The PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) presented an indoor lecture today on being learning focused in our lessons (vs. teaching focused).
Being learning focused involves considering the learning environment that is being created in the lesson. Six fundamental ideas can help this:
1: Collaborate on goals. What does the student want to learn in the short and long term? Be ready to adjust if objectives change throughout the lesson or day. Check in! Ask, don’t direct.
2: Manage information, activities, terrain, and pacing. Describe info accurately – for example, in skiing many students would think of a round shape if you say “make a pizza” – not a wedge! Explain clearly and accurately, but don’t over explain.
Managing activities and terrain must be considered carefully. Will it affect the students’ ability to absorb info? Often it’s better to err on the minimal side of the difficulty spectrum.
3: Promote play, experimentation and exploration. Finding limits and allowing students to be autonomous in their learning will assist in retention of info. Make mistakes and try again with a new approach.
4: Facilitate the learner’s ability to reflect. Create experiences and sensations that prompt students to think about and/or verbalize their experience with an activity. This may require some questions from the instructor.
5: Adapt to the changing needs of the learner. Plan to adjust your plan. With assessment of your student’s skills / attitude / comfort level or fitness, you might not be able to follow the plan you have in mind. Consider your student’s motivations.
6: Manage emotional and physical risk. It’s easy to take someone to more challenging terrain, but this may not be the best approach for your student, or the most refined way of teaching. Consider the implications of more-difficult terrain on your student, and try to keep things in the “sweet spot” between not being bored but also not being afraid.
Consider speed, challenge level, tactics and motivations when managing risk in your lesson.
“Attention is the currency of learning.”
Managing, adapting, collaborating, and reviewing/refining will make for a better lesson overall. We need a teaching and information focus in our lessons, but only if it works hand on hand with a learning focus.