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Tips for Studying for L2 Teaching

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Passed PSAI_E L2 Skiing last season. I'm taking L2 Teaching this year. Anyone care to share their tips for preparing for the exam? What to study, etc.?

I work at a mid-to-small mountain. Virtually all the 5+ skiers go to people who already have silver pins, I get school group kids in the 4-5, occasionally 6, range but outside of that, I get maybe two level 6 lessons a year. So, it's mostly studying with other instructors and book learning.
post #2 of 17
Congratulations on passing your L2 skiing. When I was preparing for my level 2 teaching, I spent a lot of time leading clinics for people going for there level 2 skiing. It is good to have someone shadow these clinics that can give you feedback when you are finished. I used this technique when I was preparing for my level 3 teaching as well. Another thing I have found helpful is to video a short clinic, and review it. It is amazing how helpful this can be for fine-tuning your presentations. Good Luck, Tim
post #3 of 17
Kudos on passing your L2.If you go to the PSIA-E website you can down load the L2 exam study guide. In that you will find the criteria for L2 teaching. Get yourself familiar with all the modules. I did the same thing for my exam as Tim did. I clinic those training for there skiing. We also had specific clinics at our home mountain for exams. Do you have any examiners at your home mountain? Try and go out with new L3's that are familiar with the new format. I also found the Pro-Jam to be extremley helpful with an entire week devoted to teaching, and of course always lots of skiing. Good Luck! Terry

Ps -try to enjoy the process and have a good time!
post #4 of 17
Great advice. The written exam has q's from the core concepts manual. The Alpine Technical Manual and the Study Guide also have a lot of information that may be on the written. A Children's manual is also good to review. Teaching kids, you should have good class handeling skills and also work safety in (part of your teaching score). How you present your teaching modules is very important. Get the experience teaching your peers, or even in front of L3's if possible, will help you prepare. In the past, the 4 modules have been creative teaching, technical teaching, movement analsys, and your ski area. The exam quide will explain what the modules are. Movement analsys and creative teaching are usually the hardest modules for candidates. Also, try to stay away from a canned rap that someone gives you. It sucks for the examiner and the other candidates (boring). During your teaching, stay away from drills that only use a small part of the hill, like a traverse. Use a good part of each run skiing. Take the hill and divide it in thirds, first demo use a third, second a third and the last, to the lift. Give a spot every one can find, and make it a gathering point (a safe one). Only ski 1/2 way there doing your demo and give feedback to the others passing by and continue your demo while you ski toward them so they see you from all angles. If you can't explain your teaching in 30 seconds max, it is too confusing. Ski, don't talk. Picking sutible terrain is also imperitive. You should know the mountain where you are taking the exam like the back of your hand. If possible, go there before the exam and ski with some instructors from that mountain and find out where they teach the various skills. Aslo, work on your demo's, a bad demo in a exam is hard for everyone to watch and not good for your score (duh).
Hopefully I have given you enough information along with the other good posts here.
Good Luck, and congrats on L2 skiing!

post #5 of 17
If you can't take "official" clinics out, find someone on staff who will let you "mentor" them unofficially. The most important thing for presenting your teaching segments in an exam is to "teach what you have already taught". When you present a well used trick from your bag of tricks, the execution of the teaching is much easier and more fluid. You need to go to your exam with a well stocked bag of tricks because you can not guess ahead of time what your assigned task will be. You need to be able to readily adapt to the assigned profile/module, the needs of the group, the conditions du jour and the terrain that is available.

One of the "undocumented" scoring criteria is "can you make an impact on your peer group members". No matter what your skiing skills are relative to the rest of your group, you should be able to spot a skill weakness that is common to several members of your group (e.g. things that would flunk them from level 3). When you are given your skier profile to teach to, if you present an exercise that also works on your groups weakness, you will get extra points towards passing.

Of course your teaching exercises will include an introduction, a demonstration, practice, feedback and a summary. During your "introduction", you need to present the "why" behind the "what" of the exercise. A lot of people lose points because of lack of feedback or inaccurate feedback. If you've picked your exercise based on the group in addition to the presented profile, you should be able to "catch" some group members "getting it" (positive feedback opportunity) and "catch" some group members who are not doing the exercise correctly (negative or corrective feedback opportunity). Your summary should include "Who, What, How and Why". If you have the chance, point out the "common things to look for". Also be prepared to acknowledge the potential drawbacks of the exercise (e.g. safety concerns, when different snow conditions might make the exercise not work, prerequisite skill levels, etc.).

