Meta-reflection in the Alps: Reviewing reviews 

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By Dr Paul Garner

Last week I attended the annual BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) Trainers Conference in Hintertux, Austria. This was the first time the training body of circa 70 people had met in person, and on snow since 2017. BASI Trainers are recruited and appointed via a rigorous selection process and are recognised globally as world class snowsport teacher developers and assessors. In part, these high standards come from the collaborative approach to their own professional development, which culminates at this yearly gathering, but also from a continual quest to improve and develop systems, resources and practical approaches.  

This willingness to learn was in sharp focus at this conference, which focussed amongst other things, on the ability of Trainers to conduct reflective reviews of teaching episodes, which are delivered by instructors on BASI courses. Furthermore, instructors are required to develop their own reviewing skills as they progress through the BASI education pathway, in recognition that reviewing the teaching of one’s peers leads to a deeper appreciation of effective practice. So, to develop these skills the Trainers worked on their meta-reflection, looking at their ability to review reviews. And indeed, as a collective we then reviewed the reviewing the review sessions that took place on the glacier! 

Much of this work was underpinned by enhancing approaches to questioning, which can range from a less useful mechanistic, routine exercise to an art form that fosters critical thinking in one’s learners. With the expert support and guidance of Dr Andrew Horrell from Edinburgh University, as Trainers we spent two days delivering mini-teaching episodes in small groups, critiquing each other’s delivery, discussing the impact and efficacy of certain questions in specific contexts, and sharing ideas on how best to support the development of BASI instructors who attend development and assessment courses throughout the year.  

The Alpine glaciers have seen better days, but in 21 years of being a BASI trainer I have rarely seen such a cohesive, openminded, high performing and passionate group of people.

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