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What should I take away from my Level 1 Exam?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'll be taking my PSIA Level 1 Exam this weekend.  I'm not concerned about whether or not I'll pass, but  I'm wondering what I should try to take away from the experience. From what I've been told its pretty hard to fail, and I'm a fairly strong skier. My plan is to be ready for my Level 2 by the end of next season, so I'm already trying to go beyond just passable.  How can I get the most out of the Level 1 experience?

post #2 of 22
Keep an open mind, listen, watch, be open to change and have fun!
post #3 of 22

make connections, learn the process of exam taking, the "what" and the "how".  that will help prepare you for future exams

post #4 of 22

The off snow part is pretty useful.  Be a sponge.  Look for the insight into progressions, what works, ask questions of what doesn't work, and why.  Learn about MA, particularly looking at the ski performance and the body performance that leads to it.  Begin to learn what PSIA is about.

 

And have fun!

 

Mike

post #5 of 22

Just sayin' from someone who has no affiliation with PSIA, but, I think getting ready for Level 2 may just be harder than you expect. At least at my home mountain, newer candidates for Level 2 often ski far better than those who passed years ago, and, still fail the Level 2. I asked an examiner about this, and, he agreed that L2 is a big jump. It is not so much how you ski, but, how well you ski according to their standards.

 

Carry on, sorry for the minor highjack

post #6 of 22
My bro took away a slight hangover and a comment card that said "I want to ski like you when I grow up" so your mileage my vary.
post #7 of 22

One way to look at the Level 1 exam is that it is a "join the club" event. As much as you're taking an exam, the examiner is also trying to sell you on how fun a PSIA event can be. As much as you are taking an exam, this is an opportunity to learn. Watch the other candidates. Practice your movement analysis skills. Take notes on how the examiner conducts the exam to see what things you can steal and incorporate into your own teaching. Come out of the exam with a shopping list of things to work on in your own skiing and things to develop in your teaching. As much as you are taking an exam, you are beginning the process of expanding your ski "family" from your ski school coworker friends to instructors from other resorts. Start to learn how things work at other resorts. Finally, take this exam with your eyes wide open. There are many who join PSIA who quickly become disillusioned with paying a significant portion of their ski teaching income for dues and continuing education and get so little back in return. If you are a part time instructor PSIA membership is just an expansion of your ski teaching hobby. There are many benefits to membership, but they won't amount to anything if you don't take advantage of them. One benefit that is not there for part timers is increased income. The return on investment in terms of increased compensation just isn't there. The biggest benefit for part timers is becoming a more skilled instructor. If you're teaching for the love of the sport, by all means go for it. As a former hobby (part time) instructor I was very happy with getting access to top coaches and the perks of being a trainer at my home resort. That access translated into a much greater ability to greatly increase the success of the lessons I taught (i.e. those guys were good and I just stole all of their good stuff, so of course it worked great). Now that I'm retired from my day job and working full time teaching,the increase in earnings that I'm making because of my level 3 cert is rapidly making up for the years of dues and clinics that I have invested via my PSIA membership. I never expected this. I did expect that the certification process would turn me into one of those special people I met when I first started teaching. These are the folks who you can spot in a crowd because of their facial expression/body language and you can spot on the slopes because of the magic they can work with their students. This week alone I've turned one kid who would rather go to school than ski into a kid begging her father to come back again before the season ends (and we still have 4 more days to go on this trip). Last week I had 2 kids who came back for a repeat from a month ago (because Dad saw much more progress from my lessons than from "regular" ski school). The week before that I had a dad chase me down because his kids (who I'd taught in a "regular" lesson a few days before) said they liked me so much better than the other instructors they had had during the week. That's not me. That's credit to the people I stole learned from. I'm helping to create future life long skiers. This stuff does work. But it takes time, effort and money. If this is what you want, then start to take all of this away from your Level 1 exam experience.