Keep your exercises short. Whatever time you are given, end at LEAST 2 minutes early (without skipping anything!). If you are given 15 minutes, aim for 10. Do NOT do progressions. Going long is your first sign that you are talking too much and boring the group.

If the examiner starts asking questions when you are done, do not get defensive and do keep your answers short. You still have a good chance for passing. If the examiner says nothing (other than "thank you"), don't worry - you've passed. No matter what you think about how your teaching segment "went", don't worry.

Most teaching segments suck big time compared to how your classes really go. Examiners do a great job of looking past the forced nature of the exam environment and seeing what your "base" teaching skills and knowledge are. If you have taught a lot and done your homework according to the study guide, you can pretty much operate on autopilot and pass.

Movement Analysis is now a big piece of the exam. You can't cheat on this. If you have not got the skill, you won't pass. You need to be able to see "effects/symptoms" and determine root causes. If you report effects (e.g. tails washing out) as causes, you're toast (e.g. instead of identifying over rotation or over pressuring and why there is over/under whatever). If you don't have a good technical knowledge foundation, you can not determine root causes from symptoms. If you need to improve your MA skills, the fastest way to do this is to get the V1 software for your computer and start looking at clips (there are a lot here on epic). The computer is the best way to train your eyes in slow motion to be able to see things at full speed. Practice MA on every lift ride. Memorize the visual cues for effective and ineffective skiing. Examiners can see everything they need to see in 2 turns. Your goal should be being able to see "enough" to put a lesson plan together after seeing 2 turns twice on video or 4 turns on the hill.

Ready for something scary? Get 5 average pros together. Stand at the side of a trail and watch some skiers. Pick one to watch and have everyone describe the skier's balance, edging, rotary and pressure skills (after the skier has passed). I'll bet you that you will have at least one pro describe one skill totally opposite of what another pro sees. Clearly one of them must be wrong. That person should not be able to pass level 2 MA. We did this kind of exercise in every clinic last year. The percentage of non-certified instructors who had trouble describing the skills they were viewing not to mention describing them accurately was shocking. Accurate MA puts you in the top 25% percentage of the profession right off the bat.

It's possible to pass L2 without extensive upper level teaching experience. Use your own clinic taking experience to help make up for lack of teaching at upper levels (pay attention to HOW examiners teach clinics). Make the most of the level 4-5 classes that you do get to teach. Do a mental post mortem after these classes to review what results you achieved and what did not work. Look for level 6-7 skiers from the lift and make up lesson plans.
post #6 of 17
teach what you know. Don't try to second guess what the examiner wants to hear.

If you get a chance to ski with other instructors (for fun or clinics) bounce ideas off them, try exercises with them. Run a "teaching segment" with them and get feedback.

They are a great resource and you just might help them pass any exams they might be working towards by giving them a new idea.

Do your MA practice every chance you get. Spend a day just looking at skiers, (every chair ride) and pick out one skill to study.

For instance, decide one day to look at Rotary skills. Throw out all the other things each skier is doing and figure out what kind of rotary skills they are using, are the movements that they make a result of good or bad rotary skills. Are they cause or effect? How would you fix them. what exercises would you try. As you do this you will learn to see the visual cues much quicker.

The next day, work on Edging, or pressure, or .....
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
These are all great tips. I really appreciate it. I've got turn my brain back into ski instructor mode and this all helps juices start to flow.

Thanx all,



88 days to opening day (weather permitting)
post #8 of 17
A PS: Level 2 teaching is from straight run to open track, so think wedge turn, to wedge cristy to open track and the the skills it takes to get from one to the next, and how terrain also comes into play. We shouldn't teach skills, but what we teach should allow the skills to develope. ie: The skill development it takes to get from wedge turns to wedge cristy. Rotery is---- edge control is ---- pressure control is---- (answers are all in the manual) and how to develope those skills so wedge cristy happens. The same for wedge cristy to open track parallel.
Too many in-house clinics are centered around either personal skiing or upper level skill development which is well and good, but you need to focus on the basic elements.
When doing a teaching segment, remember you have control of the class from the point when it is your turn to teach until the examiner says "thank you". It may be at the base of the hill, so give instructions to the group about what lift, where to meet at the top, etc. Treat it like a group of 6th graders that need instructions. Your teaching background should serve you well in class handeling. Often instructors that only teach adults or clinic a lot and teach a small amount don't do as well as the instructors who are in the trenches. It really shows at exam time.
If you are planning to take the exam at Windham Mountain, let me know (I teach full time there).

