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How to improve training? - Page 3

post #61 of 97
Thread Starter 
I don't know any more than anyone else what mastery means in the context of ski instruction, and I thank you all for helping me sort it out (or not--certainly this is an example of a question that doesn't have one right answer, but maybe it has one best answer). I think it's important to understand the limits of what training can do for people, and I tend to think that training will (or will not) start someone on the path to mastery, but they travel the last distance on their own. Therefore, how we start an instructor is the most important step in the process toward mastery, which some will reach and some will not, depending on their motivation, because motivation can transcend personal limitations.

I think mastery is high competence at your profession, art, or craft. As PSIA is fond of saying "We teach PEOPLE to ski." Ski teaching involves people skills (communication skills) and skiing skills. Lacking one or the other severely handicaps a teacher.
post #62 of 97
well this has digressed into defining what a master teacher is, or how to recognize one, but it hasn't really changed my feeling on how to most efficiently move people down the path to mastering teaching skiing (maybe not the same as master teacher), and that would be all of the thngs that most training programs are weak on or lacking from my experience and that is a good general non skiing specfic "foundational knowledge" coming in of teaching/learning skills and all the related bio-mechanic, physiology, and kineseology fudamentals that are really only given passing recognition. maybe this is because they really aren't suited for delivery on the snow. Context on the snow, but not the basic info we give context to. Isn't it putting the cart before the horse to try to develope good ski teachers without this "basic" foundation in related science and teaching skills? You know, keep applying yourself, you'll figure it out someday. Doesn't the path to the "simple side of complexity" require knowledge outside of what is aquired on the snow?

Doesn't more general but related knowledge up front, transfer to quicker mastery of the ski specific knowledge, and wouldn't someone with mastery in teaching and this related foundational knowledge, move to mastery in teaching skiing quicker than simply the excelent skier, with no mastery in teaching or foundational skills. Haven't we all been exsposed to the latter, and wouldn't we all rather have the former on our team or teaching us?

Quoting Einstein from his book of essays, The school should always have as it's aim that the young man (or woman) leave it as a harmonius personality, and not a specialist. This in my opinion is true in a certain sense even for technical schools, whose students will devote thenselves to quite definite profession. The developement of general ability and independant thinking and judgment should always be placed foremost, not the aquisition of special knowledge. If a person has mastered the fundamentals of his (or her) subject and has learned to work independantly, he will surely find his way and besides will be better able to adapt himself to progress and changes than the person whose training pricipally consits in the aquiring of detailed knowledge."

I remebered Einstien having something to say on education besides the often quoted "Learning is experience, everything else is just information." Later, Ric.
post #63 of 97
Nolo you must have been posting while I was "slowly" writing. Anyway I agree with your last post and I think Einstein does also. Thanks for making me think this out. Later, Ric.
post #64 of 97
Originally Posted by nolo

motivation can transcend personal limitations.
That's in the same category as giving something a 110% effort. Both are impossible.

100% is all there is. Belief me, I took math in high school.

If a limitation can be transcended then it was never a true limitation to begin with so nothing was really transcended.
post #65 of 97
Thread Starter 

In your opinion, which would make a better teacher, one for whom the learning was easy or one for whom the learning was hard (assuming both achieved the same level of learning)?

We transcend our personal limitations when we do what we (and others) never dreamed was possible. When I was in grade school I read a book called Champions by Setback, sort of an athletic Profiles in Courage, that told of people who succeeded in athletics in spite of enormous physical challenges. I wish I could cite more of the facts about the high school wrestler (from Georgia?) who was a state champion in spite of significant physical birth defects, because he would make a great example. Since I cannot, I give you Helen Keller.
post #66 of 97
My contention is with the usage of the term limitation. I strongly agree with your belief that personal challenges, which to some appear insurmountable, can be overcome. That's precisely why I reject a liberal usage of the limitations label. People typically place the limitation threshold of an observed challenge well below the reality. It can become a self imposed mental barrier if one allows the concept of an inaccurate limitation threshold to permeate their psyche. It can also be used as a convenient excuse, a reason to not try and thus avoid the pain of expected failure. As a coach I don't tolerate such surrender.

