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How honest are instructors with parents?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

My daughter just started her muliweek this weekend, I had a little trouble deciding what level to put her in as she seems kinda between levels.  I was a little worried I had her in too low a level when I picked her up, as the instructor heaped some pretty effusive praise on her.  I understand that instructors will likely over emphasize the positive (what kind of tips would you get handing the kid back to a parent with "Sir, I'm sorry but your kid just flat out sucks, don't let them walk and chew gum at the same time").  However he  seemed to go beyond that level of required nicety at checkout - significantly more so than what I heard about the other students from him to the other parents while waiting our turn.

I was reassured she would be ok when I asked her how the class went.  She said it was good, one girl was bumped to a lower level because "she was holding the rest of us back."  I asked if she was the best/strongest skier in the class, and she replied without hesitation "Nope, there were two kids better than me...for now."  She is usually pretty good about that kind of self-evaluation, so I am sure she will be plenty challenged where she is.

 

Soo..

How honest do you instructors tend to be when reporting to parents?

 

Am I the only parent to get a little worried about "too good" a report

post #2 of 24

Instructors are people.  They all believe they are being honest...but honesty means different things to different people. 

 

The only thing you should worry about is if your daughter is having fun.  Somthing I learned long ago, if people love to ski, they will get good at it.  If they hate it, they wont.

post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Instructors are people.  They all believe they are being honest...but honesty means different things to different people. 

 

The only thing you should worry about is if your daughter is having fun.  Somthing I learned long ago, if people love to ski, they will get good at it.  If they hate it, they wont.


what he said + I'd say that it depends on the instructor, but I wouldn't be too fussed unless it seems your daughter didn't enjoy it. 

 

post #4 of 24

Instructors like to get nice $ tips and they don't earn any extra for being overly honest where the truth might hurt .  They're going to try to sugar coat things if they can rather than being the bearer of bad news in many situations.  I'd trust what the kid tells me after the lesson out of the instructors sight more than I would trust what the instructor said in front of everybody or even without the kid in earshot.

 

Regardless, it is most important that the kid likes the teacher more than how great they are at providing feedback unless we're talking about a competitive coaching level. At the more basic level, most decent resort instructors are competent and usually pretty good, especially with kids.  The important thing is that the kids enjoy the experience, improve, and thus want to come back and ski more with dad!biggrin.gif


Edited by crgildart - 1/9/12 at 1:36pm
post #5 of 24

I am normally sm straight up honest. While trying to focus on on the good. In case where that did not work for me I have resorted to Video which does not lie.

 

My goals for every lesson are the same.

 

Keep kids safe

set it up so they have fun

and then hopefully they learn something

 

In kids groups lessons the last part can be hard and incorrect assement of students skills make it even harder.

 

the real truth to the OP question is probably this. If your daughter listened well and was fun to ski with the Ski instructor was probably geninuely happy to ski with her. She doesnt have to be 'best" in the class but just the most fun. but I coach this sport to make people happy and stoked on something. If they are happy and stoked I am probably going to be extra happy when I talk to the parents. If he did just for you and noone else that would be my best guess, that your daughter is just fun to ski with,

post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

The only thing you should worry about is if your daughter is having fun. 



QFT

 

Your daughter is probably cooler than most of the other kids. Attitude plus a little skill make for a great kid in class. I'd take the effusiveness as praise for your kids skiing as well as fun factor.

 

Don't sweat it. Next time seek them out and watch from a distance to see how it's going.

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

To those who rightly mention fun as the highest priority in kids ski instruction….I couldn’t agree more.  I left it out of the OP as there was an assumption on my part that the fact that she was having fun was a given.   She put her boots/skis on in October and was tromping around the basement, she lays out/packs all her clothes the night before and wears her baselayer as PJ’s.  She sets her own alarm for 5:30 and gets ME up.  After each lesson my first question to her used to be “Did you have fun?”  That ended when earlier this year I got a head cocked eyeroll  “Dad…it was SKIING….of course it was fun!”  Wasn’t thrilled about the head cocked eye-roll from a 7 y/o but I got the point…stopped asking (still ask after gymnastics/swimming/music etc).  Not to mention I have never seen her anything but rosy cheeked and grinning after a lesson.

 

To be clear I was not concerned (worried may have been to strong a word…worried is for “spots” on xrays) that she was NOT the best skier in her group, but that she WAS.  She is a very happy, enthusiastic and well-mannered little girl…but she is unbelievably competitive and can be lazy when she looks around and thinks she is the best of the group.  I wanted there to be at least one kid in her group that she could emulate and be challenged to do as well as.