therusty, great advice!

post #9 of 17
one thing that I found helped a lot (especially since I worked with school groups as well) was to not plan any lessons. I would have a focus in mind, and just go out and teach. A lot of people have issues with coming up with a lesson plan on the fly, and not planning is a good way to get comfortable just getting up and teaching, you need to be able to teach anything at any time, and have it be effective, clear, and quick (just like exams).
post #10 of 17
You can't go out and "just teach" without a lesson plan and have it be "effective, clear, and quick" unless you've got "muscle memory" for the fundamentals of teaching. For example. new pros have to be taught all the things that need to be in a lesson summary besides "it's over - goodbye". How many of us talk about what is in the next lesson in a lesson summary? Once you've been teaching for a while, lesson planning often consciously becomes "Watch the student, determine the skill weakness, select an exercise and terrain, go". This 20 second effort is easy to feel like it's "not planning", but there is a lot of "unconscious" planning that happens "automatically" from the "just teaching" autopilot.

In my view, lesson planning should happen continuously throughout the lesson. Less experienced instructors do not have the teaching skills to do this unconsciously. They often fail to make adjustments during a lesson to do such things as fix exercises that are not working or change the pace to end the lesson on time. Have you ever had a little bird on your shoulder talk to you during your lesson? That's your unconscious mind trying to communicate something important. New pros might hear the bird once or twice in a lesson. Experienced pros have a running conversation with their unconscious mind throughout the lesson, but they don't get the little bird sensation very often. Other ways to think about this are letting the unconscious mind "drive" or simultaneously performing several actions (e.g. talking to the group, monitoring body language, assessing performance, assessing safety, time management, fun management, monitoring progress towards goals, etc.). To me, that is "just teaching".
post #11 of 17
According to the PSIA-E website, which now has the event schedule online, there's no Level II Part II Exam at Windham this year (just the Part I on Jan 19-20). I'm going for my level II teaching too this year (probably at Pico on Feb 11-12). One thing that I did last year was take a Level II teaching seminar. It was very helpful to all - one person went on to pass her Part II with a 15/16 score. So I might take another one just before my exam, just to reaffirm that I'm going over the right things and practice some stuff in a simulated exam environment.

- Matt
post #12 of 17
I'll second the L2 teaching seminar. I took it up at Sunday River with Peter Howard as the clinician and was just blown away.

I hope I can get him for an L3 teaching seminar too.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
I think I am going to spring for the teaching seminar if I can fit it into my schedule this season. I actually haven't taken a teaching-oriented PSIA event in about five years. I took the old L2 prep went the L2 was one exam but broke my prior leg the following season and had to take a year or so off so that pushed everything back.
post #14 of 17
Peter leads the 5 day L3 teaching seminar at Pro-Jam. This is a great event!
post #15 of 17
I'll go out on a limb here and say don't bother with the teaching seminar. Read all the materials, teach as much and as varied a customer as you can then go to the exam. I'm L3 took 2 x to pass L2 and then 3 years later 2x to pass L3 teaching, got the skiing 1st time. To be honest at that time if they offered a L2 1/2 pin I'd be done. The problem I see with the teaching seminar is that if you are taking it the season you are going for the exam and if the examinaers tell you where some deficiencies are you really are not going to have the time to fix it in your teaching . The big if in all of this is the examiner "telling" you what you might be missing. Trust me it won't sink in with the spoken word. Yes I took the seminar yes I got "feedback" didn't really think I was that bad. Went and failed L2. Then you get the written scorecard and have that long miserable ride back home. You are pissed at the examiners, the process, the weather etc. You go back a read the cards a few weeks later and reflect on what they have WRITTEN. You think about it and start to see they are right you need work on A, B, C etc. You start getting geared up again to go(don't quit) but now you have a focus on what to do. You keep looking at those cards they keep pushing you to clean up your teaching in this case.

