Reflections on being a pupil again….

So my last blog was about maths… this one is about skiing!!! It is a bit of fun really…

Last week I went skiing in France. I’ve been a few times now, so would class myself somewhere around intermediate in terms of competence! I still need lessons!! You could say I haven’t mastered the art of skiing yet…

So here are my reflections on being a pupil again, and on the form of teaching and assessment which was used. Each morning we got up for 2 hour lessons. I apologise in advance for the use of the word ‘level’ but that is how the ESF lessons are defined in terms of standards.

Firstly, we had a rather lovely class. Some of us knew each other from last year (!) and we were all roughly the same age. There was an instant group feeling.

Lesson Number One: Relationships are key. Nothing new there then!

Secondly, we had a good instructor. He was highly skilled and spoke excellent English which was a relief (I did German GCSE a long time ago, my French is pretty non existent!).

He assessed where we were at on the first day. He ‘let us ski’. He took us down some fairly easy runs to build our confidence and to encourage us. He spent half the first lesson revisiting what we had learned in the previous level last year.

Lesson Number Two: Know the starting points of your pupils. Prior knowledge is key to setting the right pace for learning. I had had my doubts about moving up a level, but now I was confident I was in the right class. All too often I still think we don’t do this in RE. I can imagine being a pupil who was still doing the ‘previous level’, I’d be frustrated and bored… sometimes we need to put ourselves back into the pupil seat…

Thirdly, he then showed us what we would ‘be able to achieve’ by the end of the week. The focus was short turns down steep slopes! This was a challenging task, but not unachievable I felt!

Lesson Number Three: The success criteria or learning outcomes were very clear from start. The level of challenge was right. So the lessons during the rest of the week aimed to enable us to achieve this.

So, each day we did short turns on slightly steeper slopes. On the Wednesday, we did a pretty challenging one, but our instructor said he was confident we could all do it. We had taken little steps along the way to successful learning.

Lesson Number Four: The lesson structure was designed to enable us to achieve the outcome.

Lastly, the instructor didn’t always stick to the plan! He allowed time for us to admire the amazing views from the tops of mountains. The weather played its part too! Some days the weather meant we could not ski on the planned route as the visibility was too poor. Yet on another day, the snow conditions were superb… so our instructor said… let’s just ski today and enjoy it!

Lesson Number Five: Sometimes it is good not to stick to the plan! Go Off Piste!

Sometimes it is good to reflect on being a pupil again, particularly when the teaching is good.

And most importantly, did I enjoy learning? Yes I did.


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I’m an independent Religious Education Consultant. I work mainly in the Eastern Region for the Diocese of Norwich, and also for Culham St Gabriel’s Trust managing their TeachRE course. The views here are my own, and do not represent any of the organisations I work for.

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