Limitations do in fact exist, but their ultimate influence on possibilities should only be acknowledged after an extensive process of intense, long term exploration. They can't be assigned arbitrarily with any degree of accuracy, and I reject such attempts. As I said before, if a limitation can be overcome then it was never truly a limitation to begin with, and should not have been perceived to be.

I can offer another good example of one who has transcended inaccurate limitation labels. I only know her by what I've read here on this web site, but from what I've learned of her pursuit of excellence in skiing Disski definitely has my respect.
post #67 of 97
Thread Starter 
motivation can transcend personal limitations
Motivation is the key word in the sentence, Rick. Motivation is also the key to training, IMHO. Conversely, de-motivation is the poison in the well of knowledge.

Ask yourself, what de-motivates people, who were for some reason attracted to the profession, so that they approach training with cynicism or fatalism. e.g. "what's the point of working hard when I might as well be invisible to these people who really don't give a flying .... whether I succeed or quit?"

And another old saw we hear in training: "Your students won't care what you know until they know that you care," could also be practiced with instructor training to great benefit.

(Disski is a skiing champion in my eyes too.)
post #68 of 97
Thanks you guys....

but while my ego(sense of self worth etc whatever) is strong enough to be affronted when my work is rubbished I am also quite aware of all the other inputs to that success... to name a few

1) My instructors - truely caring & motivating people
2) The other instructors who took the time to watch & encourage me when it really seemed I may never progress beyond blue groomed runs
3) People on this forum who did likewise - to name a few, both of you, SnoKarver (where are you Sno?) Keetov, Bob Barnes, Vera
4) Challenge Aspen, & a few other ski schools - very helpful....
5) Ant & Oz who had the guts to agree to take me skiing

Remember it is all the SMALL things that add together - Read 1 & 2 & please all strive to do your small parts - they DO matter....
post #69 of 97
Oh & re the limitations bit .... I think my instructors being smart enough to ban the "c" word from my vocabulary was a BIG step.....

Funny how stopping saying "I can't" really embedded the idea in my head that I COULD - we just hadn't learnt HOW yet
post #70 of 97
& a quick story re "persisting" when your chosen profession can feel like a waste of time....

I once had a customer that was particularly rude when I tried to fulfill the legal & professional obligations I had to run through before providing him with medication for his wife (who was in severe pain - hence his rudeness)...

A week or 2 later he reappeared during the daylight hours - sought me out - I did not remember him.... He told me he had been quite difficult & then pointed to the door where his wife was just entering.... "That is my wife. She is just out of hospital after having her tumour removed. The specialist says you saved her life. So I have come to say, when people like me are rude just keep doing your job well. If you save one life it is important to the person like me who would lose the loved one"
I had insisted he see a doctor in the morning & request a specialist appointment as I was unhappy with the history he gave.

When my patients are being rude & horrid I remember the ONE who had the guts to admit his poor temper (it was understandable) & return to thank me...
They may be few & far between - but they are the tip of the iceberg
post #71 of 97
[quote ... fckkk this new interface is missing quotes] Is there a way to fast-track instructors to mastery? What changes would be required in the average mountain school's training program? Would the changes involve the PSIA division as well (e.g., certification training and or requirements)? [end quoute]

There is no fast track. The will and drive comes before the goal.

Ski Instruction needs to find its gnarly roots again, needs to harness the energy of the possessed instead of the rote, needs to find life n joy n wonderment in just doing, needs to throw of the shackles of normality and conformity and little bits of paper n profits to shareholders.

Hey one more week till ski season starts …. I wonder if we will once again be graced with snow in this flat desert.

