So I had a plan today about trying out an active teaching style to make an otherwise dry subject more interesting. In the last course we had a set of students that didn't engage very well and were quite frankly a pain! Day 1 of this course is always hard work because we are covering risk assessments and safety briefs. In the past I have watched this been delivered as a lecture, with some practice in that all students go out a do a site specific risk assessment. Then we do safety briefs telling students about the various elements and then showing them one. This doesn't always go down well, as often students have covered the subject before in other courses or they perceive it as obvious! So today I thought I would design a lesson that meant the students took ownership of the risk assessment and safety brief ... ie with some carefully structured active sessions they create the safety brief themselves.

So introductions to the course took 30 minutes or so, then some slides putting a few concepts in front of the class that they need for coaching, ie SEL (safety, Enjoyment & Learning - relates to Maslow I think) & Plan Do Review (ie the teaching cycle simplified). Now Risk Assessments ... A quick intro with a clarification that most (but not all) have done them before! An acknowledge that they are important, but sometimes tedious, with an explanation that they as Level 1 coaches would be responsible so they have to do it to avoid being sued for negligence! That's what I call motivation! We discussed (question & answers) how to do a risk assessment (they have a generic one in front of them) and then discuss generic, dynamic & specific (to the site) ... What areas are important? Having established that I slit the 8 strong group into 3 and each tackles a particular area of the site and produces a specific risk assessment (15 minutes). The group comes back together, writes it up & I check that they understand going around individually!. Now comes the clever part - I wanted to get each group to tell another group what they had found so that by the end everyone had a risk assessment for the whole site. However I had 3 groups, so I adapted my "speed dating" part so that individuals pick another individual from another group and exchange info that way! The feedback and activity from the group was great. No-one was silent and all were involved! The outcome of writing a risk assessment was achieved & I believe learning took place! Now onto the safety brief! I wanted them to develop it, but knew without seeing one they may not get it. But just mimicking someone else is not understanding WHY we do a safety brief & when! So using their risk assessments and the generic ones already laid out I got the groups to discuss what should be in a safety brief imagining they are the coaches! Afterwards I went round the room and asked for an ordered set of things you could say in a safety brief & wrote it on the board (a computer would have been good at this point). They had got 90% of the brief although not necessarily the correct/logical order. So now for some input from the tutors ... outside to consider manual handling and the tools to be able to deliver that, how to fit buoyancy aids and look at clothing, how to do an emergency capsize drill. All done back to the classroom and we discuss how the safety brief should be revised ... brilliant and now 100% right & they did it (with guidance). I deliver a demo (I asked if they wanted one!!) and then I tell them that it would be really cool if they practice one to one (it is lunch time now, but perhaps they could do it over lunch!). No sooner had I left than they were practising and giving each other feedback based on the crib card they had made! The testing of this learning will be the day after tomorrow when they have to do a safety brief for real in their assessed session, but I am very positive that they will be great!

Now I know that when you just tell them, demo one and then get them to copy it among themselves that works (always has in the past), but I feel that this time they have also taken responsibility & have an understanding that their safety brief is important because of that, not because they have to do it. These are 17 & 18 year olds who could be taking my child paddling!!

I have always though active teaching was good, but hadn't appreciated that it means more than just discussion & that it can definitely be applied to even the driest of subjects.

I know I need some theory and references behind this & will for my essay.

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