I have planned to observe Jo today. She is a new member of staff at my fitness club. Previous to that she was a teacher but with no gym instruction experience, although she has many years teaching experience in the public sector. She excelled herself in her job interview and is now progressing towards becoming a fully qualified Gym Instructor.
I have planned to observe her conducting a gym-based session with a client in the gym. We had agreed for this to be completed on a set date and time and with confirmation from her client that they were able to make this date. Both Jo and I signed off the agreement form for this assessment to take place.
Prior to this assessment, I gave Jo a copy of the observation checklist that I would be using for this assessment. The checklist consisted of the standards that I will be observing for both the planning and the delivery/teaching of the session. In particular I drew her attention to the observation ‘key’ that I will be using to mark off against the standards as to whether Jo was competent (tick) or not competent (cross) in her practices. If I needed to make a comment against any particular standard, I would mark that with a ‘C’ or if I wanted to ask a question, I would mark that standard with a ‘Q’. I also explained to Jo that the final result of a pass or a referral I would indicate at the end of this checklist. In preparation for this assessment, I gave Jo copies of the feedback and question forms that I will be using for this assessment. To ensure that Jo was fully prepared for this assessment, I also explained to her that I would need her to complete a self-evaluation on her performance at the end of the assessment. I also requested from Jo that prior to the assessment on the day, I will need to review the exercise programme that she had completed for her client and that it was appropriate to the SMART goals of the client.
Today, I met up with Jo and her client in the gym. I introduced myself to the client and then I conducted a 1-2-1 briefing with Jo away from the gym area and not within the hearing of the client, explaining what I will be looking for and hearing. During this briefing I checked the exercise programme that Jo had put together for her client and for the purpose of this assessment. I also checked and marked off, all the other documentation that I expected to see, to ensure that this was her own work and that it is valid, authentic, current and sufficient (VARCS) for the qualification. I then went through the observation checklist highlighting and bringing to Jo’s attendance the more technical standards in this document. I also explained to her that there is an Appeals procedure that she can follow, should she disagree with my final decisions. I also mentioned to Jo for her to ensure that all health and safety requirements were met for the assessment. I asked Jo if she needed any additional support requirements, which she stated she had not. Finally, and before the assessment commenced, I confirmed with her that she fully understood the details of the assessment and I asked her if she had any questions or concerns.
I then let Jo commence the assessment with an introduction to her client and an explanation on what the exercise programme consisted of. Jo also confirmed with the client her current health status and recorded this on a PAR-Q which both persons signed off and dated. Music in the gym was of a reasonable level and the gym was fairly busy, which then allowed me to remain unobtrusive to Jo and her client. It was now my turn to demonstrate my professionalism in observing the assessment, avoiding being in the eye-line of Jo and her client, remaining unobtrusive yet able to hear and see what was developing in the exercise programme. I have always made a conscious effort to avoid interrupting anyone during an assessment unless health and safety was being compromised and this assessment was no exception. I know that Jo was a little nervous for this assessment and that is a point I will consider in my final decision. I managed to conduct the entire practical assessment holistically, all the time writing points and notes on my checklist, which I had supported on a clipboard that enabled me to still observe Jo and her client sufficiently for me to make a full record of the assessment.
I made a note that during this assessment, a gym member exercising in the gym and who clearly knew Jo, approached her for a chat. Jo quickly and quietly explained what was happening and politely said to the gym member that she would meet up with him later. She handled this situation very well, well done Jo.
After about 1 hour, the exercise session came to an end and Jo went through a few points from the session with her client and asked for feedback on how the client felt. The client then left the gym, leaving Jo and I to conclude the feedback assessment in a private 1-2-1 area. We went into the gym office where I made Jo feel at ease and explained to her immediately that she had passed the practical assessment. I know from experience that by providing my final decision immediately at the start of the feedback session can have its problems, especially when I tell someone that they have referred in the practical assessment. But this is part of my job as an assessor having to make judgements and to justify those decisions on paper whilst managing any difficulties or disputes. The feedback that I had written down, I delivered to Jo in a ‘praise sandwich manner’ providing good points where I saw and heard evidence appropriate to the standards, followed by points of development, with justification and setting learning/development targets, then finally concluding the feedback session with positive points for Jo to take away. I then asked Jo if she had any questions, which she did not have and I then asked her if she agreed with my decisions, which she did, and explained to her that my report will be on her file at work, and as evidence towards her Gym Instructor qualification.
I then went to my office to write up my full report, for filing and for evidence towards Jo’s qualification. The feedback that I wrote, I cross referenced that to the performance criteria/standards on the observation checklist and the final overall result clearly shown, then signed and dated the report.
I am aware that Assessors play a critical and pivotal role in ensuring compliance and quality standards in various industries, and their day-to-day tasks reflect the specific requirements of their area of expertise, particularly in the health, fitness and well-being sector. I then completed a self-evaluation form of my own performance and where I felt I needed to improve in my role as an Assessor. I do tend to find that during a practical assessment I want to get more involved in discussions, but I am fully aware of the need for not interrupting the assessment and being entirely professional as an Assessor, a job I take very seriously.