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How to prepare for teaching exams?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I just took my CS1 this weekend, and I kind of felt like a fish out of water.  In a way this was good.  It meant I was being challenged.  At the same time it highlighted my weaknesses.  I intend to pursue my Level 2 at the end of next season, but I'm a little bit worried about the teaching portion of the exam.  What is the best way to train for the teaching portion of an exam?  I'll be regularly attending clinics all season long, but I would like to work on my teaching as much as possible, so I am hoping for other ways to work on it.  

post #2 of 12

talk to your clinicians and trainers next year and see if you can spend time leading parts of the clinics with their supervision. especially if you are able to lead some 1 run/15minute segments to the L1 candidates.


This will get you good feed back for your teaching and allow an experienced clinician help you along. This will also get you in the habit of more concise teaching instead of over teaching.


If your clinic/training is like ours, you might get one run to introduce something. You better be accurate and not stand around much!

post #3 of 12

If your trainers allow you to do this, another tactic could be to have the observing clinician observe you teaching some. Then have them select a topic, give you one chair ride, and then have you teach/lead the clinic. If the clinician can take things you struggling with, and have you work on developing a very short lesson plan, on the fly, you will just get better and better at it.



post #4 of 12

The process I did to attain my Level 3 was like this:

-Fail a few times. Take notes on what I did wrong, and try and implement the feedback from the examiners into my own teaching. I noticed that most people who botched their exams at the same time I did would bail as soon as the results were given, which hardly seems to be a recipe for success. (You should try to avoid this one though!)


-Take notes during the clinics. Trainers are not infallible, sometimes they do drills that go over like a lead balloon. Write down what works, what doesn't, and more importantly, take note of how they say it. You could have an incredible understanding of skiing, but not have any idea how to say it in a way that is quick and easy for people to get. And try to understand why a trainer does what they do. Why do they pick a certain drill? Why do they phrase things the way they do? What objective do they have in mind when they have you do something? This will help you be a better teacher. I see so many new instructors just blindly have people do side slipping drills, because that's what they learned from their examiners in L1, but they have no idea why it's good for the student to do a sideslip. 



-Practice teaching. Practice in the clinics if you can. At my sessions, it was very helpful for me to be able to practice leading the group, getting instant feedback on what was working, and what I could do better. I also went out and skied with my friends who were L2 candidates and tried to work on their skiing. Not to toot my own horn, but a few of them ended up passing their L2s and said I was helpful, so at the very least, if you do this, you might get a few free beers out of it. 


-Shadow. If you have a spot in your day that you're not filling up with a lesson or free skiing, see if there's a veteran instructor you can follow around. See what other instructors do. Swap ideas with them. Lots of people will be happy to share their experiences, and swap tips. Hell, by posting here, you're already kind of doing this!

post #5 of 12
... and to add to everything above, the more you actually just teach regular lessons, the better you'll get! Ask your supervisor(s) for a breadth of assignments (age) commensurate with your cert level, etc... from my general observation, full time instructors have a pretty big leg up simply because they spend more time teaching and can experiment and/or integrate a trainer's suggestions on a daily basis. A couple of other thoughts:

Look at a pitch of or within a particular run and ask yourself, 'what could I use this terrain to teach?' In a mini lesson or 'one point wonder' workshop. When taking an exam, it's very useful to know the venue so you can visualize different types and durations of progressions.

Ask a colleague to let you 'teach' them something you don't typically get a chance to teach to a class... Max time limit 15min.

Challenge yourself by doing a one or two minute lesson using no words

smile.gif Never under estimate the power of playing with DIRT.

And as someone mentioned above, listen carefully and take notes on how your most successful clinicians run their show.
post #6 of 12

A great way to prepare for the Part 2 (teaching portion) of an exam is to have an Ed staff level trainer or someone who is familiar with the exam module format, set up some exam scenarios with folks of your level or better.  Once you are comfortable presenting accurate information in front of your peers things will go much easier at an exam.

post #7 of 12
I recently passed my L2 teaching. Surprisingly I did it the first try, however, I've been studying for it for a while. Since it took me three swings at the bat to pass the skiing part, it had been a while since I took CS1. I went back and studied that by reading the book (skimming mostly) and doing the CS1 workbook over.

I'm also fortunate to coach a seasonal program so I'm working with kids from 9-3 each weekend. To make sure I could still do a never ever, I taught an adult female friend. It was the equivalent of a 4 hour private but I got to watch her go from not knowing anything to doing spontaneous wedge Christies in just a couple hours ( never mentioned or taught it). It was incredible fun.

I had also been working with an L3 candidate. I was her Guinea pig to practice her teaching and my skiing got the benefit of her coaching. When I moved to the teaching part if the L2 exam, we tended to have more conversations than snow time and instead of me just getting coached by her, she would practice a progression on me and I would give me feedback.

