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How do we do this sort of thing in Snow Sports Instruction?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I just saw this in humor and it got me thinking.



Notice how effortlessly and joyfully Bobbie McFarrin led the audience through this experience.  Here was a diverse group of people.  None of them were expecting to take this as a lesson.  He just got up and without any talking got them singing and following his lead.  That is the sign of a phenomenal instructor.

Now, how can we do this with our instruction?  What can we learn from this?  How can you incorporate the essence of this into your style of teaching?

I've just seen this and I'm mulling it over.  I like it.  I want to use it.
post #2 of 31
Music is a global language.

Very

JF
post #3 of 31
This is a fabulous example of "show and do much more than you say."
post #4 of 31
That is really cool T-Square!  Thanks for posting it!  I too am now going to try to figure a way to use it!
post #5 of 31
Hmmmm,,,, here's what I see.  An introduction to a clever and new way to blend basic vocal skills that already exist.  Definately what we should be striving to do as ski coaches.  The video represents the second part of the process. 
post #6 of 31
T-square,

Have you ever taken a group and played "erase my tracks"?  It is where a leader starts skiing, and the task is to precisely move your skis exactly where the leader leaves tracks of his skis.  A group of 4 skiers may look like there was just one skier leaving tracks. A cleaver leader leader can get the class to use their skis differently than they have before by not saying anything.  I find it works well, is fun for the class and the learning is dramatic.

I also use a similar teaching method with "follow the leader".  Take a group of wedge skiers (possibly kids) and have them follow you.  I choose a path where a wedge won't work for the class, and before you know it, they are gliding, using turn shape to control speed and sometimes even progressing to open parallel without saying a word.

RW
post #7 of 31
I've done something similar to that Ron.  I've told the kids that I want to pretend that my skis are leaving red tracks in the snow, and in order to change the color to their favorite color, they have to ski in my tracks (or at least very close).  "Do as I do" often works much better than "do as I say", especially with the kids!
post #8 of 31
The video is very cool...

It actually reminds me of something my examiner made us do when I took my LIII exam.  The task was to teach something without speaking.  It was actually quite fun, and really gets you thinking about how we should be communicating (or not communicating) with students.

Mike
post #9 of 31
PLAY and invite your guests to play with you!
I can't tell you how many coaches get too serious and forget to have fun as they teach. Fun is contageous. Remember the laughing teeth toy? It was a success because it made people laugh.
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

I just saw this in humor and it got me thinking.


Notice how effortlessly and joyfully Bobbie McFarrin led the audience through this experience.  Here was a diverse group of people.  None of them were expecting to take this as a lesson.  He just got up and without any talking got them singing and following his lead.  That is the sign of a phenomenal instructor.

Now, how can we do this with our instruction?  What can we learn from this?  How can you incorporate the essence of this into your style of teaching?

I've just seen this and I'm mulling it over.  I like it.  I want to use it.

 




http://vimeo.com/5823223

Not to take away from what you learned here....that is great.  But note how quickly the "phenominal instructor" crashes and burns when it gets a little more complicated.

As mentioned above, the "do, copy, repeat model"is great for simple ideas, and works wonders with getting people, especially kids to do basics or copy exercises, but when you are looking to integrate these things back into full skiing you need alot more. That is not to say this idea is not without merit...it does, it fact it has tons of merit....but it is only one technique of many.  Phenominal instructors use many techniques at once, and tailor their techniques to their audience and the message they are trying to convey.

Cool videos thou....I really the ones where the bird songs where altered to resemble "human music"....seems music is more of a universal language then we knew.
post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
He may have "crashed and burned" on while trying for audience participation.  However, what I see is that he continued with the entertainment without it outwardly affecting him.  This is what a good entertainer does, keep the entertainment moving even though you blew it someplace.  How many of us have seen a comic blow a joke and then harp on the fact that the audience didn't get it?  All of a sudden you have an adversarial relationship started.

There's the true lesson for good instructors from that video.  A good instructor needs to accept that sometimes what you ask your students to do misses the mark completely.  Then you need to continue as if nothing happened, shift gears as needed, and find something that works.

Singing is talking pretty by modifying your normal speech pattern. 

I like to think of skiing as just walking or dancing while sliding.  Like dancing well, you need to modify your walking movement patterns to ski pretty.


Edited by T-Square - 8/16/2009 at 01:40 pm GMT
Edited by T-Square - 8/16/2009 at 01:40 pm GMT
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

There's the true lesson for good instructors from that video.  A good instructor needs to accept that sometimes what you ask your students to do misses the mark completely.  Then you need to continue as if nothing happened, shift gears as needed, and find something that works.

