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Best student you ever had!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Got a story?  Did you ever get a student who surprised you and you've recalled that lesson many times with pleasure?  Was there ever a student you taught who took everything you gave them and ran with it, stretching you to your limits in keeping up with their hunger for more?  How about a group... did you ever get a group that outshone all other groups you've ever taught?  Did you ever teach a lesson to someone so quirky (in a good way) that the memory has stayed with you for years?  What's your best student story?

post #2 of 22

I guess this isn't quite the same question, but it's pretty close - http://www.epicski.com/t/109934/most-tallented-student-youve-taught

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

Yup.  I forgot about that thread.  It's a good one.

Any new stories anyone wants to add here?

post #4 of 22

I'm a little bit opposite point of view then most of the posters on that other thread.  Of course its always nice to have a ballerina or talented athlete that basically catches on really quick and with the new technology can easily get into great movements and fairly high level skiing very quickly.  Not to take away from the instructors in any way, but really aside from the "wow" factor of "wow I wish I could learn that quickly"...... so what.  

 

I had a semi pro waterskier once who latched right onto concept and was releasing his downhill ski into parallel turns within an hour.  Ok, I am proud I knew what to tell him which he latched right onto, but really he deserves all the credit for being the athlete he was.  Was he the best student?  He did it without hardly trying.

 

On the other hand, an example comes to mind, and there have been many like this, where I had this little kid private, and all morning was a test of patience, scared to try anything, scared to slide, etc.  We had a break through moment where he looked me in the eyes with an expression on his face like he just found the holy grail of eternal life and yelled

 

    "I did it!"  

 

And for him that was a major breakthrough, a major light bulb, perhaps an epiphany and perhaps a skier for life.  Those moments to me and there have been many...are what its really all about...the talent of the individual can make for some "wow, I wish I could have learned that fast" moments, but aside from that...  those amazing breakthroughs at any level are what its all about.

post #5 of 22

That's why I said it's not really the same question - most talented doesn't necessarily mean "best student".

post #6 of 22

I did the 4 day ski instruction intro course, and then a client needed someone to teach paralegal subjects for a few hours a week to a mix of high school drop outs, Somali refugees and mature aged people. Never having taught before, I found the bits n pieces from that instruction course really useful. And the Somalis came in the top two thirds of the State.

post #7 of 22

Back in 1981 I was teaching at the Arizona Snow Bowl and had a private lesson with a first time skier, the guy was in his mid 20s and was a bare foot water skier, by the end of the lesson we were skiing the blue slopes like someone who had been skiing for years!

post #8 of 22

It's been a long, long time since I've taught skiing, but since I am one of the more senior engineers on staff at my workplace, I do a fair amount of "teaching / mentoring".

 

At any rate, my favorite students are those who aren't afraid to ask me one of the simplest questions:  "why?"

 

Anybody curious enough to know how the piece they're working on fits into the overall -- they're a keeper.

post #9 of 22

My two favorite were two surprises.  One wasn't skiing though.  The first one was Walker from Tennessee.  The family comes up every year for a week or two to visit other family.  He was four and the day before had a melt down in the mini radicals program.  I was about a week post graduating from CS1 and they were short staff to take him out.  It was supposed to be a free ski day for me but I figured I spent the money and time on the course, might as well put it to work.  He could already ski but only in a wedge, wouldn't turn and fell over to stop.  This was his second day on skis this season. He wanted to go up the lift so I made a deal; link turns and stop by turning uphill first.

 

We worked together with only two 10-15 minute breaks to warm up and he did this right before the class was to end;

 

 

I made a deal so I took him up the lift even though I knew we would be late returning him.  He likes playing soccer so all the way do I had him chase me like he would a soccer ball.  I was skiing backwards going from side to side and now and again turn uphill to stop. Made one run and took him back to the mini's race course and he did this and skied right to his waiting parents:

 

 

I worked with him almost every day the rest of the week and he skied well enough for me to take him to the Summit.  His skis were only wedging on blues and he was a blast to work with.  They're suppose to come back this season and I hope I get to work with him again.

 

My other favorite was teaching my big sister to swim.  She's 13 years older than me and I never knew she had two near drowning incidents before I was born.  At 66 she would go in her pool but hadn't put her face in the water since she was a kid.  I had no idea of this until this past year.  All the rest of us were junior lifeguards and lifeguards.  I was even a Combat Water Safety Swimmer in the Corps and a PADI SCUBA instructor.  My brothers were both on the HS swim team.  My dad in his younger days was a water polo coach.  It seemed bazaar to me she couldn't swim and be in the same family.  I gave her some drills to do ahead of time starting with; standing in the shower and letting the water run on her face a little longer each time.  She never did this.  Her fear was so strong, she had only washed her face at the sink since she was a kid.  We went through a process similar to Stepping Stones with the only rule being; she controlled everything.  I gave her recommendations and suggestions and she would tell me what she wanted to do next.  She owned when we started and finished.  90 minutes later she swam the length of her pool doing (her version of) the breast stroke.  Her face coming out of the water only for a breath.

