EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Exam Standards. What's easier, skiing or teaching?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Exam Standards. What's easier, skiing or teaching? - Page 2

post #31 of 41
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post

Instructor clinics are often very different than lessons. The Epic Ski Academies were great in that we were able to participate in lessons with very high level instructors.

Bob Barnes is a master of approaching things from so many different perspectives and challenging people to experiment and decide for themselves.

I have shadowed many different instructors and learn something from every one. Most of the lessons I observe are all day lessons as that is the norm where I work. It is fascinating to watch the integration of skills, skiing mileage and human dynamics that comprise a lesson. I wonder how much of that would translate through video.

The skills of a good editor would be important. smile.gif
post #32 of 41
Originally Posted by Adie View Post

Exactly markojp. Years ago I worked at one of the UKs many dry slopes. There was a fellow instructor there who was so creative and charismatic that I would go and watch his lessons whenever I could. I learned a huge amount from him and used many of his ideas to develop my own teaching. He is now a BASI 4 and trainer and runs a ski school in France.


The coaching sessions are fine but they're artificial. For example we're encouraged in the CSIA to keep our explanations down to just a few seconds. In the coaching sessions the explanations are often a couple of minutes as the audience is different. I'd like to see some expert practitioners condense particularly higher end feedback and development; manage inaccurate self perception; involve again higher end skiers in development and decision making; draw on their toolbox of exercises to address skill deficits; make their assessment of their clients etc. etc.  The potential value goes on and on.


As with almost anything we can learn from the experts doing things for real. In the same way I watch JF, Jonathan Ballou or Skinerds videos time after time and pick small things in their skiing that give clarity to the way my own skiing should be heading (albeit it at a much much lower level) I can gain ideas from a range of teaching approaches to develop my teaching.


I didn't expect "artificial."     

But I get your point.

post #33 of 41

Yes 'artificial' was a poor choice of words.

post #34 of 41
Originally Posted by FlyingFish View Post

Last week when I was doing the CSIA level 3 exam, one of the candidates said something interesting to me. She had previously passed the teaching on her first attempt, and that the teaching was "super easy."


However, I've also known people who have aced the skiing on the first go, then gotten mired in endless retests on the teaching part. 



So I guess the question to you, the collective braintrust of EpicSki would be, at the higher levels of certifications, which aspect of the exams is harder? Getting one's teaching up to that standard, or getting one's skiing dialed in? 


As stated earlier, it's really based on the person and their individual experiences and character traits.  For me, I'm praying that the Teaching part of certification for L2 comes easier than skiing.  My first attempt at Skiing was an all out fail.  At my second attempt last month I got "Meatloaf" ("...cuz 2 out of 3 ain't bad.").  I passed 2 of the 3 required modules; to include skiing icy bumps mind you, so I'm happy with the results.  It was all on me too.  I knew what I was supposed to do and just didn't do it.  No biggy, I'll do a reassessment and feel confident I can pass it.  I've only been an instructor since 2010 and took up skiing a couple years before that so I feel I'm doing fine.


I feel way more comfortable with my Teaching.  I have produced nice results in the seasonal program I coach and get great feedback from parents, fellow coaches and management and my fellow instructors have asked me to clinic them on things to help them with their skiing.  I've even been asked to work with their spouses.  They older students I've had (HS and up) have given me direct feedback indicating I'm doing it right.


I believe much of my comfort in Teaching comes from doing things like this for so long.  Not necessarily skiing but teaching and coaching.  The military will turn you into an instructor/coach whether you want it or not.  I've also been a SCUBA instructor, swim instructor, and a few other odds and ends.  Being comfortable out in front of even large groups helps (again, thanks to the Marine Corps for that), not to mention the countless presentations I've done at work, to small groups through packed auditoriums.  Somewhere along the way, I got pretty good and comfortable doing it. Which is odd because in HS I was voted Most Bashful :o.  The Marines might have had something to do with that too :D


One of the things during an exam to keep in mind is that stressing about it is not going to help you.  In the two exams I participated in, I watched people stress over what position they are in during a call down (OMG I don't want to go first!).  I remember telling one candidate that asked me if I would mind going ahead of her, "The five minute difference between first and last is not going to change my performance."  In PSIA, everyone gets a number and until the Examiners get to know you a little (remember what you look like anyway), they usually have you come down in number order.  The numbers are assigned alphabetically.  My last name starts with "A".  Guess who always gets to go first on the first graded run no matter what it is.  


