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Is there a place in PSIA for the less technically-minded instructor?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have been lucky enough to do some one-on-one and two-on-one skiing with terrific instructors the last few seasons. I recently had one guy (LIII, been teaching for a zillion years) suggest that I should think about instructing as my kids get a little older and I have more time. He spent most of the lesson giving me things to think about from an instructor's perspective (he was also working with my Dad at the time). I was certainly flattered, especially as this instructor usually gives me a hard time about little technical things. (It's always interesting slowing things way down on the easy groomers under lots of scrutiny, when you're usually skiing the steep and deep with no audience. I actually find it *hard* to ski with my Dad when he is having a lesson, because his style of lesson is slow and very technique-focused.)

My question is this. I am a very visual and physical person when it comes to athletics, and learn best by watching and following and learning through muscle memory. I have found that many of the instructors I have skied with are very verbal and technical. Lots of "angulation" of this and "rotary steering" of that, and then all sorts of very wordy breakdowns of this and that technique. I have actually preferred (and learned more from) the less verbal/technical instructors I have skied with, the folks who actually do some skiing, instead of constant stopping and technical terminology. In many cases, these folks are providing just as much analysis, but it's more in the context of my actual skiing and it's not in such technical terms, but a more relaxed, "Yes, that's it right there. Remember that feeling!"

I have a feeling I would gravitate to this more touch, less-technical style of teaching. Is there a place for it in PSIA, or is there a rigid focus on very technical terms and analysis, and a style of teaching that emphasizes specific drills and discussion? I feel as though many instructors are really caught up in the physics of the sport, and not just the physicality. Maybe some of these guys have been in the middle of testing and thus very caught up in the jargon, but I don't know. I've run across it more than a few times.

I know that the jargon and technical analysis and mnemonic devices work for some people, like my Dad, but they don't work all that well for me, and I would imagine there are other students like me. I have great respect for the people who are able to technically analyze every aspect of the physics of skiing, but I tend to talk more about how things should feel when I am discussing sport, because that's what makes sense to me personally.

Would I fit in? Could I run the PSIA gauntlet?
post #2 of 17
I think you'd fit in just fine--as long as you can understand the technical side of it, too. For example, if you were giving a skier like your dad a lesson, he might want to know how something works or why it works that way. You'd want to be able to explain it.

I find that most of the better instructors I know will dial it up or down as the students need, but I think that the very best will tend to ski and not talk for most of the lesson. But, as in most areas, to be able to be pretty simple in your explanations, it is important to really know the details.

All of that said, this doesn't really matter much at all through level I certification, and perhaps even most of level II.
post #3 of 17
Moll,

You'd do great. It's actually bad form for an instructor to start using technical terms to students unless you are sure the student knows the same definition that you do, so that there's no confusion.

But when we ski and talk with other instructors (and places like here, where everything is typed/verbal) we throw technical terms around like bead necklaces at Mardi Gras. If you do become an instructor, you'll soon learn all the terminolgy, and would need to know it for LII and LIII exams. But outside of that, feel free to just tell your students to watch and follow, or whatever works best for them. MOst people at the intermediate and below levels learn best by watching anyway.
post #4 of 17
Moll,

PSIA is a professional organization that serves to promote the sport and help you develop your skills as a professional. It's up to the organization to adapt to your needs, not the other way around. We have plenty of members and leaders in the organization who are "not technical". The "techies" are obviously drawn to this medium because it serves us well. The non-techies aren't here because, well, you need to be at least a little techy to be here, don't you?

The very best pros can not only teach to all styles of learners, but they can also recognize your preferred learning style and adapt their presentation accordingly. You do not have to have this ability in order to be a successful instructor. If you love the sport and get pleasure from helping others, by all means try instructing. You can teach without becoming a PSIA member. It may not make sense financially to join. But if you do, PSIA would love to help you along and will greatly appreciate whatever contributions you can bring to our profession. We're a big family, but we've always got room for one more at the table.
post #5 of 17
mollmeister,

The answer is an unqualified YES! PSIA needs instructors that can connect with students in a variety of ways.