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

One way to look at the Level 1 exam is that it is a "join the club" event. As much as you're taking an exam, the examiner is also trying to sell you on how fun a PSIA event can be. As much as you are taking an exam, this is an opportunity to learn. Watch the other candidates. Practice your movement analysis skills. Take notes on how the examiner conducts the exam to see what things you can steal and incorporate into your own teaching. Come out of the exam with a shopping list of things to work on in your own skiing and things to develop in your teaching. As much as you are taking an exam, you are beginning the process of expanding your ski "family" from your ski school coworker friends to instructors from other resorts. Start to learn how things work at other resorts. Finally, take this exam with your eyes wide open. There are many who join PSIA who quickly become disillusioned with paying a significant portion of their ski teaching income for dues and continuing education and get so little back in return. If you are a part time instructor PSIA membership is just an expansion of your ski teaching hobby. There are many benefits to membership, but they won't amount to anything if you don't take advantage of them. One benefit that is not there for part timers is increased income. The return on investment in terms of increased compensation just isn't there. The biggest benefit for part timers is becoming a more skilled instructor. If you're teaching for the love of the sport, by all means go for it. As a former hobby (part time) instructor I was very happy with getting access to top coaches and the perks of being a trainer at my home resort. That access translated into a much greater ability to greatly increase the success of the lessons I taught (i.e. those guys were good and I just stole all of their good stuff, so of course it worked great). Now that I'm retired from my day job and working full time teaching,the increase in earnings that I'm making because of my level 3 cert is rapidly making up for the years of dues and clinics that I have invested via my PSIA membership. I never expected this. I did expect that the certification process would turn me into one of those special people I met when I first started teaching. These are the folks who you can spot in a crowd because of their facial expression/body language and you can spot on the slopes because of the magic they can work with their students. This week alone I've turned one kid who would rather go to school than ski into a kid begging her father to come back again before the season ends (and we still have 4 more days to go on this trip). Last week I had 2 kids who came back for a repeat from a month ago (because Dad saw much more progress from my lessons than from "regular" ski school). The week before that I had a dad chase me down because his kids (who I'd taught in a "regular" lesson a few days before) said they liked me so much better than the other instructors they had had during the week. That's not me. That's credit to the people I stole learned from. I'm helping to create future life long skiers. This stuff does work. But it takes time, effort and money. If this is what you want, then start to take all of this away from your Level 1 exam experience.

THIS even for a full time instructor is the big take away as far as working in the industry.

post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

One way to look at the Level 1 exam is that it is a "join the club" event. As much as you're taking an exam, the examiner is also trying to sell you on how fun a PSIA event can be. As much as you are taking an exam, this is an opportunity to learn. Watch the other candidates. Practice your movement analysis skills. Take notes on how the examiner conducts the exam to see what things you can steal and incorporate into your own teaching. Come out of the exam with a shopping list of things to work on in your own skiing and things to develop in your teaching. As much as you are taking an exam, you are beginning the process of expanding your ski "family" from your ski school coworker friends to instructors from other resorts. Start to learn how things work at other resorts. Finally, take this exam with your eyes wide open. There are many who join PSIA who quickly become disillusioned with paying a significant portion of their ski teaching income for dues and continuing education and get so little back in return. If you are a part time instructor PSIA membership is just an expansion of your ski teaching hobby. There are many benefits to membership, but they won't amount to anything if you don't take advantage of them. One benefit that is not there for part timers is increased income. The return on investment in terms of increased compensation just isn't there. The biggest benefit for part timers is becoming a more skilled instructor. If you're teaching for the love of the sport, by all means go for it. As a former hobby (part time) instructor I was very happy with getting access to top coaches and the perks of being a trainer at my home resort. That access translated into a much greater ability to greatly increase the success of the lessons I taught (i.e. those guys were good and I just stole all of their good stuff, so of course it worked great). Now that I'm retired from my day job and working full time teaching,the increase in earnings that I'm making because of my level 3 cert is rapidly making up for the years of dues and clinics that I have invested via my PSIA membership. I never expected this. I did expect that the certification process would turn me into one of those special people I met when I first started teaching. These are the folks who you can spot in a crowd because of their facial expression/body language and you can spot on the slopes because of the magic they can work with their students. This week alone I've turned one kid who would rather go to school than ski into a kid begging her father to come back again before the season ends (and we still have 4 more days to go on this trip). Last week I had 2 kids who came back for a repeat from a month ago (because Dad saw much more progress from my lessons than from "regular" ski school). The week before that I had a dad chase me down because his kids (who I'd taught in a "regular" lesson a few days before) said they liked me so much better than the other instructors they had had during the week. That's not me. That's credit to the people I stole learned from. I'm helping to create future life long skiers. This stuff does work. But it takes time, effort and money. If this is what you want, then start to take all of this away from your Level 1 exam experience.