Ummm...not to harp, but no.  If you miss the mark, acknowledge it, and try somthing simpler.  Keep going simpler as required until they do get it....develop the skills, then add the difficulty back in slowly so that you keep that skill development going....THEN when your students are ready try again, what you failed at the first time....they will be amazed at what they can now do, due to your teaching, and their hard work.  This approach will give your students a much greater sense of satisfaction and respect for you.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post




Ummm...not to harp, but no.  If you miss the mark, acknowledge it, and try somthing simpler.  Keep going simpler as required until they do get it....develop the skills, then add the difficulty back in slowly so that you keep that skill development going....THEN when your students are ready try again, what you failed at the first time....they will be amazed at what they can now do, due to your teaching, and their hard work.  This approach will give your students a much greater sense of satisfaction and respect for you.
Wise advice in teaching any subject.
post #14 of 31
While I'm not a ski instructor, I pay my bills by training and facilitating workshops in the corporate environment. 

On another website, a group of trainers, facilitators, instructional designers, and other learning types have been haggling over how much "entertainment" is appropriate while leading any kind of learning event. 

I was the original poster of the Bobby McFerrin video (found on Twitter) and now pose to all of you ski instructors some questions:  1-do you consider Bobby McFerrin's example as entertainment, instruction, both, neither; 2-do you think entertainment, to any extent, is a useful tool while teaching skiing, and 3-how to you use it (entertainment/props/humor/music) to further your students' understanding and skiing ability? 

Stipulation:  no fair saying "It depends on the skill....it depends on the intent....it depends on the conditions.....  it depends on what socks I'm wearing...."  Just answer the question and entertain us....or not!
post #15 of 31
I'll take a go at it!

1.  I think that the Bobby McFerrin's example is both. It's entertaining but subconsciously, your learning from it.  2.  I most definately think that entertainment is useful when teaching anything, not just skiing.  It help keep the student interested. 3.  Props are very useful in a lesson situation.  For example:  Visual cues can aid in getting your students to learn how turn shape is used to control speed.  Music can help them get into a rythym while they're skiing.  Humor is always good, in almost any situation.  If it's not fun, the student normally loses interest and then they normally don't come back!

Edited by Snowmiser - 8/17/2009 at 02:04 am GMT
Edited by Snowmiser - 8/17/2009 at 02:05 am GMT
Edited by Snowmiser - 8/17/2009 at 02:56 pm GMT
post #16 of 31
 I'll go first....  I think BF was entertaining and not specifically teaching in this example.  He did a great job of engaging the audience which is an important part of teaching.  I do think entertainment can be an important and useful tool for instruction.  Ski instruction in particular should be fun.  Most skiers ski for recreation, if it isn't fun, why bother.  I don't have any specific things that I do in a lesson.  I try to keep it positive and fun.  I try to build a skills progression which will lead into more challenging terrain as the lesson progresses.  I try to listen to my students so that I can give them the lesson they are looking for and not only the lesson I want to teach.  If my students are smiling and laughing they are more likely to learn and a lot more likely to tip me and request me when they come back for more lessons.
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarCube View Post


1-do you consider Bobby McFerrin's example as entertainment, instruction, both, neither;
 
2-do you think entertainment, to any extent, is a useful tool while teaching skiing, and

3-how to you use it (entertainment/props/humor/music) to further your students' understanding and skiing ability? 

 

1. This is entertainment and instruction -- a powerful combination.

2. Entertainment can be very useful.  You don't necessarily want to package everything in an entertainment layer, but it fits a lot of situations.

3. Entertainment in various forms establishes a memorable and personal context that makes the learning content stick.

I see this video as an excellent demonstration of general pedagogy.  It shows that verbal communication is not the only way to teach something, and that words can be a less than effective way to deliver a message.

The nominal goal here was to get the audience to sound out notes, going higher or lower depending on which way he jumped.

Think of how the goal would be achieved if it was set up with only verbal communication...

  "Okay everyone, when I jump here, sound out Middle C."
  (What's middle C?  Do you want to hear "laa" or "baa" or "hum"?  How long should I hold the note?)

  "When I jump to the right, sound out another note up a major second."
  (Your right or my right?  What's a major second? Why don't you raise your hand for a higher note?)

You've lost them.  You might be able to get them back eventually, but the impression that's left probably isn't what you intended.

