I had a revelation today during a Canoe Coach Level 2 training course that I was co-tutoring.

 "Being skilful is being able to use the right technique for the right situation" : (Leo Hoare: 2013 - www.getafix.com)

I was listening to the other tutor as he was talking about different coaching styles to fit into a framework of a planned session using the model IDEAS (previous discussed). These coaching styles are techniques for teaching our students something. They can be individual work, group work, guided discovery, questioning, shelf-check (where the student has a set of criteria to look for when they are doing the thing), reciprocal or peer to peer coaching/teaching, and so on. There is an endless list of different ways of presenting the information to students and facilitating some kind of learning process, which can be classed on a spectrum of coach/teacher led to student led (Mosston M. & Ashworth S. (2002) Teaching Physical Education, 5th ed. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings).  The Coach Trainees where asked which techniques they preferred to be coached in and low and behold there was a range. We them asked them to consider learning styles from Honey & Mumford (previous discussed) and again we had a variety of answers. The conclusion is that we are all different, and in fact need to incorporate all these differences within a teaching session to satisfy all the students needs ... well some of them anyway.

The course previously had spoken about how to make paddlers with a series of techniques skilful, i.e. able to apply those techniques successfully to different situations. This also relates to the teaching techniques of course. All these different strategies and teaching techniques have to be applied to the classroom (or river bank!) and to teaching students to become better at the subject matter.

So what we are saying is that you need adapt the teaching style to the subject matter and also to the students in front of you on that day in that hour. Yes we need to plan, and perhaps even have a variety of possible ways of presenting information and facilitating learning. But as a skilful teacher we must be able to apply the right technique at the right time in the right place and appropriate for the students in front of us. Adaptation is key, as well as creating differentiation, which may lend itself to certain teaching styles.

So during our PGCE course we are encouraged to try different teaching techniques and reflect on their success or failure. This is part of our journey to becoming skilful teachers. I think there would be a lot of value to reflect on previous years and courses to recognise that in fact for some things we may well have been through this process. Observing other peoples' lessons is also useful and in fact is a method of peer to peer learning, as we should be able to identify those successful styles of teaching and adaptations.

Reflective practice is good to become for skilful as teachers, but at the same time we do need to get out there and do it (lots)
20/3/2013 06:48:05 pm

all makes good sense and i think the important aspect of it all is that whatever methods we try in the workplace the underlying important fact is thast you must be true to yourself, work to your strengths but try and include enhancing techniques as appropriate. happy paddling!

20/3/2013 07:46:30 pm

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the comment. I agree that we must recognise our strengths and certainly be aware of the styles we find easier to teach through, but at the same time as teachers we need to challenge ourselves and develop the styles we feel less comfortable with as well. I really like using a method called guided discovery, where I know the answer(s) and I use active methods to guide my students to the answer without telling them. Thus the students need to think for themselves and I use questioning to draw out the learning. Questioning is hard and I am aware of my weakness in this area, so am developing an appreciation of types of questions to use and reflecting on whether they work or not. I am not so good at giving students more free reign on their learning, as I always have so much to tell them!! I am developing this teaching style and learning to listen better! I think I prefer to be taught myself with guidance, but I am opening my mind to other possibilities, so I can become skilful at applying all teaching styles in appropriate situations. So yes be true to yourself, but also challenge yourself to other possibilities to broaden horizons and mostly be open minded!


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