 

I would agree with BWPA, I think the praise from the instructor was likely because she was happy, enthusiastic, and well mannered (Mom is a bit of a tiger mother about manners), not because she was a great skier.

 

/as an aside...I would assume it would be easier to be more blunt with an adult about their own skiing that about their kid's.  One of the reasons I did not go into pediatrics

 

 

post #8 of 24

Did you ask the instructor what level lesson your daughter should be in next time?

 

One might as well ask "How honest are parents with instructors?". The answer is essentially going to be the same: it depends. Some are truthful, some aren't and some are simply misguided (applies to both parents and instructors)

 

Personally, as a professional, I may have some skill at this teaching thing. But I can't get away with putting lipstick on a pig. I'm going to do my best to accentuate the positive in bad situations, but I'm going to be honest about it. Being honest is part of being a professional. Not all instructors are going to behave professionally. Another part of a being a professional is to get you excited about the sport. Some instructors may go overboard in this area, but most of us can spot lipstick on a pig.

 

I have a client who has a son that is a genius. The son is a joy to ski with but very difficult to teach. The athletic talent is there, but the risk management over rides the free expression of that talent. This is holding his progress back. Dad recognizes that son is not picking up sports with the same ease that Dad does. Dad's athletic skill acquisition is freaky off the charts. In our first few lessons, I honestly reported to Dad about the progress in each lesson. Last year Dad brought up the issue and we had a frank discussion. My opening comment in any of these discussions is that there are no bad students. It's my job to step up to these challenges. My next comment was that there were other pros at other mountains that might get better results and that I would be glad to recommend some, but that son may decide that he is going to progress on his own schedule no matter what ski god we get to coach him. Given the convenience of skiing local, we're going to keep trying. It's just going to take me a while longer to get a break through instead of incremental progress.

 

My little bro used to work in a jewelry store. He told me that he decided how much someone was going to pay the minute they walked into the store. No amount of haggling was going to get a lower price. Your child's instructor could have been like this (hustling for a tip) or the instructor could truly have been impressed with your daughter's performance. Fortunately you live with a truth telling machine. Or maybe your daughter paid off the instructor and it's all a big conspiracy? My advice is to just pat yourself on the back for being a smart ski parent who has a great ski daughter.

 

 

post #9 of 24

When a parent asks me how his kid is really doing I weigh this answer by the growth I see in the kids experience whether emotional , physical  or supernatural. If the kid is learning slowly but having one of the best times of his life then he is doing pretty well in our goal of serving the client before I serve the parent what they are hoping for. I have made him feel safe and have created a culture for learning. 

When lessons are over I give the parents an assessment of where the kid fits in as far as his progress towards higher level skiing. Where he is in the progression  and what he should continue to work on  , what they are currently putting mileage on and what is next  Then  encourage them to try to advance some by their own efforts on their own time

 

I do also accentuate the positive. Why wouldn't you? Isn't this supposed to be fun ?  Anyone who tries to ski is a  winner in my book.

post #10 of 24

I think all the instructors I know are quite honest.  Last year, one of our children's specialists told a parent very bluntly, "Do not bring your child back until he learns some basic manners.  I want nothing to do with a child that spits on me."  The parent spent at least 15  minutes apologizing for the nasty behavior of the kid and gave the instructor a $40 tip.  In general I think instructors are more honest about a child's progress than the parents are about their abilities.  I've seen parents bring their child to a lesson and say the kid can ski all over the mountain making parallel turns.  Then you get the kid out and find he/she can only make tentative wedge turns.  I had a parent tell me last year that her daughter was ready to go to the top of the mountain and that was what she expected me to do.  She was not pleased when she came back and found that this had not happened because not only was the child afraid she was nowhere near ready to take on the advanced runs at the top of the mountain.  I tried to explain that my first responsibility was the safety of her daughter but she was fairly angry I didn't do what she told me to do.  I sent her to talk with supervisor who had seen this girl ski and agreed with my assessment.

post #11 of 24

This can be a difficult situation for instructors.  Obviously they want to be positive, and they should never lie, but at the same time they have to acknowledge the parents expectations of the lesson.  Often parents inform the instructor what they think the child needs to work on and often it just isn't correct or appropriate given the kids ability, so often the instructor must find a way to relate what they actually did to what the parent had hoped would happen. 

