Thursday, October 1, 2009

ACA L4 Certification: Day 2

Today was once again at Widewater and was relatively easy. This was now our turn to teach the "class" strokes with the assumption that the "class" had never learned how to paddle before. We were scored on how well we could teach the stroke, how well we could model the stroke properly and how well we could give feedback.

The teaching paradigm that we were using was a sell, show, do model. First we have to sell the stroke to the students, why do they need to learn this other then just because. Then we show then what they will be learning. After the show, we teach them how to do the stroke modeling again as needed with pointers to focus on. The goal is to try to keep that all as short as possible so they can be trying it themselves as quickly as possible. This way the people with short attention spans are working on the stroke shortly after learning it.

It is really important to be able to model the strokes accurately even when slowing them down. If you can do the stroke correctly at normally speed but incorrectly when slowing it down, it doesn't do any good to the student. Modeling isn't just a temporary situation. As long as you are in the teaching role, you are constantly modeling perfect strokes. It is very bad to give mixed messages and slumping in the kayak after telling everyone to sit up isn't very good.

The instructor had some very interesting names for the feedback sandwich. Basically you can't simply tell someone they are doing something wrong as it is frustrating and counter-productive. Rather, the best model is to praise something they are doing well, then give them some criticism and how to correct it, then more feedback on how well they are doing. By starting and ending the criticism with good stuff, they fell better about how they are progressing.

Feedback to us
Some things I noticed about the other instructor candidates was one person was very verbose and actually lost me part of the way through his teaching. I hate giving feedback of that nature but it had to be said. One girl was too quick in her feedback and didn't wait to see if I was doing it correctly. In order for us to test the candidates, at one point, one person in the group would model a stroke incorrectly to see if they could pick up on it. I think this was the Instructor Trainers idea of fun and we all got into it trying to come up with good ways to screw up the stroke. Beginners are forever creative in how to do a paddle stroke once taught. Many students will turn the paddle backwards, or even hold the paddle upside down. Some will shift their hand positions making it difficult to teach them correct blade placement. It is hard to tell someone to cock their wrist when the paddle is already lined up correctly.

One way for us to see how we are doing is through the video. We were taped today modeling the strokes we had learned plus a few others we hadn't yet learned but should know how to do, this was mostly for the three of us that where moving on to the L4 training. We also had our roll filmed as well. We watched them back at the shop. I had gone first and one of the first comments was that I not be allowed to go first again. I have been told many times that I model my strokes very nicely and the Instructor Trainer was quick to point this out, many times to everyone dismay. It was a bit embarrassing after a while. My roll was actually quite nice this time. The only comment was that I could bring the paddle in a little tighter in the sculling draw, which I thought I normally did but apparently not in this case.

At the end of the day normally everyone has a private conference with the Instructor Trainer to learn whether they were now certified to teach and at what level. Since most of us where continuing on we didn't have the conference, just the two who were only going for the L2. Tomorrow will be out on the Chesapeake Bay in some conditions.

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