Training to Assessment... making the most of your "Consolidation Period".
Navigating the minefield of prerequisites for an instructor assessment can be a real challenge. One of the biggest hurdles for many is working out what what you actually need to do rather than actually doing it. Hopefully these top tips will help you through the minefield...
1. Take on Feedback.
Feedback presents itself in a variety of ways; debriefs and discussions with course staff, peers and colleagues, noticing changes in your own practice / experiences, shifts in confidence and competence levels. All of these provide an opportunity to learn about ourselves and compare what is happening with our desired results. Some feedback is easier to accept at times, but remember that all of it has a place and it is up to us how we use it.
2. Measure competence over experience.
The experience requirements laid out for each award is based on what would usually be considered the minimum amount to reach the required level of competence; so look at it in a similar way - measure yourself by your competence against those required. (For Mountain Training Qualifications, use the scheme handbook, skills checklist and trainers and assessors guidance notes. Some folks will be able to execute a skill, utilise that knowledge and have the capacity to judge when best to apply it very quickly while others take more time / practice to build up to the required standard. Make time to purposefully practice skills such as attaching a prussic or interpreting slope shape so that you have a solid go to process for a number of situations.
3. Analyse your needs.
When you come away from a training course it’s really easy to get carried away with all the new ideas and information you have. Take some time to review all of your learning and things you need to do to ensure success. This can leave a huge to do list which may seem pretty intimidating, particularly after a few days of having loads of information thrown at you! Look at your new To Do list and identify which of your new ideas will make the biggest difference or a logical progression of development.
4. Make Practice Purposeful.
Remembering that practice makes permanent rather than perfect could be useful at this stage. Different things on your list will require different approaches. Use your feedback and awareness tobe really specific about what you are practicing and how (for example; just going climbing loads wont necessarily make you better at runner placements, but paying attention to every placement while climbing, each time trying to improve on the last will). This may mean practicing to drive out old habits and install new ones or practicing in new or different environments / conditions. Be willing to break down complex skills, isolate and practice small parts before rebuilding them.
5. Give yourself time.
Regularly, when formulating post training action plans with candidates, I find people initially setting themselves a time period to assessment; “I’m aiming for assessment in ..... months”. In some cases this is realistic. They key thing is setting your assessment date by measuring performance standard rather than time. It’s a common feature across assessments (in my experience) that candidates with the bare minimum experience are much more likely to defer than those with logbooks which exceed the minimum requirements, and in reality if you practice purposefully all the elements needed it's very likely you will, by default, meet the minimum requirements while feeling really well prepared since you have the evidence of your performance through reviewing your practice.
I hope these ideas are useful in helping you to prepare for assessment either by confirming what you already know or adding a few options. Above all remember to enjoy the journey.
If these ideas have been useful then do let us know and get in touch if you would like any support!