 

Those two lessons were the most fulfilling ever!  Walker because I was able to accomplish something that everyone else was shying away from and the parents didn't think could happen in a couple hours.  And how could helping some one you love as much as a big sister not affect you when you help them over come a fear they've been carrying for 55 years.

 

I will also always remember "Kansas Kate".  She's a nurse from Boston that that grew up in Kansas and now worked with cancer patients .  Her "friends" took her on trails she had no business being on.  She had a bad wipe out.  Was scared more than hurt.  So much so she called home to Kansas in tears and her mom gave her the get back on the horse talk.   She came to snow sports for a lesson determined not to let it get the best of her.  I figured any one that worked with cancer patients all week long and how hard that must be, deserved to be able to have fun without fear and frustration.  We started with the basics and worked back up to her being able to ski blue trails in control and enjoying it.  At the end we stayed a little bit longer working on what to do when you're on a trail you shouldn't be (she still had to ski with her friends).  We went through the math of traversing and how the steepness goes away, the value of turning uphill, and how to side slip.  She went back to her friends with a big smile on her face and confidence restored.

 

That's why I put up with sh!t pay and stupid SAM rules.  I get to do stuff like that every weekend.


Edited by L&AirC - 9/14/13 at 4:23am
post #10 of 22

Supervising a high school program on the first day.  Broke up the classes and out floating to make sure things were working, and students were in the right groups.  

 

Caught up to the advanced class and those kids absolutely owned the instructor.  They were friends who were just too cool, and too good, to learn anything. My guy had lost control of the situation (he was a good instructor, but these kids wouldn't even listen) it really was like herding cats.  I moved in with them and asked the instructor to just go with it, we were going to try to put the train back on the tracks.  

 

I told the boys they were right, and just too good of skiers for us to teach anything to.  They did agree it would be okay to just ski together for a couple hours though since we all had to be there, and the game was on.  Had them all behind me and dropped off a traverse into some heavily wind blown snow with a breakable crust; went about 50 yards and waited for boys to pick themselves up after their various yard sales.  Had my instructor skiing in the rear to keep our little team of pirates going in the same direction, they all survived.  

 

 Asked our would be World Cup guys, if they would like to be able to ski in snow like that?  They agreed that could be useful at some point in the future.  Traversed them out of the junk, and my guy was back in control.  These kids could ski, just not as well as they thought they could.  Made it a point of spending some time with that class every week for the rest of the program.  This is not a suggested teaching method but it worked at that moment with that group. Not the greatest students but one of the most memorable lessons.

 

We all learned a lot that day about skiing teaching and regaining control of a situation.  Two of the boys in that group taught for us the next season.  

post #11 of 22
One of my favorites from the 1970s is the gal who was so afraid she wouldn't even approach the ski school meeting place. The boss pointed her out, standing alone maybe 100 yards away, and said, "there's your lesson." As I approached, I could see tears rolling down her cheeks. She was a middle-aged, slightly out of shape woman who was a bigwig in some corporation--someone told me later she was known as "tough as nails." She told me she'd wanted to try skiing since she was a kid, but had always been fearful about it. So we walked around in boots, put a boot into a binding, slid around on one ski, put the ski on the other foot, got onto two skis--all still on the flats--did some more walking, side-stepped up a very short and slight rise, slid back down that rise, did it again with a little wedge, found a longer rise, etc. After an hour or so, we made it to the lift to a really long, but very flat, beginner slope, and she was on her way. She came back the next day and the third, when she told me she'd purchased a condo at the ski hill.
post #12 of 22
I'm impressed by the patience exhibited by the instructors in these stories.
post #13 of 22

Two lessons come to mind:

 

Copper Mountain four years ago.  Private lesson purchased by a 19-year-old female Romanian gymnast.  Never been on skis.  Started at 10 AM.  By 2 PM, she was skiing with me in bumps, trees and carving.  Instructors eyes light up when they are told, "Oh, I'm a hockey player," or "I'm a gymnast/dancer!"

 

Also, not a student, but an event:  Nine years ago, cruising with a group of intermediate-level skiers on a groomer.  Saw every skier in front of us going past one spot on the trail and snapping their heads around as if on a swivel.  Got to that spot with the group and saw the attraction: a photo shoot with three topless models on skis off to the side of the trail.  Not your typical mountain vista!