Did I ever tell youse all that Disski is one passionate skier. Makes nice turns as well.
post #72 of 97
Originally Posted by philay
Ski Instruction needs to find its gnarly roots again, needs to harness the energy of the possessed instead of the rote, needs to find life n joy n wonderment in just doing, needs to throw off the shackles of normality and conformity and little bits of paper n profits to shareholders.
I couldn't agree more. I know I am new to these forums, but just a little bit about me, I've been a ski instructor for 10 years, and at 25 just attained my PSIA level III cert. So now that you know that, I agree that the biggest problem I see in ski instruction in complacency in the accepted norms. As an industry we tend to be too slow to adapt to changes (look at the pace that Big Mountian and Newschool skiing have become mainstream) and our training is based on the wrong market. We, as instructors are trained to teach the stereotypical 40 year old who wants to enjoy the sport, and while there is nothing wrong with this, it causes us to be so focused on this portion of the market that we neglect the younger, up and coming skiers that are not content skiing passively.

I have seen too many good up and coming instructors turned away from teaching because they were not allowed to teach what their students wanted to learn (mainly jumping and some freestyle stuff). So, not only are we loosing potential customers, but we are also loosing new instructors (because they are made to feel like outcasts for being different than the standard run of the mill instructor).

Now, getting back to the original topic, I honestly think that the best way to improve training overall is to embrace the younger instructors, especially those that have gained the knowledge, ability, and technical know-how (certifications). This industry needs some "new blood", it needs energy, and it needs instructors and trainers that want to push the sport further, not just go along for the ride.

What I find sad though, is that the "new blood" is there, but no one seems to want to admit it or give them the chance.
post #73 of 97
Originally Posted by philay
Did I ever tell youse all that Disski is one passionate skier. Makes nice turns as well.

Thanks Oz ... passionate skier - yes.... I'm a very passionate person though - so the skiing should be seen in perspective - I try to allow the passion to continue to exist in EVERYTHING I really want to be doing.....

Turns - I wish I could ski HALF as well as you... or maybe QUARTER.... I'd die for that balance....
post #74 of 97
Thread Starter 
Hello Manus, and welcome to EpicSki!

...our training is based on the wrong market. We, as instructors are trained to teach the stereotypical 40 year old who wants to enjoy the sport...
You go on to say that there's nothing wrong with this except it neglects our other markets. I would add that it's always been difficult for children's specialists to pass PSIA Level III, which tends to support your observation. Indeed, PSIA divisions have embraced the Children's Accreditation (ACE) to give children's instructors an avenue in which to distinguish themselves outside of Level III (which might be out of reach of some of our finest children's instructors).

I earned my ACE a couple of years ago and a couple of decades after earning Level III. It was a good curriculum and a demanding process to earn the accreditation. However, I am uneasy about separating children's instruction out of certification, because I feel it perpetuates the stereotype that children's instruction is less serious than adult instruction and that children's instructors are not as highly skilled as adult instructors (by assuming they can't pass Level III).

ACE has enabled the Level III curriculum to focus on the adult market. There has been a movement to include pipe and park instruction in the Level III requirements. A few years ago, D-Team members were "required" to pass ACE and now there's talk of including pipe and park in the D-Team Tryout (though it does not appear to have happened at the recent tryout).

However, because ageism is a perennial charge leveled against Level III, I rather doubt pipe and park will be included in that exam.

In conclusion, the facts support your observation, and the trend at Level III is toward certifying adult instruction specialists and less toward certifying the instructor who can teach anyone who walks in the door.
post #75 of 97
Magnus, even those skiers that you view as being passive can be very passionate about their skiing. Stereotyping is a door that swings both ways. What we need to be training for is giving each and every individual skier we teach what they feel they want, and also what they need. We can do both and still fuel the passion. We should steer clear of stereotyping period.

What you say about your freinds leaving the profession is sad. for the most part I agree with what you say about the business. Fortunately, that's not the attidude in my locker room. I like to think I simply teach skiers. Of all ages. Hopefully I can help them find more of what Disski has, an undying passion for skiing.

Later, Ric.
post #76 of 97
Ric, I was not trying to stereotype anyone on the snow, I was trying to show that there really is a clear difference between skiers, not necessarily defined by age or ability. And you are right, passion is not defined by how aggressive someone is on snow it is defined by their love of the sport (no matter what level they wish to get to).