That's how I feel about the work.

 

TreeFiter, even though the Level 1 certification is considered a "join the club event", be proud of the accomplishment; you will continue to earn the award long after they give you the pin.

post #10 of 22

I'm struggling with a bit of post-test blues. I just took my L1, and I passed, and I actually had a good time on the day. My evaluator was phenomenal, and having a chance to ski with him made the whole thing worthwhile. I learned a lot about my skiing and my teaching. Still, I don't feel like I performed at my best, in particular my teaching section was downright robotic. I's left me feeling less proud of the accomplishment than I'd hoped, which in turn has me feeling a lot less optimistic about continuing on as an instructor. I felt elated after passing the in-house exam a couple of weeks earlier (my "Green Pin") which if anything was harder.

post #11 of 22

Sounds like you are having one of those days.

Time for a beer with friends!

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by imatlas View Post
 

I'm struggling with a bit of post-test blues. I just took my L1, and I passed, and I actually had a good time on the day. My evaluator was phenomenal, and having a chance to ski with him made the whole thing worthwhile. I learned a lot about my skiing and my teaching. Still, I don't feel like I performed at my best, in particular my teaching section was downright robotic. It's left me feeling less proud of the accomplishment than I'd hoped, which in turn has me feeling a lot less optimistic about continuing on as an instructor. I felt elated after passing the in-house exam a couple of weeks earlier (my "Green Pin") which if anything was harder.


Congrats!
While it may seem a little like a "let down" after working so hard at it, you should be very proud of your progress. As I watched you all (the instructors/candidates at Sugar Bowl) spend as much time as you did, taking time on your Saturday evenings after work for tech talks, getting out there and practicing your teaching, etc.. I was very confident you would have no problem passing. I sure hope your experience does not "drive you away" from teaching. The evaluation process is just to validate what you already know. Most of us realize that how you teach during the pressure of an "exam" is not the way you usually teach on the hill. I've watched you teach and seen the joy in your eyes when you are working with your students. That's what you should be taking away from this experience.

 

For those of you wondering what the "Green Pin" is, Our Mountain sports has a program called "green pin, blue pin, red pin" where an instructor can apply, and test through the process to earn each of these pins. The skiing tasks, I think are much harder than the L1, L2, L3. They are judged by several of our resort trainers. For the red pin, they are evaluated by Mike Iman our Ski School Director who in years past was one of the National demo team selectors for the western division. We also evaluate candidates on guest services, knowledge, and teaching performance.

 

The clinician was Chris Fellows. The feedback we (resort trainers) got from Chris was "if anything our candidates were over prepared" and yes he is a phenomenal guy to ski with.

 

Again Congrats Mr Atlas! Well deserved..

 

 

DC

post #13 of 22

So @Treefiter,

 

How'd it go? Learn a lot? what's your takeaway now?

post #14 of 22
I was out with our L1 candidates in the rain for awhile today helping out for a bit. The trainer? The head of PSIA. smile.gif Yep! Petty cool. They're working incredibly hard and the nerves are a bit evident as exam day approaches. Come want may, they should all feel good about all the work and improvement in their skiing as should you, Mr. Atlas!
smile.gif
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan View Post
 

So @Treefiter,

 

How'd it go? Learn a lot? what's your takeaway now?

The exam was great.  Like everybody said, it was a fun event.  There really isn't any reason to go into it nervous.  I was lucky enough to end up in a group of solid skiers (at least for a level 1).  This meant that our examiner could take us onto more difficult terrain and show us things beyond level 1.  There is nothing like getting more than you expected out of a clinic.  

 

The exam did highlight a few areas of weakness for me.  I think I was already somewhat aware of them, but the exam put them right in front of me.  