 

Oh, and then there were Mandi and Brandi, the two exotic dancers from Houston...


Edited by mike_m - 9/14/13 at 8:46am
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

Bittersweet memory:

 

I once had a three hour lesson (long for New England) with a 6 year old girl.  Her father dropped her off, explaining she was afraid and wouldn't make turns; he wanted me to teach her to turn so that she would ski in control when they skied together.  So off we went, this little shy girl and I.  I got her to follow me making turns on the beginner slope, then we talked about imaginary lanes in the snow and practiced skiing narrow and wide lanes.  It was obvious she could make turns, but choosing how to do that was totally new to her.  The concept of "downhill" was a bit difficult on this wide slope we were working on.  

 

Next time I had her choose a tree to ski down to, and asked her to choose how wide a lane she'd like to ski in as she made her way over there.  She was to look uphill to check for traffic first, go when ready, stick to her lane, and stop at the tree.  This little lady was very serious about doing this and with great deliberation skied to tree after tree, varying the width of the lane and always looking uphill before heading out.  She owned that hill, and knew it.  Half way through the lesson I pointed out some reasonable bumps that had formed on a run linking two trails.  I explained how people make turns through bumps, and led her down.  This was the coolest thing for her.   We went back up and did it again, this time with her choosing her path, bump to bump.  We did bumps for the rest of the lesson.  She was totally in control of her skiing, very confident about her skills, and delighted with her new skills.  Still in a wedge, but who cares?

 

When her dad came to pick her back up, she visibly shrank and became the shy frightened kid she had been at the start of the lesson.  Dad was not interested in hearing anything from me either about how well she was skiing.  He seemed upset that his ski day was ruined by having to do child care.  Sad.  

post #15 of 22
I taught a stunningly beautiful and exceptionally talented soap star who went from never ever to skiing smooth blacks in three days. Sadly her husband refused to ski with her because he was too good. At the end of their vacation he went home and she stayed two more weeks. It was a lot of fun to ski with her during those two weeks.
I still don't understand why he would bring her along on a ski vacation and never ski with her.
post #16 of 22

Last season, my first as an instructor, I had a weekly class of 4-5-6 year olds, most of them never-evers on the first day. For the first few weeks a student was added to my class since they weren't keeping up with their original group.  There was one girl who wasn't listening or paying much attention, she seemed to want to shuffle her skis in little back and forth steps, and was still using the harness (I would have another instructor or cadet help me with the class).  I had not used the harness before and was not liking how it pulled the student backwards.  I ditched the harness and skied backwards in front of her to support her.  Then I created some space and had her ski towards me, I had her hold up her hands and bounce off my hands. My mittens became her target. It became a game for her and she was more motivated to keep her own balance to reach me.  I increased the distance.  I incorporated turns and she was able to copy my wedges and straight runs (I was backwards so facing her I was able to see what she was doing and give her immediate feedback as needed) .  

 

She quickly was able to keep up with the rest of the class.  My TD was the one assisting my class that day and we later talked about how well that worked, how it helped the student keep her weight upright and forward rather than pulled backwards, and how it helped keep her hands up and in front of her, and absorb with the bouncing off my hands.  The TD also mentioned this to the ski school owner.  In subsequent weeks I got one-on-one time with the 2-3 remaining students who had still been using a harness.  By the time the classes ended my class had expanded from 3 students to 8 and I was getting some private lessons as well.

 

All pretty much because I hate using the harness and this little girl loved the game of pursuing and pushing off my hands.


Edited by DesiredUsername - 9/14/13 at 6:57pm
post #17 of 22

Back when I was a full time instructor, I taught a lot of the seasonal kids in my mountain's 4-7 year old program. I had one little guy in my lessons almost every single weekend. He was five, and he wasn't exactly an angel, but he was endearing in his own way. However, he was struggling with getting his inside ski on its uphill edge, and getting out of a wedge. I tried tactic after tactic, and he wasn't having any of it. This was happening for the better part of a month and a half. He was getting extremely frustrated, and it came out in his behaviors during lessons. Being much younger and less experienced as I am now, I was frustrated as well, and it probably showed in my demeanor. Needless to say, it created a difficult lesson dynamic. At the end of the day, I could tell he hadn't had fun. After a few of those lessons, I was considering asking my supervisor to not assign him into my classes. Then, one morning in mid-February, I did a little drill with the class while we were standing still, just moving both knees uphill to engage edges. Suddenly, this little guy did it. He moved his inside ski from the downhill edge to the uphill edge, and stood there in a perfect parallel stance. I started jumping up and down and shouting "That's it! That's it! You got it! Just like that, do that while you're skiing!!" He looked at me like I'd gone nuts, because in his mind at this point, I'm sure I was the mean guy. We started skiing again, and lo and behold, he laid that inside ski over onto its outside edge, and engaged some parallel turns. I was beside myself I was so excited, and I was heaping praise on him, and going on about how awesome he was doing. Suddenly, he went from the sullen, bored kid to excited, happy, and laughing. From that point to the end of the season, he would beg to be in my classes, and we had a great time.