 

Another concern of mine is retention.  I have many lessons where we make a good deal of progress, and I try to hammer it into my students head that once the lesson is over they have to keep working on what we learned or it isn't going to help, and I try to pound it into the parents head as well what they should focus on with the child, and I just hope the kid gets it so the parent isn't watching him/her ski and wondering what the hell I was talking about.  This is especially true after shorter private lessons.  I notice a big difference in their skiing when they are with me, but I have my doubts about how much it has become engrained after only an hour. 

post #12 of 24

Multi-weeks. Week one is always a bit chaotic. At the end of the lesson when parents ask ( a number of their kids have been in the program for 2 or 3 years and have formed family friendships that have expanded ski trips, etc..) , they largely wanted to know what we covered in the lesson, where we skied, how the group was, if their children were keeping up, etc. If there are any issues, I speak to individual parents and am both frank and positive. If someone has something to work on, we tell them what it is. If one of our charges isn't able to follow the group, we most certainly would have found a more appropriate class as needed. Most parents appreciate this. Sometimes you'll run into a parent who overestimates their children's ability and has difficulty accepting a step down, but if it's problematic, the supervisor will back the instructor's observation. From our point of view at the level we're teaching, establishing a good group dynamic is very important. We had no stragglers were able to move our group around the mountain establishing a nice pace, rhythm, and great energy for the lesson of the day while setting a great precedent for the following weeks. All said and done, if the kids are pooped and laying on on the snow with a smile on their face at the end of the lesson, it's been a great day! Bonus? I'm sure I had every bit as much fun as they did! To the OP, it sounds like your daughter might be one of those kids in a group that really helps the class come together. From the instructors point of view, it is indeed a joy to have this type of kid in the group. Even if she is the best in the group, you can bet she's still watching the instructor and comparing herself to them.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

Did you ask the instructor what level lesson your daughter should be in next time?

 

No, I wanted to talk with my daughter before making a decision, and after talking with her I was comfortable with where she was.

 

My little bro used to work in a jewelry store. He told me that he decided how much someone was going to pay the minute they walked into the store. No amount of haggling was going to get a lower price. Your child's instructor could have been like this (hustling for a tip) or the instructor could truly have been impressed with your daughter's performance. Fortunately you live with a truth telling machine. Or maybe your daughter paid off the instructor and it's all a big conspiracy? My advice is to just pat yourself on the back for being a smart ski parent who has a great ski daughter.

 

So...I'm a mark?smile.gif  I was wearing a two year old bright yellow DNA jacket, cheap black marmot pants, and was sporting 2 year old dynastar sultans with a fair amount of topsheet damage (I left the Bogner stuff in France wink.gif).  You can look at my profile pics but I don't know that I look particularly "mark worthy" (but who would think they do?).  I am not being defensive/snarky, just curious if there is something I am putting off (vibe from my posts or obvious physical/clothing thing).  The instructor struck me as more of a Patch Adams on skis than a smooth dirty rotten scoundrel (on the other hand a good hustle would by definition NOT be obvious).  If there was some element of hustle there, it could have backfired as I was considering moving daughter out/up from his group.  Bottom line:  I think she has a good instructor, is having fun, and is in an appropriate level group.  Looking forward the the mornings skiing alone while she is in the multiweek, and the afternoons together.

 

 


/couldn't figure out how to quote and split a single post when replying....hence the multicolored thing above

 

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ View Post

When a parent asks me how his kid is really doing I weigh this answer by the growth I see in the kids experience whether emotional , physical  or supernatural.


Ummm...what is supernatural growth?  I'm picturing talking with ghosts, shooting fire from eyes, controlling the elements (snow on demand..yaaay!), but I assume that is not what you meant.

 

//EDIT:

not ragging on you Garry but the phrase "supernatural growth" has given me a brain worm.  I am sure you meant something reasonable like harmony with nature, but while showering I had the following vision:

 

Daughter and I are getting hot chocolate in the lodge.  She is carrying on a conversation with the spirit of Shane McConkey trying to convince him that Justin Bieber is a great musician (he isn't buying).  We walk out to the lift and she smites with eye-fire a few goobers blocking the lift line trying to figure out how to put on their gear.  We ride the lifts to the summit, where she raises her arms and intones (this kind of thing must be intoned, not just spoken) "By the power of some unpronounceable, forgotten,long ago and possibly completely made up by an SF writer semi-deity I command.....SNOW!"  Followed by a 2 foot dump.


Edited by Alveolus - 1/9/12 at 9:10pm
post #15 of 24

I try to be as honest as possible. Every negative is surrounded by positives. I talk about what skills they have, what they need to work on, and any challenges we may have encountered during the lesson. I don't compare their child to others in the lesson. I focus on the facts. If their next instructor does the same, the parents will receive consistent and real feedback, not hype in an effort to receive a tip. I also ask the kids in the last five minutes of the day with what was your favorite parts of the lesson. This brings positive answers and reminds them of the fun times. A lot of kids that have had a great day will be very introverted to these questions and sound like it was just OK. 