Then people start stressing over what they did or didn't do in the previous run.  I admit that I feel prey to that too.  During Wedge Christies, I had two people come flying down behind me and throw on the brakes right on my heels.  I let it go the first time but the second time I stopped and with less than good neighborly communication, asked them to ski through and bring their two other friends with them.  What got in my head wasn't how this looked to the Examiner, but how it angered me (it was L2 candidates from another group that should have known better).  I realized at the bottom of the run that I had no idea what I did after I stopped.  I had no idea if I did wedge christies or what.  I did talk to the examiner about it when I calmed down and he alluded to the fact I didn't need to worry about it.  After that comment my attitude went back to the other end of the spectrum and all the stress was gone again.  Your mind is a very powerful tool and can be used to help or hinder and sometimes you might not choose.


Have fun,


post #35 of 41
"Great approach to go in with something you really know and that will benefit the group. I like it."

Adie, I clipped and pasted you're thumbs up reply to an earlier post. The thing is, for L3, you have to go in an have absolute confidence that you know what you're doing, pre-planned or not. The following isn't about tooting my own horn, but more about having no clue what I was going to do as we approached the top of the pitch where we were going to teach our short coaching segments.

Short segment, we were skiing very steep, very large bumps. For that one, I kept it what I thought was ridiculously simple, but I saw some issues with pole plants and again, separation. I recall saying, "well, we're going old school here, but if you're bored, you're boring... Strong blocking pole plants." Tough terrain, keep the technique simple, give a sentence of very directed tactical, check for understanding, and go. The ''what' and 'how' and 'why' were done statically. I told my group for the first bit of trying this out that I didn't care at all if they shopped for turns. I only wanted them to focus on the pole plant and where I wanted to see it happen... ' smile.gif. The point was for them to focus on the task without worrying about making their best turns in some pretty intimidating terrain. I gave some individual feedback points, then said,"ok, let's link some up now that we're staying square to the fall line with better separation, lets keep things slow and deliberate, but now let's link up some turns. All 4 improved. . The next step was to speed thing s up a bit and take it back to their 'real' skiing. At that point the examiners said' "good, ok, next candidate." I was done. 12 minutes roughly.

The abrupt ending I thought for a moment was because I sucked, but recalled them saying that they may cut things short if they saw what they needed to see. In the end, it went very well and was well received on the evaluation form, and more importantly, by my peers I was teaching. Sometimes there's no need at all to reinvent the wheel, just to make sure the right tire is on for the job at hand.
Edited by markojp - 4/19/15 at 8:11am
post #36 of 41
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Great post, Rusty! Very very good stuff! 


Dano, can't speak for CSIA, but for L3, the deal is to look at your group and make them better skiers. It's like a private group with 3-5 very good skiers. As an observation, there are certain movement patterns at each level that are often common and commonly problematic. Looking at the group I tested with, it was about addressing a degree (not a large one mind you) of following. I chose to address it to the group working on pelvic alignment... big stuff happens there that is often overlooked... I took a flyer on this one, but had thought and worked on it a lot over the preceeding couple of seasons as a point of departure from 'feet up' skiing.  I did a simple progression ( a defined body part, a movement/resultant sensation, and an outcome) appropriate to the terrain and addressed each with individual feedback. I had a group of 4 and saw immediate and positive changes in 3. The 4th, only showed some change on the very last few turns. One more run, switch the context a bit, and I'm sure we'd have had sucess with him/her as well. The examiners then ask about your session. "Who's skiing changed the most, how, and why?" and "Who's changed the least? What would you do with them if you had another session, and why? etc..."  Imbedded in a 'passing' answer are knowledge of MA, the ability to concisely orgainize and verbalize one's thoughts quickly, and have a high degree of understanding of 'effective/ineffective  movement patterns' and how to get there, same as you would do in a similar situation teaching a regular class but with bigger psycological component with the examiners measuring each and every word and movement of the group. 


In the teaching component, the tough part is getting over notion that everything you know about skiing has to be in every answer or explaination given. Be minimal. Minimalism is hard. To do it well, you have to know you're stuff. Even when you pass, chances are about 120% that you can pare it down further. It really is true that the learning starts after passing the exam. I think my teaching has improved a lot this season... part of it may be that you feel more relaxed to experiment. I don't know which was more difficult. I had a great ski session and felt confident that I had skied to the best of my ability that day, pass or fail, which was my personal goal. Teaching, I didn't really care about what I thought the examiners would be looking for. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to see change and how I wanted to get there. The examiners were free to fill in the blanks with their questioning. I've failed the exam before... when I did it was very much because I was thinking waaaay too much about what 'they' wanted and not having the confidence in what I already knew and had been working on. Same goes with skiing for a lot of examinees... some of the most painful sliding on snow I've ever done and seen is in an L3 exam prep group... usually it looks like a bunch of skiers that haven't had a bowel movement in about a month. Once you get things 'out of your system', you're much more likely to relax and succeed.


