The Indoor Teach

For all of us, that have, or are going through, the certification process in the NZSIA. The exam week can be a stressful time. Add to that some down days due to weather and the pressure can skyrocket.

As an instructor working on Mt Ruapehu for many years, I have witnessed firsthand many candidates (myself included) who practice lessons on snow all season only to find themselves presenting their lesson indoors come exam week.

The following aims to outline some ways to use the teaching model, that will help make presenting a sample lesson indoors less daunting, and hopefully more successful.

Firstly start with a lively, sound introduction, this will help set the scene for your lesson. Without the distraction of being on snow with gear, weather and other people interfering, it gives you the chance during your introduction to develop greater rapport with your students. Obviously a little creative license is required to introduce the terrain for the lesson, but this can be used to your advantage as well. For example “we will be learning to ski today on this private run with no other people. It’s the perfect pitch for what we will be doing and has a gentle run out at the bottom.” Now where in N.Z can we offer this to our clients? This sets you up for success and shows the examiners you know the best terrain for your lesson.

Skier Analysis is the first time you and your students will be “mock skiing” and yes more than likely you will feel pretty ridiculous. The addition of a big smile and animated actions will draw your students in and get them participating uninhibited in your lesson. Remember they will be feeling ridiculous too.

Negotiating goals will happen indoors the same as it would on snow.

Your lesson plan can be seen as easier inside than on snow. Where prioritising needs and forming a linear approach to your lesson should be the same, terrain selection is taken care of (perfect pitch, best snow conditions, easy run outs). When pacing your information it may feel like things are moving quite fast. However this is due to shorter runs (a hall is never as long as a ski run), and faster lifts (every ski run indoors has a high speed detachable with no queue). Don’t skimp on information, exercises or practice time, but be prepared for things to seem like they are moving faster. This is offset with a shorter overall lesson time (20-30min indoors while its 30-40min on snow).

When presenting information cover all V, A, K. This is where your acting skills will come to shine. Present things as you would if you were on snow. Clear explanations of the task at hand, describe a real feeling that you would get if you were skiing and give well presented demonstrations. For example if teaching a gliding wedge the demo is in front of your students, walk with your feet in a wedge. This may get a few chuckles but will engage your students to do the same and will provide you with the opportunity to give feedback.

The guided practice phase of your lesson gives you the opportunity to move your students down the ski run in different ways. Again doing this indoors can be easier. Students can be sent ahead of instructor or lap the lift without the fear of them stopping in the wrong place or getting lost all together. Remember to give relevant feedback at this stage as intrinsic feedback is harder to get inside.

When checking for understanding, observe what the students are doing and ask them open ended questions. By this time your students will be engrossed in your lesson and will come up with the relevant answers.

The summary of an indoor lesson is the same as it would be at the meeting area on snow. Highlight where they started, what they learned, giving key points to practice and show them the pathway to future improvement.

In conclusion an indoor teaching presentation in an exam shouldn’t be an unknown, stressful process. Remember to be animated and lively, your students will respond and get into the ‘act’. Follow the teaching model, it is the framework to a great lesson on or off snow. Orientate the slope it’s whatever you make it so make it perfect. Finally enjoy yourself, it will show. Finally know that when the storm passes you will be back up the mountain ripping fresh tracks.

Matt Britton

May 2011