We are hopefully all familiar with the basic ideas behind the use of questions in our lessons & training sessions, such as: checking for understanding, review purposes, highlighting breakthroughs, etc.

I really think sometimes we forget to ask ourselves a few important questions to help us understand what we are teaching and if it’s working or not? I’ve compiled a brief list of some of the questions I ask myself every time I teach a lesson, course, or session, that help me get success from my time in front of the group. 

For me these questions really happen in three phases: 

Phase 1: Planning 

For me probably the most important time to ask myself a few things about what I’m about to teach. The biggest reason it is important, is because nothing has happened yet, therefore it is very easy to change things based on my answers. 

– What should I teach them? (OK, this is usually where it all begins, the answer to this question usually takes us on a journey for the length of our session, but before you answer it and go ahead with it, STOP! There is more to it!) 

– Is this what they need? (This is where you will start to figure out the relevance to your thoughts, is it going to really benefit them? Or is it just something you know you can teach well and make yourself sound smart?) 

– Is this level of student/ instructor going to benefit from this idea? (All of us that have been doing this for a while have a million opinions and ideas about snowboarding and teaching. That’s great, but it’s not about you, it’s about them. This is one of the things I really push for on the level 3 course during the intro to pedagogy. I always say,” Ask yourselves, would a level 1 instructor learn something from this session?’’ If the answer is yes, then you are starting on the right track.) 

-What’s the outcome? (This is important because everything else has to support this! Forget about skills and movements and all that stuff for a second, and figure out the final outcome, the reason for you being in front of them! If you can figure out a solid outcome that they need, you can then add the skills, sub-skills, movements, exercises and whatever else afterwards to support this.) 

Phase 2: Presentation 

As we get out in front of the group it is easy to keep asking yourself a few simple things to make sure you are doing a good job. The earlier you identify things that are good or bad, the more time you have to make changes and adjustments throughout your presentation. 

– Am I clear enough? (Just because your idea is clear in your head doesn’t mean it’s clear to them. Say it simply, cover your what, whys, how’s, and where’s, then get on with it. A good way to clarify for everyone is to remember those learning styles. Some will need a clear detailed explanation, some will need a clear picture, and some will need to just try it and want you let them know how they are doing!) 

– Are they really learning something? (This is a good thing to identify, if the answer is no, change your approach or idea a bit. No point in rolling with an idea that’s not working. If the answer is yes, try to re-create the situations that are working!) 

– Are they having fun? (Fun is a good gateway for learning, people that are stoked and having a blast will probably be more receptive to trying new things and learn faster.) Again, if you identity situations and how they happened, they can be re-created!) 

– Am I giving them enough feedback? (People need to know how they are doing; a few common mistakes are being vague, or just focusing on what needs to be fixed. Be descriptive let them know exactly what’s going on, they can’t see themselves come down the hill, describe it to them!) 

Phase 3: Reflection 

This is a good time to be honest with yourselves. Identify what happened whether it’s good or bad, usually on a course you get told, but in a lesson or a session we usually rush off to our next thing leaving what just happened behind. If there was success then you probably did something right, that’s great, do it again! If there wasn’t success, we are quick to blame our sucky students, but before you do that, ask yourself a few questions to make sure it wasn’t your fault!!) 

– Did they get it? (Was there some success? If so that’s great. If the answer is no, then we have to figure out why. It may have been your fault not theirs! Maybe you were unclear? Maybe all those learning styles weren’t covered long enough? Maybe the topic wasn’t right for them? Maybe the goal was too high? Once we figure out all this stuff then you can start to blame them for sucking. 

– Did I do good enough? (I do this during every lesson, session and especially courses that I teach. If you teach courses try it out, for example: If someone is unsuccessful, ask yourself, is it your fault? Were you clear enough? Did they get enough info/feedback? Again, it’s pretty easy to blame them for not getting it!) 

In conclusion, by asking yourselves a few basic questions about your presentations and concepts will help you understand what is really happening. This is just a brief incomplete list of things that go through my head to make sure I’m doing the best job I can when I get out in front of a group. 

Thanks for reading! 

Adam Gardner 
CASI Level 4 Evaluator