
Strength – Quick and efficient way to get through a certain task.
Weakness – All of the students will be performing a task at the same proficiency level.
Description – The teacher sets a specific task where the students decide on some of the variables. Such as volume, location, timing, tempo, pace, and interval. Establishing feedback will have a responsibility upon the learner. Who will be able to initiate specific questioning for clarification of performance. The teacher then delivers specific and individual feedback.
When used – Generally used when students understand, and are able to perform a task. However their performance is at various levels within an associative phase.
Reason for using this style – This style can help to expedite the associative phase of skill acquisition developing more precision and accuracy.
Strength – One strength of this style of teaching is that it allows students to work at their own pace and proficiency level.
Weakness – Students must have developed an understanding of, and be able to use the skill being practiced. As such will have passed through the cognitive (awareness) phase.
Description – A pair of students are given a task and one is designated as the performer. While the other is the observer and will provide constructive feedback to a specific set of criteria. The teacher is responsible for observing performances, and is able to monitor and augment the observer’s feedback where needed. This style is good for both doer and observer, while the doer is receiving feedback, the observer is learning through observation. These roles will then alternate.
When used – This style is used when it is useful to receive immediate and simple feedback through peer interaction.
Reason for using this style – This style can help to expedite the process where performers have moved into an early associative phase. By gaining a deeper understanding in practice and observation of how to perform the task.
Strength – One of the strengths of the reciprocal style is that it allows for continuous feedback. Also, the students who are observing will be able to learn from watching and correcting their partner’s performance. Rapport within the group can also be enhanced.
Weakness – The feedback offered from one student to another may not always be accurate. Therefore the teacher must be able to quickly and effectively augment feedback to keep things effective.
Description – Students are given a task with clear parameters that can be used to detect successful or unsuccessful performances. The teacher is able to quickly answer assist in any questions or feedback to develop performances.
When used – This style will be used when the student has developed an understanding and gained basic proficiency in a skill. It will also be used when the skill can be broken down into subsequent parts.
Reason for using this style – It allows the students a chance to further evaluate their own performance and make adjustments themselves. Gaining a deeper understanding of their performance of a skill.
Strength – One of the strengths of this teaching style is that it helps students retain cues through self-diagnosis. Also the students will be more able to engage in effective independent practice.
Weakness – Students must have progressed through the cognitive (awareness) phase of developing the skill. Therefore will have a rough ability to perform the skill.
Description – Students are given a task with various levels of difficulty. The learners are then responsible for deciding the level of difficulty they will perform. And how fast they choose to progress through those levels.
When used – This style is used when there is a spread of ability levels among students. Or to give some responsibility to a student for their development.
Reason for using this style – It can accommodate and include many different proficiency levels of a skill within one group.
Strength – The strengths of the inclusion style is that it allows for maximum activity and improvement. Also the learner is allowed to make decisions and understand their skill level choices more closely.
Weakness – Students may not have the ability to properly assess their skill level. Peer pressure may also play a role in the student’s decision. Therefore judging too low or too high will be monitored by the teacher to ensure effectiveness.
Guided Discovery Style
Description – The teacher develops a series of logically designed tasks or questions to give to the students. The students work through the tasks and each conclusion or performance yields an answer or leads to the next. Eventually, the student comes to realise a predetermined concept. The teacher acknowledges when the concepts are discovered. Providing further scope for development and use of this discovered concept or skill.
When used – Used when students need to understand the rational behind choosing to use a particular skill over another. Or when it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of a certain skill.
Reason for using this style – This style is used because it is a quick and efficient way to get students motivated. Also, solving problems of one’s own according often allows students to make more sense out of a skill or concept.
Strength – It encourages the students to problem solve. Independent problem solving will more likely lead students to remember particular aspects of a skill or concept.
Weakness – Not all of the students may engage in the problem solving process. Therefore the teacher needs to be skilful in engaging the group. As well as setting up tasks, and using closed questioning.
Divergent Discovery Style
Description – The teacher develops a task, question, or problem for all the students to solve. The question has multiple responses and it is up to the students to discover the multiple solutions.
When used – This teaching style is used when there are an array of possibilities of a given task. For example where there are multiple tactics, lines, or blends of steering that can be used to tackle a situation. Each with strengths and weaknesses to be understood.
Reason for using this style – This style will be used because it involves designing different combinations of certain skills. Students can begin to discover the different strengths and weaknesses to each. Later students can be making more appropriate decisions and more refined use of the skills being developed.
Strength – The strength of this teaching style is that it gives the students confidence, motivation, and versatility.
Weakness – The weakness of this style of teaching is that the students will first require good understanding. And skilful guidance from the teacher to establish the scope of variety for the given skill(s). This process can also take a fair amount of time.
I hope that gives you more of an insight into what we do and how we teach skiing. See you on the mountain soon at our Chamonix ski school, St Gervais ski school, Megeve ski school.
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