I'm fascinated by this approach markojp. It's not an approach I would ever have considered, to have an almost predetermined plan in the way you describe, rather than responding directly to your analysis of the group. Your approach leaves me with a lot to think about and I can see many advantages. I'm on the path to my CSIA Level 3 for which I will hopefully at least take the exam next season all being well. .

post #37 of 41
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Adie View Post


I'm fascinated by this approach markojp. It's not an approach I would ever have considered, to have an almost predetermined plan in the way you describe, rather than responding directly to your analysis of the group. Your approach leaves me with a lot to think about and I can see many advantages. I'm on the path to my CSIA Level 3 for which I will hopefully at least take the exam next season all being well. .



The approach might work on the PSIA side, but on the CSIA side, the examiners told us to avoid falling into the "trap of the magic drill" and a planned out lesson for the sake of showing that you can plan lessons. The folks who passed tended to be able to focus more on what was going on in the group and progress from there, the ones who didn't pass (like me!) tried to show progression through a series of nicely linked-together drills. 


In retrospect, because you're stuck with that hour, you're best off canning the first 10 minutes of your lesson, what you're going to say, that body part, that sensation, that skill you're going to work on, then go from there, tweaking the one drill you choose for the remainder of the hour, and slowly working it back into your skiing. 


That being said, I'd much prefer the PSIA 3 teaching portion. Sounds like it gives you a lot more flexibility. 


And I agree with you on the artificialness of training sessions versus regular lessons. There's so much more exposition in training sessions, which they don't want us to reflect in our teaching during the exam. After all, how many members of the public are going to sit and listen while you talk about the biomechanics and the 5 basic competences of skiing? My level one course conductor even said, "please don't talk about the basic compitences of skiing, unless you really want your students to give you that glazed over look." People would much rather you say, "okay Timmy, lets work on getting your stance a bit wider so you can edge those skis more easily, which will help you make more powerful turns." 

post #38 of 41
Originally Posted by Adie View Post

I'm fascinated by this approach markojp. It's not an approach I would ever have considered, to have an almost predetermined plan in the way you describe, rather than responding directly to your analysis of the group. Your approach leaves me with a lot to think about and I can see many advantages. I'm on the path to my CSIA Level 3 for which I will hopefully at least take the exam next season all being well. .

Again, there's no pre-determined plan. I don't have predetermined progressions. Why? Terrain. Evolving goals... The examiner could say, "ok, let's do off piste in this steep wind effected crud." I might have done something completely different, or heavily adjusted my approach. Bottom line is you just have to have confidence in yourself and in your ability to make your peers better skiers... in whatever terrain and circumstance your examiners want to see you teach. If you want to fail, show up with a canned progression.

One thing that is very helpful is listening critically and closely to how others teach: your peers, your trainers, etc... I've seen really good ideas poorly presented that I've borrowed and overhauled. Other ideas make huge changes, yet are very simple.
post #39 of 41

I'm not sure which segment, skiing or teaching, is the "harder" aspect of certification.  I think it depends on each candidate and their particular strengths.  For example....  When I was a first year instructor I easily passed L1 alpine and tele.  My second year I easily passed the L2 skiing portion.  I then went on to fail the L2 teaching portion twice, the second time I failed in every category.  I really thought that the teaching was going to be the easy part for me, but that turned out to not be the case.  The first time I drew the task of teaching the concept of speed control through turn shape, something that I teach everyday and have extensive experience with.  I failed because I started talking to the group explaining all the nuances of what I knew about the topic and ran out of time before I started them skiing.  Lesson learned "Ski more, Talk less".  The second time I failed I drew the same topic.  I failed that time because I had over prepared for each topic.  I had a canned lesson plan in mind for each of the topics I knew I might be presented with.  I will also blame the drugs.  I was having a nasty sciatic problem in my back that season and took a lot of prescription medication so that I could move without pain.  I thought that if I could move freely that the teaching part would be easy for me.  I remember getting to Snowbird that April and swallowing some Percocets, Soma, and Prednisone in the parking lot.  The conditions were a sheet of ice everywhere and I didn't ski very well on it.  One of the examiners commented that my skiing didn't seem to be up to the L2 standard and I, in my steroid induced condition, commented back that my skiing wasn't on the table and they should only concern themselves with my teaching.  They failed me in every category on the score sheet.  The feedback comment that rang the truest was that my presentations were "sing songy" and I lacked a connection to the people that I was teaching.  It made me think back to all the lessons I taught that season when I was taking pills for my back pain that seemed good to me.  I had to wonder If I had thrown down some bad lessons in my medicated condition.  The following season my back was better, the test format was changed, and I cruised right through.