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

Bittersweet memory:

 

I once had a three hour lesson (long for New England) with a 6 year old girl.  Her father dropped her off, explaining she was afraid and wouldn't make turns; he wanted me to teach her to turn so that she would ski in control when they skied together.  So off we went, this little shy girl and I.  I got her to follow me making turns on the beginner slope, then we talked about imaginary lanes in the snow and practiced skiing narrow and wide lanes.  It was obvious she could make turns, but choosing how to do that was totally new to her.  The concept of "downhill" was a bit difficult on this wide slope we were working on.  

 

Next time I had her choose a tree to ski down to, and asked her to choose how wide a lane she'd like to ski in as she made her way over there.  She was to look uphill to check for traffic first, go when ready, stick to her lane, and stop at the tree.  This little lady was very serious about doing this and with great deliberation skied to tree after tree, varying the width of the lane and always looking uphill before heading out.  She owned that hill, and knew it.  Half way through the lesson I pointed out some reasonable bumps that had formed on a run linking two trails.  I explained how people make turns through bumps, and led her down.  This was the coolest thing for her.   We went back up and did it again, this time with her choosing her path, bump to bump.  We did bumps for the rest of the lesson.  She was totally in control of her skiing, very confident about her skills, and delighted with her new skills.  Still in a wedge, but who cares?

 

When her dad came to pick her back up, she visibly shrank and became the shy frightened kid she had been at the start of the lesson.  Dad was not interested in hearing anything from me either about how well she was skiing.  He seemed upset that his ski day was ruined by having to do child care.  Sad.  

 

Good for you for making a truly great connection with that girl. The last line about the dad was one of the saddest things I have read on Epic, hopefully she can keep the memeory of the fun you had together to get her through what will inevitably be miserable times with him.

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbowler View Post
 

 

Good for you for making a truly great connection with that girl. The last line about the dad was one of the saddest things I have read on Epic, hopefully she can keep the memeory of the fun you had together to get her through what will inevitably be miserable times with him.

 

Yep.  Parents have no idea how much we see in our short periods of connection with them.  

post #20 of 22

I ski with the local town's old school teacher, short little Mrs B. In the lift lines, the parents and the cool kids (now young adults) still do as they're told if she catches them swearing or jumping the lift line ;). Maybe they think she carries a tazer or a big stick.

post #21 of 22

The best was definitely the 4-year-old girl who spontaneously declared it to be the "BEST DAY EVER!" in the middle of our private lesson.

 

I feel like one of the better technical things I did with a student was a lesson with a middle-aged woman -- she was a chaperone for one of the school groups that would come in on a weekly basis, and the chaperones could take free lessons if they wanted to.  She was just starting out - maybe her second or third lesson - and was still on the bunny hill, and really having a tough time.  She was scared, shaky, trying to force the turns.  Kept getting flustered and stopping after every turn or two, which totally killed her momentum and was making everything much tougher.  I had her focus on skiing slow and controlled but not stopping, and she cruised right down the hill without a hitch.  That one felt good.

 

On the other hand, in my first year I had a middle-aged woman who said she was scared to ski on the blue trails and wanted to work on that.  I suggested we should start the lesson on easier terrain and then work up to the harder trails, but she insisted she wanted to go right to the intermediate trails.  She was really nervous, and I tried to work on various things with her to make her more comfortable with the pitch/speed.  I thought she was doing well, but apparently I literally put her in the Scotch Zone after the lesson (if you've read Mermer Blakeslee's book).  Oops.

post #22 of 22
Hey all. Best student definitely doesn't equate to most talented student. I think it's a two way thing. This year I taught an older lady, probably late 50s, she could barely snow plough turn and was getting very frustrated saying stuff like "maybe I'm just too old for this". she was quite a fit and atheletic lady and seemed reasonably coordinated when I first saw her as part of a group lesson.
After 3 days of group leassons, where I stayed as the instructor, she was off the beginners runs and enjoying the advanced green easy blues with nice Christie turns.
She was over joyed, I was very happy and was probably my most rewarding teaching for the Aussie season.
She'll be back to my resort next year and wants to take me out for privates. She went out of her way to hand write a thank you note to the ski school expressing her delight.

She's jus one, but I think instructors that take the pleasure from the enjoyment of their clients, most students are great. - though with that said I've had a few rough days smile.gif
Now looking forward to the US season and clients.
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