Bobby McFerrin's simple actions, reinforced with pretty universal hand gestures, got the point across effectively and memorably in about 10 seconds.
post #18 of 31
Great video!!!  What impresses me the most about Bobby's abilities is how he taps into competancies that the audience may not be aware of.  He jumps from the original 2 notes that he coached everyone on, but then makes the leap to the third and forces the audience to react without thinking about what to sing next.  He chooses the pentatonic scale rather than the very familiar major scale, which makes it even more extraordinary.  

To substitute singing for skiing, I think how we do this sort of thing in snow sports instruction is to tap into the movement competancies that most people posess and introduce it in an entertaining way.   Leading a student into an effective reaction without all the talking.  Props are a great way to achieve this (to expand on Snowmiser's comment.) 

For example, take four lengths of bamboo and make a "+" sign, lay it down on the flats, have your students stand with tips pointing towards the intersection and ask them to step over the boo in a circle.  They may unknowingly make a wedge or learn how to sidestep effectively so they don't step on the boo.  Learning without all the talk, talk, talking.

Oh and those questions...

1. He is using both.
2. Absolutely.  Like it or not, teaching skiing is a bit of a performance. Especially when teaching large groups.
3. I use entertainment in two ways, I guess.  By drawing my student's attention to the natural entertainment of skiing (i.e. speed, jumps, the view, the sunshine, etc...)  The other entertaining thing about skiing is the human element.  Fears, confidence, success, humor, people watching on the lift or goal setting.

-nerd
post #19 of 31
In the video, the leader is the central focus and he asks the group to follow him through the entire activity. The objective for the student is to simply follow as directed. Introducing a new movement is when we use this type of directed learning.

Beyond that introductory stage we need to step out of the spotlight and shift our focus instead to helping our students explore the new movements we suggested. It would be like McFerrin going out in the audience and coaching them on an individual basis. So even though he does some teaching and expands on it a bit, IMO we're talking about two very different outcomes and objectives here, group participation and individual acquisition of new movement skills.
Edited by justanotherskipro - 8/17/2009 at 05:03 pm GMT
post #20 of 31
Having taught high school and college for a while, I've heard the "entertainment" discussion many times.  It usually comes from frustrated lecturers who find that without bells and whistles, they can't keep their students' attention on the task at hand.

However, I am an art teacher, and among art teachers this is not much of an issue.  The students do their work while class is going on, while interacting with the teacher.  Same for on-snow  instruction.  So whether to "entertain" or not rarely came up as a topic of interest among art teachers that I know, and so far I haven't heard it in discussions about snow sports instruction, either.

"Fun," however, is the operative word for skiing.  I'm not sure how "fun" overlaps with "entertainment."  They are not the same thing. 

Entertainment in an educational setting involves particular roles.  There are spectators and an entertainer.  Fun, on the other hand, is a state of mind.  In an educational setting, it is an emotional response that does not imply any particular roles for teacher and students.  Fun can be infused into both students and teacher equally, whereas entertaining implies a big difference between the person doing the entertaining and those being entertained.  Thus, I think, the frustration of teachers finding themselves compelled to "entertain" their students.

McFerrin was entertaining in that second video, and very well.  But I'm not sure his audience was "learning" from an instructional event while being entertained, any more than they would have been at a McFerrin concert.
post #21 of 31
Actually for kids lessons I think this can be a bigger issue. Mostly because some of our guests use the childrens school as day care. These kids don't really want to be "in school" and the challenge is to get them to participate in the lesson. Often this includes playing games that will be more entertaining than they are educational. Once they open up and start enjoying themselves we can sneak in a some learning but the activities need include a lot of entertainment.
Edited by justanotherskipro - 8/17/2009 at 10:37 pm GMT
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski_nerd13 View Post
  He chooses the pentatonic scale rather than the very familiar major scale, which makes it even more extraordinary.  


The pentatonic scale he's using is just 5 of the notes in the major scale leaving out the 4th and 7th steps - which are where you find dissonances.

Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti (Do) - major scale - 7 notes
Do Re Mi      Sol La     (Do)  - pentatonic scale - 5 notes

Pentatonic means 5 notes, there are other pentatonic scales as well any scale using 5 notes (instead of the typical 7) is called a pentatonic scale.

This scale is easier to hear and use then the full major scale.  A blues scale is a pentatonic scale as well (with blue notes added.)
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post





The pentatonic scale he's using is just 5 of the notes in the major scale leaving out the 4th and 7th steps - which are where you find dissonances.

Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti (Do) - major scale - 7 notes
Do Re Mi      Sol La     (Do)  - pentatonic scale - 5 notes

Pentatonic means 5 notes, there are other pentatonic scales as well any scale using 5 notes (instead of the typical 7) is called a pentatonic scale.