 

The best part of it all was that most of what we worked on related directly to the things I have been trying to fix in my own skiing.  Almost every time the examiner would give us something to work on, I would think back to one of my posts on this forum, and the advice that had been given.  Lots of work on shaping the turn for speed control, using the top of the turn, and applying this to short radius turns.  We even did a little bit with pivot slips (for those of you that contributed to my post on Short Radius Turns).

 

I tried to use the rest of the group to practice my MA.  Most of the time I was able to see what the examiner was seeing.  Walking away from the Level 1 I feel pretty confident going forward.  

 

I found a Children's Specialist 1 event coming up in the beginning of April, and I decided to sign up for it now.  I'm trying to make some progress while I have some momentum.  Once that is done, I'll be hard at work preparing for my Level 2 next season.  I think I'm fairly close to ready for the skiing portion of the exam, but the teaching aspects are definitely my weak point.  Next season I'll be teaching from the beginning of the season, so I should be able to gain quite a bit of good experience by the time I take the L2.  

 

I'm sure I'll have more questions along the way.  Thank you to everyone for the help and encouragement.  You have not only helped me to get more out of my L1, but you have helped my skiing and teaching in a big way.  I'm really looking forward to the journey ahead.

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post
 

The exam was great.  Like everybody said, it was a fun event.  There really isn't any reason to go into it nervous.  I was lucky enough to end up in a group of solid skiers (at least for a level 1).  This meant that our examiner could take us onto more difficult terrain and show us things beyond level 1.  There is nothing like getting more than you expected out of a clinic.  

 

The exam did highlight a few areas of weakness for me.  I think I was already somewhat aware of them, but the exam put them right in front of me.  

 

The best part of it all was that most of what we worked on related directly to the things I have been trying to fix in my own skiing.  Almost every time the examiner would give us something to work on, I would think back to one of my posts on this forum, and the advice that had been given.  Lots of work on shaping the turn for speed control, using the top of the turn, and applying this to short radius turns.  We even did a little bit with pivot slips (for those of you that contributed to my post on Short Radius Turns).

 

I tried to use the rest of the group to practice my MA.  Most of the time I was able to see what the examiner was seeing.  Walking away from the Level 1 I feel pretty confident going forward.  

 

I found a Children's Specialist 1 event coming up in the beginning of April, and I decided to sign up for it now.  I'm trying to make some progress while I have some momentum.  Once that is done, I'll be hard at work preparing for my Level 2 next season.  I think I'm fairly close to ready for the skiing portion of the exam, but the teaching aspects are definitely my weak point.  Next season I'll be teaching from the beginning of the season, so I should be able to gain quite a bit of good experience by the time I take the L2.  

 

I'm sure I'll have more questions along the way.  Thank you to everyone for the help and encouragement.  You have not only helped me to get more out of my L1, but you have helped my skiing and teaching in a big way.  I'm really looking forward to the journey ahead.

 

I think the CS1 and CS2 were some of the best training I have gotten from PSIA.  The stuff I learned in those clinics is directly applicable to teaching children of all ages.  I mostly teach advanced and expert level adult students.

 

I had no trouble getting through the L2 skiing test early in my second year of instructing.  I had more trouble with the L2 teach.  My advice to you is to become very familiar with the 5 skill proficiencies and use them to frame your lesson plans and feedback in your everyday "real" teaching.  You will be more effective with the students if you restrict your lesson to one primary proficiency and "maybe" one secondary proficiency in any given lesson.  Identify one thing that will help the student the most and teach it well.  To much information tends to confuse people.  At the end of the lesson when you do your closing there should be no question in the students mind about what they learned.  The examiners will be looking this kind of structure when you take the test and it will help you to be proficient and natural with it because you have ingrained it through real teaching.  The test environment is inherently unnatural and you have to be very focused and concise to get a strong lesson across in the time they give you.  I really find the RAP model for feedback to be very helpful.  RAP is Report what you see, Analyze the effect of what you see, and then Prescribe a lesson plan to address/correct what you saw.  Feedback should be objective vs subjective and as concrete and concise as possible.  Use a body part, a sensation, and a specific phase in the turn.  Get so natural hitting all the points in the learning/teaching cycle that you don't think about it anymore and you wont miss one when you are being evaluated.  You will get big time extra points for phrasing and framing your feedback within the CAP model.  The CAP model is really good when you are reviewing what you did privately with your examiners prior to them completing your evaluation.  My point is that when you get used to using these tools to frame your lesson plans in everyday teaching it becomes natural vs contrived and you wont need to struggle or feel as nervous on exam day.