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post


Ummm...what is supernatural growth?  I'm picturing talking with ghosts, shooting fire from eyes, controlling the elements (snow on demand..yaaay!), but I assume that is not what you meant.

 

//EDIT:

not ragging on you Garry but the phrase "supernatural growth" has given me a brain worm.  I am sure you meant something reasonable like harmony with nature, but while showering I had the following vision:

 

Daughter and I are getting hot chocolate in the lodge.  She is carrying on a conversation with the spirit of Shane McConkey trying to convince him that Justin Bieber is a great musician (he isn't buying).  We walk out to the lift and she smites with eye-fire a few goobers blocking the lift line trying to figure out how to put on their gear.  We ride the lifts to the summit, where she raises her arms and intones (this kind of thing must be intoned, not just spoken) "By the power of some unpronounceable, forgotten,long ago and possibly completely made up by an SF writer semi-deity I command.....SNOW!"  Followed by a 2 foot dump.


It's all cool. I think you understand when you see the light of pure excitement and inspiration shine from them. It's that next level of enlightenment they find in skiing. I couldn't find a term I liked to describe it. We all know the feelings.

 

post #17 of 24

Sure the instructor isn't going to fall on the ground in front of you laughing  "man you got anymore of these around for us to watch them do the funky chicken?"

 

You asked your daughter and she told you...."they moved one kid to a lower group as not to hold up our group, enough said was a great answer from your child. If required on a multi week program , kids are moved to higher or lower groups.

Yup she is in the right level

post #18 of 24


Great answear !!!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post


Ummm...what is supernatural growth?  I'm picturing talking with ghosts, shooting fire from eyes, controlling the elements (snow on demand..yaaay!), but I assume that is not what you meant.

 

//EDIT:

not ragging on you Garry but the phrase "supernatural growth" has given me a brain worm.  I am sure you meant something reasonable like harmony with nature, but while showering I had the following vision:

 

Daughter and I are getting hot chocolate in the lodge.  She is carrying on a conversation with the spirit of Shane McConkey trying to convince him that Justin Bieber is a great musician (he isn't buying).  We walk out to the lift and she smites with eye-fire a few goobers blocking the lift line trying to figure out how to put on their gear.  We ride the lifts to the summit, where she raises her arms and intones (this kind of thing must be intoned, not just spoken) "By the power of some unpronounceable, forgotten,long ago and possibly completely made up by an SF writer semi-deity I command.....SNOW!"  Followed by a 2 foot dump.



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Multi-weeks. Week one is always a bit chaotic. At the end of the lesson when parents ask ( a number of their kids have been in the program for 2 or 3 years and have formed family friendships that have expanded ski trips, etc..) , they largely wanted to know what we covered in the lesson, where we skied, how the group was, if their children were keeping up, etc. If there are any issues, I speak to individual parents and am both frank and positive. If someone has something to work on, we tell them what it is. If one of our charges isn't able to follow the group, we most certainly would have found a more appropriate class as needed. Most parents appreciate this. Sometimes you'll run into a parent who overestimates their children's ability and has difficulty accepting a step down, but if it's problematic, the supervisor will back the instructor's observation. From our point of view at the level we're teaching, establishing a good group dynamic is very important. We had no stragglers were able to move our group around the mountain establishing a nice pace, rhythm, and great energy for the lesson of the day while setting a great precedent for the following weeks. All said and done, if the kids are pooped and laying on on the snow with a smile on their face at the end of the lesson, it's been a great day! Bonus? I'm sure I had every bit as much fun as they did! To the OP, it sounds like your daughter might be one of those kids in a group that really helps the class come together. From the instructors point of view, it is indeed a joy to have this type of kid in the group. Even if she is the best in the group, you can bet she's still watching the instructor and comparing herself to them.



 

post #19 of 24

So one time I told a father that his son had a listening disorder....

 

If the child had fun, learned something about skills, learned something about safety, maybe learned something about lift line or ski run courtesy, and didn't hold up the class nor had to wait for everyone else in the class, it sounds like the right group.  Some instructors are just effusive folks who are very positive. 

post #20 of 24

To respond to the original question: how honest are ski instructors with parents? - allow me to suggest that the feedback you get will be at least one notch better than reality - until you hit the outliers.  The kind of ebullient praise you got suggests (to me) that your daughter had something going on other than fine skiing.  Lots of things can make a kid stand out in an instructor's mind -concern about the welfare of others, infectious enthusiasm, cheerfulness, remarkable sense of humour or some other manifestation of unusual maturity.  None of this is a cause for worry or suspicion.