Nolo, I agree, there really isn't all that much about kids in attaining level III (other than knowing some of the physical differences that can become limitations and how to get through them), however I do believe that to go above level III you must have gone through childhood specialist training. Also, about the park and pipe becoming somewhat intertwined with Level III and D-Team, I think its a good idea, for level III it gets into the diversity aspects (specifically banking - hitting the vert in a pipe, and extremely dynamic balance - low level park stuff) as far as D-Team goes, I think it should be there since too often I see people that no longer want to learn anything new, and as leaders in ski instruction, they would be showing how even when you attain something as high as D-Team, there is still and will always be more to learn.

I did take the PSIA-E park and pipe basic skills and safety event this past season, and it was a blast, and we covered the whole age range (best guess would be from 17 - around 60) as well as from both alpine and nordic backgrounds. While I found it somewhat dissapointing at how few people got involved, I was relieved to see the diversity of people we got at the event. Hopefully, more people will get involved next year and the program can expand into its planned 3 parts.

What I found most rewarding in that event was the diversity of people and the crossing of knowledge/respect. It showed me that there are people that are always looking to learn something new, just unfortunately, not that many. And this parallel's my point in bettering overall training, how many trainers are always looking to learn something new? Ric, if you are saying you work/associate with a very progressive group of people/ski school, then you are luckier than I.
post #77 of 97
A cornerstone of teaching in RM is Guest Centered Teaching. If a kid wants air give him air.

I know my boss will argue teaching kids is no hindrance to attaining a level III cert. She ran our kid's center for several years while getting her level III and then transitioned to assistant snowsports director.

Why would teaching kids hinder the cert process?

This year the level III exam included skiing in a pipe. We also have a Freestyle I and II accred.
post #78 of 97

Reflections on teaching/learning

As a classroom teacher and someone who recently learned to ski, I think a lot about teaching and learning and I could relate to many things said in this thread.

I think there are no absolutes about teachers. My husband only snowboards a couple of years but he is an excellent teacher-- especially of beginners. His own learning experience is fresh in his mind and, because he learned as an adult, he instinctively relates to some of his new students' problems. I often see him on the learning slope holding his students' hands as they take their first slides on the board. He assured me he takes plenty of ribbing from some of the other instructors for this, but he says he learns a lot about the student from their hand-- their fear, their tension, their balance, etc. and it helps him guide them through the lesson. He fell off the lift regularly when starting to snowboard, so one of his priorities is teaching his beginners to get off the lift without falling. In some ways I am surprised that he is just a good teacher. He doesn't work with people a lot. I think it is his love of snowboarding that makes him want to share it.

My favorite ski instructor is kind of silly. Makes the lesson a lot of fun. Had me doing the Munchkin Shuffle all the way down a black to learn to move from the waist down. He's been skiing all his life, but he finds a way to relate to learners on every level.

I learned initially because I was really motivated even though the first two tries were dismal. Finally I took a beginner weekend. It was spring and uncrowded. One instructor really stuck with me. I used to hear his voice in my head for a long time.

Now, as I get ready for my school day, I wonder about the difference in students. Many of mine don't want to be there, and don't always want to do what I have planned. Getting to know them as individuals and making it fun helps a lot, when I can manage it. Making it safe to fail at something new. They were a lot more interested in learning on our ski trip this winter.
post #79 of 97
Well Manus, first I'll say that we don't have a park or pipe at Bridger Bowl, but we do have excellent natural terrain features, so I have to say that I have no pipe experience. What we do have in our locker room is a very free spirited, all skiing/boarding is good attidude. Our training could certainly be improved, but our mostly young and very passionate instructors do a great job at giving our customers what they want.

In many ways our locker room culture simply reflects the local ski culture in Montana. Talking upper level ski lessons, our local skiers come to Bridger to ski steeps, bumps, powder, and tight technical shots. Even at lower levels the passion about skiing powder is evident when the new skier to Bridger Bowl is greeted by only a few groomed runs on a powder day. Yes, it's a localy owned non-profit, and a true skiers (and boarders) mountain, and I do feel fortunate to teach there.

