While we’re full on summer mode, we can still think about or practice in our daily activities some teaching skills that will be useful in our next snowboarding lessons. Here’s a great Teaching Tip from CASI National Technical Team Member Dom Oshanek, about how to use plain language when teaching. There might be some time before you teach your next snowboarding lesson – or maybe not if you are currently teaching somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere – but these teaching skills can use some mileage outside of snowboarding.

The National Technical Team encourages you to give this tip some thinking and try putting it in practice while speaking or explaining something to the people around you.

Have fun with it !

I’ve always found that the best instructors speak in the plainest language available, whether teaching  inexperienced beginners or expert instructors. Not only does avoiding jargon aid students in  understanding foreign concepts, but it’s also easier for the instructor to keep things straight in their own  head. However, many of CASI’s teaching concepts are based in technical systems and ‘CASI-words’; so  how can we ‘translate’ these technical terms into plain language for use in our lessons? 

(As always) there is not right or wrong way, but here are the strategies I use to ‘translate’ two of CASI’s  most fundamental concepts, the Competencies and the Riding Skills; feel free to steal these  ‘translations’ or use them as a basis for developing your own: 

  • Core Competencies: The Core Competencies are quite easy to ‘translate’ as they are already written with  plain language. Because we primarily use the Competencies as a lens by which to  analyze our students or by which to frame the goal of the lesson, the ‘translations’ I use  are as simple as “I am… (insert core competency)” or “Are they…” or “Let’s get better  at…”
  • Advanced Competencies: The Advanced Competencies serve the same purpose as the Core Competencies, yet  they are not named as plainly, so the same trick won’t work. Instead, for the Advanced  Competencies, I use a few adjectives, adverbs, or descriptive phrases to paint a distinct  mental image for each competency. Here are some of the words and phrases I use; see  if you can guess which word I use for which Competency: Powerful, consistent, playful, aggressive, springy, adaptable, symmetrical, flowing, efficient, dynamic, round, unpredictable, smooth, in-tune with the terrain, driving not surviving, maintain momentum, transfer energy, consistent  through inconsistencies.
  • Riding Skills: For the Riding Skills (and their two components each), I use a verb attached to a specific  body part, to help communicate a single, specific biomechanic that the student can  focus on effectively. Here are some of the verbs I like to use; see if you can add a  specific body part to each one and associate that combination to a skill or skill component: Bend, Tense, Pinch, Loosen, Drop, Tilt, Twist, Rotate, Swing, Snap, Tighten, Lead,  Unwind, Lean, Roll, Flex, Pull, Sink, Tip, Push, Relax, Resist, Release.
  • As you may have guessed, Timing and Coordination is a bit different because it deals  with altering the performance of one or more of the other skills. Therefore, much like  with the Competencies, I use descriptive words for Timing and Coordination: Longer, Harder, Quicker, Sooner, Less.

I hope these examples help you to ‘translate’ CASI’s core technical concepts. Remember, the plainer the  language you use in your lesson, the more that your students (and you) will understand and learn. 

Next  time you’re out teaching, challenge yourself to teach without using a single technical ‘CASI-word’!

2022 Dom

Dom Oshanek
CASI Level 4 Evaluator
National Technical Team Member