Past L2 2nd time felt really prepared, worked a lot harder that time. For L3 teaching took the teaching seminar yada yada yada, same thing from examiner as before nothing hard and concrete in writing. Took the test a few weeks later failed had 9 blocks needed 10 to pass. Now if you want to know a miserable ride home its going home with a fellow instructor who has passed his skiing part on L3 and is sky high and you are not trying to be a wet blanket, that sucked. Again was pissed at the world but the more I looked at that WRITTEN scorecard the more it hit me those examiners were right, I didn't hit on this , this and this. Went back at end of season after having a focus on what needed to be done to pass the test and hit 15/16 blocks (missed 1 on Peter Howards, don't debate the examiner!). For me I found I need the comments on the scorecard to focus on. Is it teaching to pass a test yes it is, but is it really a accurate assesment of your teaching ability when you get 8-10 minutes (you don't get 15 minutes at least not in the east) to work with people in a small group setting. We don't get customers who come and buy a 15 minute lesson.

Yeah I'm ranting a bit here but one thing the process did for me especially in failing is to provide a real desire to learn and become a better ski teacher. I never even wear the pin I gave it to my son , he likes trophies. So study hard but don't be afraid to just go for it and see where you stand. P.S. the friend who past his skiing went at end of season for the teaching ,no seminar, nothing and got it 1st time pass on everthing. So you never know what it will take. Good Luck
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by tcarey
Peter leads the 5 day L3 teaching seminar at Pro-Jam. This is a great event!
That seals it then. I've been hesitant to sign up, but I can't pass that up.
post #17 of 17
L2T - Noticed in the past that a number of your posts (on a variety of topics) showed you already have a pretty good perspective on teaching and skiing in general. Good observations, interpretations and such - not always easy from the written matter found here with all the rambling-rapid conversational typing we often do.

I'm on the other Ocean and we have different Exam formats here. We do a single stand-alone day for the Skiing Module and an unassociated stand-alone day for the Teaching Module. Might seem like too little to properly evaluate a candidate but each Module is well structured and carried out extremely well by Examiners.

If our format is too different from yours to be relevant Then ...never mind... Else:

Here, every candidate performs before two Examiners - each totally independent as to their own evaluation results. A candidate need only pass one Examiner to pass the Module. 'Course, this means both are a little stricter about holding one’s feet to the fire.

In the teaching Module we do the obligatory chatty stuff, a modicum of trailside Movement Analysis (on the Skiing Public while trying to avoid their notice) and an actual Teaching-Segment. We do this entire exercise in the morning before one examiner, then again in the afternoon before the other so ‘A Bad Morning does not a Candidate Break'. People seem to calm down quite a bit by the afternoon session.

L2 Teaching (out here anyway) is mostly about teaching the lower three turn types - Wedge, WC and Open Parallel - to the Skiing Public. Our Teaching-Segment presentation is therefore a bit artificial in nature. For instance we end up teaching other L2 candidates how to do Wedge Turns - awkward since we know that they know how to do Wedge Turns quite well already.

This might create a level of uncertainty if you're at all unsure about the assigned topic. Especially if you’ve got self-confidence issues to begin with. If a candidate believes everyone in the group knows more than they do, they're probably toast. It will mess with their mind and discombobulate their otherwise excellent teaching capability.

Best plan in dealing with it is not to "Teach to the Skiing Public" during the Teaching Segment but rather to "Teach a Teaching clinic to our Peers". Just format the presentation as though presenting information to a group of New-Hires at your ski school. Assume they already know something about teaching whatever topic is drawn but that they need to know exactly how this particular ski school teaches the topic.

From this perspective it’s easy to observe our fellow candidates and give meaningful feedback with confident 'corrections' to their attempts at executing our directions. As instructors themselves, our peers are unlikely exhibit the normal ...deviations... seen in a real ski lesson so we need to introduce 'typical problems' ourself along with appropriate solutions.

Out here we have something called 'Exam Checkpoints' which are one-day Clinic/Exams delivered by an Examiner. These are inexpensive dummy Exams. They run through all the relevant Module Tasks looking for (and reporting to you) obvious weaknesses in skiing or teaching. Format is similar enough to a real exam that you get the idea what they’re looking for and a dry run at actually doing it. Pretty good resource for a first-timer.

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