Advanced teaching assessment - Zermatt, December 2009

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In Zermatt for a week. My first visit. It’s a lovely village, especially when the fresh snow we’ve had began to make everything even more pretty. However, the drawback to the weather is the skiing is a bit of an ordeal and I‘ve yet to see the Matterhorn! No photos from up on the hill yet, but some from around the village showing the fresh snow that’s fallen in the last 24 hours.

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The advanced teaching course is going well, but challenging all my group to think hard about their teaching strategies. Each day we are set a specific teaching scenario - sometimes we have time to prepare a lesson plan, other times you have to respond not the spot perhaps with just a ride not he chairlift to think about what you will do in the demo session. We’re also observing very closely other people delivering their teaching sessions, and have to provide detailed feedback on strengths and weaknesses and how the sessions could be improved. We’re all feeling the pressure and unsure if we’re going to pass.

By Day 3 the weather changes for the better and I finally get to see the Matterhorn. It is simply stunning and draws the eye no matter what you are looking at!

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End of the week and after lots of pressure and anxiety I’m told I’ve passed with good grades. Very pleased and a relieved! It was a long and tough week, but I’ve learned a lot so pleased all round. It’s also been my first visit to Zermatt and I’m impressed. The village is amazing: a mix of very old traditional buildings and upscale modern hotels. It’s car-free, although not traffic-free as dozens of electric taxis dart around the place. Several times I thought my time was up as I nearly got run over by the equivalent of a milk-float on steroids.

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The weather gods were in a playful mood this week. What they gave with one hand, they took back with the other. Plentiful snow, but bitterly cold temperatures. When I arrived there was no snow at resort level, but in the first couple of days it snowed heavily, with more than 50cm falling around the village and more at altitude. By mid-week the skies had cleared a little to be replaced by low temperatures: -25º at Klein Matterhorn one morning, on a day when we spent most of the time teaching snowploughs. I can’t remember ever having been that cold before!

Our evening lectures were held in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, one of the nicest hotels in the resort. It was a somewhat unusual venue for BASI courses, and I sometimes wondered if I was required to dress up in collar and tie!

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At the end of the week there is celebrating to be done by many and some commiserating by a few, so come Friday evening it was time to defrost and celebrate. Starting off at GramPi’s for the very funny and talented Marco singing some of the worst songs in the world, then to Nelly’s until the early hours for rather too many drinks and dancing to Eddie Jordan’s band (yes, the guy from Formula 1). A great evening all round.

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Overall a wonderful week, and I’ll be very happy to ski again in Zermatt, especially if I don’t have the pressure of being assessed while I‘m there.

Rob Rees, December 2009