 

I hope this helps.     

post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post

 

I tried to use the rest of the group to practice my MA.  Most of the time I was able to see what the examiner was seeing.  Walking away from the Level 1 I feel pretty confident going forward.  

 

This is always a good way to train your eye.

 

Enjoy the journey and Congrats!

post #18 of 22

Personally, I found the CS1 course to the be best course for learning how to teach to all clients, be they children or adults.  In Rocky Mountain, it seems to be the course that has the most teaching content to it, more than the teaching course itself.  I highly recommend it.

 

Mike

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

Personally, I found the CS1 course to the be best course for learning how to teach to all clients, be they children or adults.  In Rocky Mountain, it seems to be the course that has the most teaching content to it, more than the teaching course itself.  I highly recommend it.

 

Mike

I've been working my way through the workbook for the CS1 all day, and reading the Children's Instruction Manual.  I wish I had done this sooner.  Its really great information.  I'm really looking forward to the on snow portion.

post #20 of 22

Tree,

 

I'm a level 1, going to take my level 2 in a couple of weeks. I passed my level 1 easily and was one of the better skiers in my group, so I thought level 2 wouldn't be that hard.

 

I was wrong.

 

The fundamental problem is that when we are at a certain level, we only have a faint glimmer of what we need to do to reach the next level. Most of it we just don't understand, and the problem is that we don't know it.

 

I've always been pretty good at carving, but just this year I've figured out "forward pressure all the time", and edging before the fall line. Just this year my MA has gotten good enough that I'm easily seeing things that I couldn't see at all. I can do MA on a video here and get many of the things others mention. I can see things in others that I used to do but didn't realize at the time.

 

You are viewing Level 2 as a goal, an accomplishment. I did, too.

 

But I've since figured out that it's all about the journey. I do hope I pass, but the process has made my skiing better, I have more fun, and I'm WAY better at teaching than I was before. That's why I do it.

post #21 of 22

Most likely, you will a bronze colored pin away from your level 1 exam. Hehehe. 

post #22 of 22

Just took and passed a L1 certification clinic this past weekend.  It was more challenging than I expected.  The skiing conditions were horrible due to the very warm spring weather...the snow was like thick mashed potatoes.  I don't think that I have ever skied worse in my life than the 2 days of the exam clinic.  My confidence as a skier and an instructor was shaken a bit but in the end I am both happy and a better skier/instructor for having participated.

 

My take away from the weekend is that regardless of how well I ski, I have plenty to improve on...and from a teaching standpoint I have plenty to think about to continue to develop and refine my approach to working with students on the slopes.  One of the greatest benefits was skiing with the other instructor candidates and doing the candidate teaching segments, everyone had varying levels of experience as skiers and instructors and we all came from different areas...this translated into a wealth of unique contributions that helps fill my "instructor toolbox" with great ideas to employ next season.

 

Beyond that, I think my biggest takeaway from the exam clinic and the lead-up to it can be summed up from a conversation that I had with my office mate this morning while discussing the weekend.  He said that "it was too bad the snow conditions were so crappy for the clinic."  I thought about that for a moment and shared something I read here a few weeks ago:

 

By Skier31 in the thread titled "PSIA Certification Process - Fair? Rigged? What's the real story?" (http://www.epicski.com/t/146243/psia-certification-process-fair-rigged-whats-the-real-story):

"People need to develop their skills so that they can pass the exam on their worst day, not their best day."

 

For the 7 of us who participated this weekend...we were required by our evaluator to show a considerable level of competence in our personal skiing and our ability to instruct regardless of the conditions...which is exactly what our students and other stakeholders expect from us as "Professional Ski Instructors".

 

Cheers,

-Zohan

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