Rusty, do all the areas in your division have a terrain park and pipe, and if not, how does the division approach helping these instructors with gain experience and knowledge of this? Later, Ric.
post #80 of 97
Thread Starter 

Why there's ACE


Think about it, would the PSIA divisions have had to create ACE if children's instructors were getting to Level III? By the same token, would the Master Teaching Accreditation in the East have ever seen the light of day if those instructors were getting to Level III?

Both avenues were necessary to satisfy the needs of unsuccessful Level III candidates. And both avenues have exceeded the expectations embedded in their original purposes.

What do you folks think of the idea of PSIA establishing a Level IV (Master Instructor Level) for people who attain Level III, MTC, and ACE? Should we add a Level II in a second discipline to get the Level IV?

Or is PSIA entirely too Boy Scouts as it is?
post #81 of 97
I don't know jack about what cert levels were created for what reasons, but from a consumer's viewpoint I'll offer this thought. With much of the ski school business coming from the Children Centers, I think having these instructors attain the ACE cert can only add credibility to the Children Centers who employ these instructors.
post #82 of 97

I don't equate the creation of kid's accred as an "alternative" track for folks who don't pass the level III. I don't know enough about what they are doing in the east vis a vis "Master Accred" to opine.

In all honesty we have 200 instructors and I would guess four or five kids kids accreds. Three are level II certs who work part-time and are in the childrens center most of the time. The other two are level III certs, one runs the kids center and one is the former childrens center director who is now the asistant director.


No, I can think of examples of areas that do not have a pipe. I don't know of any sans park. Division level III clinics are held at areas with a pipe. When I passed there was no "pipe" requirement. Bob is obviosly better able to explain the requirement, however, I went to a clinic where folks practiced in the pipe. The deal was a vertical ride up the wall and you had to get a prescribed distance (one ski length?) from the lip prior to a 180.

It scared the wits out of me when I first dropped in but after a while it wasn't too bad. I felt a little silly at age 49 vieing with 12 year olds for space but it's fun.
post #83 of 97

"Both avenues were necessary to satisfy the needs of unsuccessful Level III candidates."

I know of two instructors in our school who have received their Master Teacher pin. Neither of them have ever taken a L3 exam, but one of them is preparing to eventually do so while the other probably wiil not. One of the features of Master Teacher is that once one has it, one only needs to pass the skiing part of L3 to get the gold pin.

When the Master Teacher program was introduced, the intent was to increase the emphasis on the importance of teaching skills. An "additional" idea was to offer an additional growth path that would also appeal to people who were never going to go for Level 3. At our school, there is not a great need for the skiing skills associated with level 3 relative to the need for the teaching skills associated with level 3. With 95% of the staff teaching part time and >50% being relatively over experienced age-wise, there are many who do not have the time or energy to invest in a quest for level 3. For these people, the master teacher program offers a path where a defined level of effort can be budgeted towards achieving a result that will have a positive impact on their teaching duties.

It's always been a shock to me when someone fails level 3 teaching. Although one could make the argument that the teaching segment is just as difficult as the skiing segment, it seems to me that it is easier to prepare for the teaching segment. We have such great examples to model between our own school and the PSIA clinics that we take. Add in our own experience and the huge volume of study material available and there are (IMHO) only two possible reasons for failing: you did not study hard enough/misjudged what you needed to know or you just did not "test well". I get the sense that passing the two exams for Master Teacher is easier than passing the single L3 teaching segment, but I don't get the sense that this is intended to help people who failed/ can not pass L3 teaching.

But I sense the thrust of the comment was for people who fail the skiing portion of the level 3 exam. Certainly there are some people who take L3 skiing who just will not ever pass (because they will never put the amount of time/effort required to get their skiing where it needs to be). Although I'd argue that this should be a small percentage, it really does not matter whether the real number is 2 or 30%. My point is that there are many more Level 2s who will never take a L3 exam. PSIA's focus for level 3 is to make it clear what one needs to do to pass as opposed to making life better for those who fail. Every examiner I've ever met would be tickled pink to pass every candidate at an exam. The focus of the master teacher program is to create additional development opportunity for both Level 3 candidates (whether they pass or fail) and Level 2 teachers who have no intent to try for level 3.