This scale is easier to hear and use then the full major scale.  A blues scale is a pentatonic scale as well (with blue notes added.)
 

a ha....cheers for the music theory info.  Knew I should have paid better attention in school.

-nerd
post #24 of 31
So we can agree that the video was certainly entertaining, a bit instructional (what did you learn as a result of watching the video?), inspiring and maybe a tad humbling.  So, to bring it back to T-Square's original post, curious as to what, if anything, you'll try to do differently when you get ready to teach again?
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarCube View Post

While I'm not a ski instructor, I pay my bills by training and facilitating workshops in the corporate environment. 

On another website, a group of trainers, facilitators, instructional designers, and other learning types have been haggling over how much "entertainment" is appropriate while leading any kind of learning event. 

I was the original poster of the Bobby McFerrin video (found on Twitter) and now pose to all of you ski instructors some questions:  1-do you consider Bobby McFerrin's example as entertainment, instruction, both, neither; 2-do you think entertainment, to any extent, is a useful tool while teaching skiing, and 3-how to you use it (entertainment/props/humor/music) to further your students' understanding and skiing ability? 

Stipulation:  no fair saying "It depends on the skill....it depends on the intent....it depends on the conditions.....  it depends on what socks I'm wearing...."  Just answer the question and entertain us....or not!
 
I think you'll find the key is to keep your students engaged.  How you do that is student dependent.....good instructors can keep all types of people engaged for hours...using a combination of tactics.  Fun and entertainment and just two....good instructors are not one trick ponies.
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

....good instructors are not one trick ponies.
 

Reminding me of the Paul Simon lyric that always resonates with me as far as inefficient movements in my skiing.  (While we're combining music and skiing after all.)


He makes it look so easy


He looks so clean


He moves like God’s
Immaculate machine


He makes me think about

All of these extra moves I make


And all this herky-jerky motion


And the bag of tricks it takes


To get me through my working day


One-trick pony

 

 

post #27 of 31
I completely agree on the one-trick pony...I'm forever digging through my bag of tricks to come up with new ways to keep the learners with me.  Since a lot of what I teach can frankly be a bit dull, this makes my job hard and fun at the same time.  Teaching skiing is a quite different from the stuff I teach and so many instructors I've had seem to be one-trickers.  How come? 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post



I think you'll find the key is to keep your students engaged.  How you do that is student dependent.....good instructors can keep all types of people engaged for hours...using a combination of tactics.  Fun and entertainment and just two....good instructors are not one trick ponies.
 
post #28 of 31
SugarCube, you ask how come many instructors are 1 trick ponies.  I think there are a variety of reasons for this. One, it probably has been many years since some of these instructors have taken a lesson or attempted to learn a new skill.  Skiing is no longer new and exciting for some of these people. Two, many ski instructors are not educators. They are skiers who think they should tell a student how to do something and the student should do it.  Three, many ski instructors forget that for many people in lessons, it is much more than learning to ski. It is about the entire experience of the mountains, the comraderie of the people in the lesson and it is about going home with some wonderful memories of the day.

I am sure you put many hours of thought and planning into your seminars.  It takes effort to take a diverse group of people in a ski lesson and provide a great experience for the day.  Some people have no passion for what they do and it shows.  
post #29 of 31
 As a former Associate Professor of Music (Berklee College) and Assistant Department Chair I can attest to what skier31 says.  Good parallel to ski instructors actually, because many of the Instructors there were musicians who just needed a job.  I took complaints from students about teachers and observed and evaluated teachers.  Many were amazing musicians, but mediocre teachers.

Teaching is a skill of it's own.  Knowledge of the subject matter and expertise are at most 1/2 of what is needed to be a good teacher.  Many lesser musicians were better teachers, because they a:) cared about the students b:) prepared for classes c:) listened to the students and adjusted their teaching methodologies based on what they heard.

Many PSIA clinics and continuing education don't focus on teaching skills.  I've always found it odd that so much of what we can take is to work on our own skiing.  Great, but odd.
post #30 of 31
Thank you, Nancy and SMJ, for your thoughtful responses.  I've trained many new trainers and have seen people who have an exceptional command of their subject matter have absolutely no platform presence.  You can learn it but as Nancy points out it helps to have a great passion for it too.  This makes me appreciate those ski instructors I've had (e.g. Robin Barnes, Rick "Fastman" Schnellmann) who exude passion for sharing the skiing experience just a bit more. 

And I bet the 2 of you are pretty darned good ski instructors too.  I hope you both have a fab season!
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