 

The stuff to pay attention to is the stuff that comes after "but...."

 

I had twins last year who really did not want to be in lessons or be with other kids.  They'd ski away from the group, do their own thing in the woods and obligate me to come looking for them or at least do a lot of waiting.  After some number of weeks of this, the mom met me, for the first time since multi-weeks started, and wanted to know how they were doing.  I was sorely tempted to say "you are wasting your money and that of several other parents by having them in this class - they are not the least bit interested in being here - please don't bring them back."   Instead I said, "they seem to really like skiing but they don't have much patience with structure of any kind."  She let me know that neither of the parents ski and that the only time the kids had on snow was lessons (two hours every week).  No wonder.  I wouldn't have much patience with class either if it represented 100% of the time I had on snow.  So I suggested to her that the biggest payoff for their future on snow would be providing plenty of time to ski OUTSIDE of class.  Not at all sure how the rest of that story went.

 

Another time I had a truly remarkable 7 year old who was quite possibly the most focused athlete I've ever come into contact with - a SCARY serious kid.  He could ski anywhere on our challenging mountain and do it quickly, too.  And he was willing to do any exercise on any terrain I asked him to.  But he didn't seem to be cleaning much of anything up, despite the fact that he would spend the entire weekend (outside of lessons) at the mountain with his dad for the duration of the season.  Dad wanted to know how he was doing.  I told dad that junior could benefit from spending a certain amount of time on less challenging terrain (they spent most of their time in the 'side country') in order to really solidify the skills we were working on in class.  Dad's response - "yeah, well I have a limited amount of time up here and I have to have fun, too."  So my guess is that they are both still happily hacking away at terrain that is too steep and challenging to ever allow either one of them to get any better. 

post #21 of 24

8 years instructing and going strong!

 

To answer the topic of this thread, it has been my experience that most instructors lie to parents.  I would say that only 20 to 30 percent of us tell the truth.  The reason why as I see it.

 

1)  Instructors are paid very poorly and they want a tip.

 

2)  Instructors don't want to be discouraging or negative.

 

3)  Instructors want and the resorts that employ them want all customers to have a good and happy experience.

 

 

The 20 to 30 percent of us that tell you the truth  ( I AM PROUDLY ONE OF THESE) want you and your kids and all clients to have as much fun as possible!  To achieve this for you and the other customers, we will tell you if your child was Bad, good, should not be allowed to take a class again in the current year ( usually because child was so disruptive they caused a safety hazard.  continuing that run on.......   we will  tell you what the child was good at, and how to improve upon the good and bad traits they exhibited.  etc.....

 

IF you  think your being brushed off or lied to, or you want more info,   QUESTION THE INSTRUCTOR on what your child should be working on to get better.

 

Finally remember that, (especially with young children) just having fun on the snow is a VICTORY!!!  Who cares if they learned much ???   Our motto goes   Safety, Fun, Learning   in that order

post #22 of 24

I can't say I would ever 'lie' to a parent -- and they will certainly hear about it (maybe from a supervisor, not me) if their kid is causing safety issues or running away from the group and not following directions.

 

But I always try to stay positive, especially since the kid is usually standing next to the parent when I'm talking to them!  I'll happily tell a parent what their kid is doing well and what they should keep working on.

post #23 of 24

post #24 of 24

To reiterate what many others have said, I don't lie to parents. Does that mean I tell them the entire truth, entirely unprompted? No. I'll tell you what skiing skills your child has progressed in, and what the next step in the process is. I'll tell you what skills he is struggling with, and try to give a possible remedy to work on. If your child was extremely enthusiastic or enjoyable to have in class, I'll tell you that, too. However, if your child had some minor behavioral issues, I'm not going to offer that information unsolicited. I work in behavioral health and education Monday through Friday, so I'm pretty good at recognizing and dealing with behaviors. However, people aren't spending large quantities of money for an unsolicited behavioral evaluation by a mountain employee who generally doesn't have the behavioral training I do. If the student was a significant safety issue, then you may have to talk to my supervisor about it. All that being said, I'm not going to lie to a parent. So if I'm asked how a child's behaviors were, I'll answer honestly.

 

If you want a thorough and honest picture of how your child is doing, be an active participant in the process. Ask questions. Be specific. Not only does that help gives you a better understanding about what's going on, it shows your child that you're interested in what they're doing.

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