I am attending a TeachMeet Sydney event this afternoon at Gilroy Catholic College.. Teachmeets are a fantastic space for educators from all sectors and settings to share ideas via Pecha Kucha presentations, 2-minute mini presentations and inspiring informal discussions. One of the best things about Teachmeets are the fantastic backchannels via the #tmsydney or #tmhills tags Here is my mini presentation on how I recently found myself learning how to snowboard and what the experience taught be about Turning, Falling, Hurting and Learning!*
I think as teachers, most of us were probably pretty good learners at school. The term ‘lifelong learner’ is commonly used to describe ourselves and we genuinely enjoy the thrill of pursuing our interests for just the sheer joy of it.
I think I had forgotten what it is like though to be learning something from the very beginning purely for the purposes of intrinsic achievement and personal satisfaction.
Learning to walk – can anyone remember that process?
Learning to swim – told you had to.
Learning to ride a bike – you would be left out if you didn’t.
Learning to drive – independence was the motivating factor.
Learning at school – necessary as tests and assessment tasks required completion, mixed with fear of failure or a bad report.
Learning to snowboard – because I could and it looked like awesome fun!
1. Turning, Falling, Hurting, Learning
Time to be a beginner, a novice and an utter and complete noob. A blank slate with zero knowledge of skateboarding, surfing or anything remotely similar. I have skied many times before but snowboarding was a completely different ballgame – except for the fact that it also on snow.
Why? I wanted to try something new. I wanted to learn. I wanted to see if I could do it.
2. The Goal
After three days of snowboarding lessons and practice, I wanted to be able to do a Blue run (intermediate). This image is of Ballroom – a Blue run at Merritt’s, Thredbo. This was appearing to be overly ambitious following my number of falls on Day
3. New Ride
Day 1 – I have never skateboarded, surfed successfully or wakeboarded. Two feet planted on one piece of hardware was very strange. Not to mention the fact that there are two ways down the mountain – facing forward (heel-side) or backwards (toe-side).
I was incredibly disheartened after our first lesson. In two hours, I had stood up on my board about three times and had smashed my knees about ten times. Getting down the beginner slope of Friday Flat was proving a very tiring, frustrating, overwhelming, and very painful, task.
4. Some Success
Day 2 – A little more success in my lesson and in the time it took to get from top to bottom. I had reduced average falls to about three and was starting to realise how to turn my board and have slightly more control over direction and the ability to stop without falling.
However, I also had two of the hardest falls I’ve ever had in my life while trying master heel-to-toe turns. Falling backwards, boarding catching an edge in the snow, smack onto my tail bone and flat on my back, partially winded.
Doing that twice in a row was painful and daunting. So that left me with three options.
One – Pack up and get off the snow. Concede defeat; snowboarding is clearly not for me. Chuck in the board and go get a coffee.
Two – Forget about trying to master heel-to-toe turns. I can get down the mountain fine without turning, just straight out heel-side. Boring and slow, but safe.
Three – Improve my technique. Ask for advice and feedback from others who have mastered this skill. Process the fear and the pain but find ways to get around it.
How often are our students faced with similar dilemmas? How do we encourage and nurture the confidence and desire to ignore options One and Two and pursue Three.
5. Keep Going
The days became a blur of Friday Flat runs and chairlift rides. Snow sports are probably one of the few activities that you can potentially practice for up to eight hours a day without even realising it at the time.
It is amazing how quickly beginner’s progress at the snow and the only real reason for this rapid improvement is the hours of practice time, and much of it self-paced.
If our students could have concentrated yet self-paced time to improve and develop their skills in areas they were passionate about, who knows what they could create and master?
6. Achievement Unlocked???
Not quite. Certainly not ready for Black Diamond runs just yet but I did conquer the Ballroom – Blue run on Day 3 with only a minor fall.
But I am looking forward to seeing what I can do next time. I can’t wait to come back to keep building on what I have learnt and continuing to improve.
The Next Challenge?
Trying to instil this same feeling in my students. I want them to be EXCITED about learning. I want them to VALUE their learning. I want them to WANT to learn.
I want them to be faced with falls or disappointments and have the resilience and self-belief to seek a positive solution rather than a way out.
Not just be motivated by fear of failure or selecting the easy option.
I never thought that snowboarding could be such a reflective and thought-provoking experience. You learn something new every day.
*All images taken by Clarinda Brown.