At the start of the season, I planned on taking the L2 teaching prep but it was only offered once and too far away. I called PSIA-E and told them I wanted to take CS1 again as my prep course (I didn't need a prep course - I wanted one). They said it was a great idea, costs the same as the teaching prep, and (I asked to make sure) if I screwed it up, they wouldn't take my CS1 cert away smile.gif. Not only that, but it was being offered at a mountain only 40 minutes away (no hotel) and a few days before the exam. Several people to include examiners said that the CS1 course is a very good teaching prep course.

Then Mother Nature showed up and rained (literally) on my parade/plan. All the snow was going and the resorts were cancelling to include the one hosting CS1. Thought about what to do over a couple adult beverages and decided the exam would be the prep course and there was another exam a few weeks later if needed. Would only increase the cost by $25 for exams but I would need lodging. Also toyed with the idea of waiting until next season but finally decided to only make decisions on what was right in front of me because there were too many variables. So it was go to the exam with the belief it was the prep course but had the benefit of banking a module or two.

I used the technical manual like an encyclopedia and would look things up. I memorized the 5 fundamentals and would use it as the basis for my MAs. I usually try to cover each of VAK whenever I'm teaching so I wanted to make sure I did that. My reasoning was that in case I didn't interpret the scenario correctly (I.e. I think it is a Visual but they say it's a Kinesthetic student) I would still get it right.

Don't worry about doing the same thing over as long as it is relevant. Each module you do has a different examiner so they won't know you just did the same progression. Nor will they care. The other candidates will but they won't care either. My point is that you don't have to use your entire toolbox. Just the ones that do the job and your most comfortable with.

Also, find folks that have recently been to the teaching exam and talk to them. I did that and understood what was going to happen a bit better. It is a different format than the skiing exam.

However, do none of the above until after you pass the skiing exam.

And have fun,
Edited by L&AirC - 4/6/16 at 3:41am
post #8 of 12
Good advice above. Teach what you know. Examiners can smell when you are presenting something you haven't used on snow before. Follow the teaching format ( intro to summary for adults, play ... For kids). Teach for transfer. Don't forget feedback. It has to be accurate and timely. Ma skills help a lot. Practice, practice, practice, then go to Carnegie Hall.
post #9 of 12
Shadow experienced instructors. Multiple times, multiple instructors. Watch how their clients react. Then, while riding the chair, watch skiers and make quick "mini fix" lesson plans.
post #10 of 12

I'm also fresh off passing my Level 2 exam (@L&AirC , were you at Killington?) My pointers are as follows.


First off, concern yourself with your skiing exam. IMHO, the skiing part is actually harder than the teaching. Really practice the Skill Level stuff, I saw more people fail at Wedge Christies and Open Parallel turns than anything else. 


Second, peruse the Alpine Technical Manual, and get familiar with it. I'd also suggest the Children's manual for most, since knowing what is developmentally appropriate for the scenario you're given in the Children's module is really important. 


Your teach exam isn't a mock lesson. It's a clinic. Don't pretend your exam group is a class, treat them like other instructors. Tech talk is okay. Getting 'lost in the metaphor' isn't. 


The examiners are going to be looking for  you to link everything you're doing back to the basic skills (Balance, Edging, Rotation, Pressure). Get familiar with drills, and know why you're doing them. 


Lots of the scenarios are "how to get out of a wedge" type lessons. Brush up on drills and tactics for that. 


Work on motion analysis with some experienced instructors. Learn to diagnose what a skier is doing, and how to prescribe a method for change. 

post #11 of 12

I was at the one before.  Was supposed to be at Jiminy but was moved to Mount Snow last minute.  Killington was my fall back plan if things went astray at Mt Snow.


To elaborate on what freeski919 said, you should be able to tie everything to the 5 fundamentals on the Teach exam.


Also, you need to be able to handle giving feedback to other candidates during MA.  You also need to be able to receive feedback from them.  It isn't personal.  When you are receiving it, be professional and accept it.  They don't want to give it in front of an examiner anymore than you want to receive it.


But like freeski said, focus on the skiing part until you pass that.  Keep the teaching part in the back of your mind.  I did most of my studying during the off season for teaching and MA.


When I went to the Ski exam the first time, everyone thought I had it hands down.  I didn't pass anything and had too many "2"s to count.  Was close to saying F it and telling PSIA to piss off.  Swallowed my pride and went back to the drawing board.  Mostly because I realized the examiners were right.  They gave me very good feedback after the exam and told me what I needed to work on.


Second swing I passed two modules and the one I failed, as soon as they told me what I did wrong, I knew they were right.  I squared my shoulders to my skis doing Leapers.  That cost me the Agility and Versatility module and I had to redo it.  I got 2s on leapers but passed the rest.  When I went back, I got 5s on Leapers.  I was at a clinic early season and the examiner watched me do them and told me exactly what to correct. There wasn't a day on snow I didn't do them but you have to practice them correctly.


There is a pretty good chance you'll see other candidates screw things up and then pass.  Will probably piss you off but it doesn't matter.  The examiner either didn't see it or saw something else they got them the "Attain".  It isn't a competition.


Remember, you can learn from failing if your eyes, ears and mind are open.  I learned a ton that way.



post #12 of 12

Work on developing a goal statement and lesson plan.  Here's a bunch of interviews that you can use set it up.





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