So far the results of the Master Teacher program have exceeded expectations. I believe this thread has also validated the importance and the need for this kind of program. Nonetheless, there are more things we can do to improve the teaching skills in our profession. Thanks to all who contribute to this dialog in attempt to move in that direction.
post #84 of 97
Therusty said, "At our school, there is not a great need for the skiing skills associated with level 3 relative to the need for the teaching skills associated with level 3."

Maybe psia has had it backwards all along. Your statement above would probably fit appropriately in most locker rooms wouldn't it? In the outside world, (meaning outside of ski instruction), the Master designation is reserved for the best of the best. Those who teach the rest of us to do our job. Maybe from a functional and practical point of view, master teacher is what level III should have been all along.

Of course this brings up all sorts of issues regarding the structure of the education, the delivery system for the education, the pay scale, and the food chain in the locker room, and above all the incestuos relationship between psia and ski school management. Later, Ric.
post #85 of 97
Thread Starter 
One of the features of Master Teacher is that once one has it, one only needs to pass the skiing part of L3 to get the gold pin.
Does that go both ways? Is the MTC a prerequisite for L3? If so, kudos to the east.
post #86 of 97
MTC is not a prerequestite for L3 in the east, however, it does qualify as passing the teaching part of the L3 exam (part 1, skiing, typically about a 25-33% pass rate, part 2, teaching, typically about 66% pass rate, but in order to take part 2, you must pass the skiing - and I am just guestimating these figures). The few people that I know are involved in the MTC program did not think that they were ready for the skiing portion, but knew that they were better than level 2 instructors with a strong knowledge background. It seems to follow the idea that sometimes a coach can teach higher than they might be able to attain because they understand the how's and why's.

Most of the people that I know in the MTC program figured they could get their MTC, and then focus on training for the skiing portion (I believe that if they wish to use MTC as passing part 2, they must pass part 1 with 2 or 3 years of getting MTC).
post #87 of 97
Thread Starter 
Would you say that graduates of the MTC program are master teachers, in fact? If so, then we've answered the question of how to develop master ski teachers.

If not, what is lacking that otherwise would qualify them as master ski teachers, in fact?
post #88 of 97
I wouldn't say that a graduate of the MTC program is a "master", but I also would be hard pressed to give that title to anyone. An MTC graduate, is however a very well rounded and well versed instructor, and have prooven that they know a lot about skiing, but, knowledge, understanding and application are three totally different things. Who is to say whether an MTC graduate can actually call upon that knowledge at the appropriate time and be able to find the appropriate words to express their thoughts/ideas. Furthermore there is always the possibility that too much knowledge may cause them to look deeper than they need to and miss the immediate cause of a flaw directly in front of them because they do not truly understand the how's and why's of the body/mind/equiptment/condition (both physical of the student and of the terrain)/terrain (pitch more so than condition) interaction.

I think the ideas and concepts behind the MTC program are a step in the right direction, but I would begin to define a master ski teacher as someone who knows and understands the principles and fundamentals of skiing and can call upon them at will, but also realizes that they will never know and understand everything, so the master instructor must acknowledge the need to constantly learn new ideas and concepts, and be open minded enough to relalize that lesson might be taught be a 5 year old.
post #89 of 97
Originally Posted by Manus
...and be open minded enough to relalize that lesson might be taught by a 5 year old.
Isn't that the truth! My daughter (now 10) has been stopping me in my tracks periodically for the last several years, with what I refer to as: simple truths. Uncanny what ya can learn from the munchins and their perspective, if/when you can recognize it.
post #90 of 97
If Kids accred was developed as an alternative for level III that put was missed by most of the kid's accred instructors at Copper. I'm guessing here, but between 75% and 90% of the kids accred instructors at Copper already had their level III before getting kids accred. I further suspect that this ratio holds throughout the Rocky Mountain division. What do you think Rusty?
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