I am a very good skier and I have been teaching primarily advanced and expert level lessons for many seasons now.  I took the L3 skiing test 4 seasons ago and almost passed.  Then I took a year off and took it again and didn't get a single passing score.  I thought that I skied pretty well both times and I am not the type to get much test anxiety.  The second time the snow was very funky.  We had a long high pressure spell and hard pack conditions for weeks, then the night before the test we got about 8" of heavy new snow that got quickly pushed into piles.  I think that funky snow is one of my strengths, so I didn't care and I thought that I skied pretty well that day.  They basically failed me because Personal Style Isn't Allowed.  In fact the first sentence in the written feedback commented on how strong my skiing is and how I don't change much as the conditions get bad.  Then they went on to ding me for lack of separation and a "subtle" but persistent upper body rotation.  I am OK with them having standards, but it does annoy me that I can out ski plenty of L3 skiers especially in steep, tight, manky conditions and they want to tell me that my skiing lacks in every category.  I burns me that the score sheet talks about things like turn shape and size, being able to control and change up speeds, and other outcome related tasks which I do very well but they score me low in these things because they don't like my "style" while doing it.  I will argue forever that those tasks as written on the score sheet are ski/snow interaction outcomes and they should have scored them accordingly and failed me on the movement part of the score sheet.  I really have a hard time with some of the Utahards that I have to deal with in my division.


I didn't do any assessments this season, but I did do plenty of trainings including a mock L3 teaching assessment.  The funny thing is, they are still not quite happy with everything in my skiing for L3, but they love my teaching and MA.  The feedback I got from what I considered to be a, for me, substandard segment was that I hit it right down the middle and it would be a solid pass.  Weeks later in the locker room I was told by one of the examiners that my teaching was excellent and spot on.  He told me that in his opinion that my technical understanding and MA is well above the L3 standard.  This is from one of the examiners who is known for being tough.  The consensus among my trainers is that if I can stop sucking at skiing long enough to get past the ski portion of the test, the teaching will be easy for me.  This is a big change from what I experienced at the L2 assesments.  


My point is that a candidates strengths will determine where their personal challenges lie.  I passed the L1 Snowboard exam with perfect scores on the teaching segments because I have gotten so good at teaching skiing that I could basically fake my way through.  I also passed the L2 telemark exam because my teaching is very strong even though I really didn't understand what the examiner was asking me to do in my teaching segment.  What I have learned is to go to an assessment fairly well prepared but with no expectations.  Use your experience teaching, but don't have anything in the can.  Just like in a real lesson watch what's going on and ask questions then produce a lesson plan and be willing to move from that plan a little in response to what you see as the segment unfolds.  In particular, you need to limit the plan to one specific skill and tie it to a body part and a sensation or outcome that the student can focus on.  Any drills that are used should be appropriate for the skill being targeted and the drills need to be brought back to actual skiing.  For the skiing portion all I can say is just ski how you do it everyday, relax, and don't try too hard.  Of course my success at L3 hasn't been great, but I see a lot of candidates who seem stiff and fake because they are trying too hard to be perfect.  I don't care specifically about the L3 pin, I just want to be a bad ass skier and instructor and to me the pin will be an outcome of that.  Like I said before, I can already out-ski and out-teach plenty of L3 instructors out there right now.  The next time I go to an assessment I plan on being able to pass on a below average day possibly hung over with which ever Utahard examiner I draw.

post #40 of 41

I guess I can't spell Utard.  Is that a term one must master to get to the highest level in PSIA-Inter-mountain?  I have been toying with the idea of switching divisions in response to some BS that went down with the board RE the representatives who I voted for.  Others have already done so and there are people who feel like JH should abandon the whole Utard scene and become part of Northern RM.

post #41 of 41
And thats the key. Your worst day still has to be passing.smile.gif

Tpj, i had the same issues with my skiing as you did in your exam. I mean to a 'T'. I was pretty bummed and i wasn't really getting much useful feedback that did anything other than point out my flaws. In the end, I went off rez and looked at a select group of skiers I really admired and wanted to figure out. Two seasons later, changes were made and the exam passed. And yes, i feel strongly that the original 'fail' accessment was correct in retrospect. The changes resulted in better, more consistent outcomes on the technical side of things.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Exam Standards. What's easier, skiing or teaching?