Well I've been instructing for a little over a week now, and I've been able to get my feet wet in a variety of situations. I was hired primarily as a coach in a season long program that brings children ages 5-12 from skiing easy blues to being able to handle anything on the mountain by the end of the season. In this role, I feel like I'm doing just fine. However, with President's Week being one of the busiest times of the season, especially with the conditions we've had here in the Northeast, I've been recruited to help out with group lessons, which range from small children (I had a 3y/o in a group yesterday) to adults, and first time/never ever skiers to low level intermediates.
So far I've done really well with everything thrown at me with the exception of a few of the younger children. I have had a few small children that I thought were going to be nightmares, but I found a way to get them stopping and turning by the end of the lesson.
Of the lessons that didn't go so well, I think were the result of poor judgement from the parents. In one case I had a 4y/o that simply refused to do anything. He was cold, so I took him inside to warm up. When he was warm again, we went back out to try again, but he shut down completely. I was able to get him to play follow the leader on one ski for about 30 seconds, but after that he wouldn't do anything for me. He wanted Mommy. I don't think he was ready to ski just yet. He really didn't even seem interested.
Later that day, I had lesson with a 4 1/2 y/o. It started out great. She was having a blast. We did boot drills, one ski, we worked on sidestepping and herringbone. We did straight runs to a stop, we started trying to use a wedge to stop. Then Grandma showed up and asked if I could get her skiing on the Magic Carpet ASAP. I was between a rock and a hard place. I didn't want to move this student up until she could at least stop herself using a wedge, but at the same time, the customer is asking for a specific service. I spent a little more time working on stopping until I was reasonably comfortable with bringing her up the Magic Carpet. Then I stayed in front of her coaching her to stop herself by making the pizza. She was starting to get it, but all of a sudden she decided that she didn't want to stop. She told me "No! That's not what the Magic Carpet is for." Then it turned into "Get out of my way." All I could imagine was a 4 1/2 y/o missile heading for the lodge at Mach 1. Luckily, it was our last run when she completely stopped cooperating. Her parents and Grandma were pleased with what I was able to do. So I guess it wasn't a total loss, but I still walked away a little bit frustrated and disappointed that she still could barely stop and hadn't learned to turn.
With both of these lessons, the customers seemed pleased with what I was able to do. I got a pretty good tip from the parents both times. So I guess that says something. I just can't help but feel like I could have done more, or done something different that might have kept them interested longer and helped them get a little more out of the lesson.
I'm also a little bit concerned that I don't feel super confident about how to teach things like edging or rotary to a small child. Even side stepping and herringbone exercises are extremely difficult to get across to children at that age (at least for me). So if there are any of you that have some good advice for working with small children, I'm all ears. If you know of any good online resources or YouTube videos on the subject, I'd love to hear about them. So far the best I could find was a guy recommending an edgie wedgie for kids under 5. I'm not a fan of using gadgets, and lets face it, if the kid shows up to a lesson without an edgie wedgie, we can't use the edgie wedgie.