Remember that you are getting a lot of information based upon this forum. Which is word based not physically based. Thus the cross section you've seen is skewed. I've found that most students respond better to quick "here's what we're going to do" followed by doing than a massive data dump. therusty has hit the nail (again) in his statement on the best pros/teachers.

Now comes the shameless plug for my preferred ski teaching specialty. If you like teaching by showing and doing, then consider teaching adaptive. Working with special needs kids and adults with developmental disabilities requires you to shut up and teach by doing and showing. It also requires you to think out your approaches to problems and solutions. Its a great way for all instructors to hone their skills. Think about it, its a blast.
post #6 of 17
My opinion, the K.I.S.S. method is the best. Personally, I don't even wear my pin because I don't want other instructors to feel they have to watch their words around me. Furthermore, I will get "techie" with other instuctors, in some circumstances, however, I will avoid it like the plague with my lessons. Keep in mind, true understanding is not the ability to spit back complicated terms, but to present complicated topics in a way a toddler could understand.

In short, yes, there is definately a place for "non-techie" instructors in PSIA.
post #7 of 17
Mollmeister,
As stated above, yes. A good lesson doesn't have to talk teck as long as the content of the lesson has good technical merrit in the activities persented. Tech talk is something you may need to get certified, but not something you need to impress your class with.

RW
post #8 of 17
mollmiester One of the best Instructors I have ever seen is far from a technical junky. What he does best is show his true love and joy for the sport. I don't know how but somehow he is able teach you something in between his jokes.
post #9 of 17
I wish I had an instructor with your people skills to teach my school field trip kids. The guy they put with us was a big Grump!

Hope you do this, you'd be phenominal!
post #10 of 17

PSIA Teck Talk

Mollmeister, Technical Engineering dissection of skiing turns me off. As those before me have stated there are alot of ways to teach and most of the ones that work best are non technical. You have a good attitude and approach to skiing. Give it a try you might like it.
post #11 of 17
I was doing a psia clinic today and was reminded how technical it can be sometimes. But was also reminded that we get this technical, in order to truly sift it down to essentials which we understand, so that we can simplify and interpret it for our guests.

Some guests are non technical, but some are super technical, and we need this detailed understanding so we can make it simple, or make it detailed, depending on the guest's needs.

The better someone understands the picky technical stuff, the better they can break it down for their students. The best instructors often seem totally non-technical, but let me assure you, those ones know every itty bit and really understand it.
post #12 of 17
I think the military learned long ago that adults learn best by watching and doing, not with class room style training. The army calls it On The Job Training (OJT). I think this would carry over to observing the instructor compared to lots of verbal technical instruction.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner
I think the military learned long ago that adults learn best by watching and doing, not with class room style training. The army calls it On The Job Training (OJT). I think this would carry over to observing the instructor compared to lots of verbal technical instruction.
well I'm glad I never joined the military... 'cause I certainly learn best when I understand what I am supposed to be learning...

watching is useless as I don't "see" what I am watching unless I have a VERY strong idea what to watch...
post #14 of 17
Adult learning does benefit from watch, do, and understand. Most places that cater to adult learners know this and adapt the teaching style.

I think that younger learners benefit from it too. The main thing that keeps us teaching the way we do is tradition.

As ski instructors we need to remember that our students are here to learn to ski, not stand around. I limit my on slope discussions with students to no more than a minute. Then we start doing something. My favorite expression is, "Come on. Its called skiing not standing." As I push off down the hill.

Keep the student involved. Thats the key to the teaching/learning partnership.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square
As I push off down the hill.

.
that would have me probably push off to coffee shop....

if you are not going to tell me what we are trying to achieve I tend to feel less than sure you actually give a rats about teaching me... especially when I'm asking and you're ignoring as you head off down the hill....

hate that crap...

are you teaching me or should i have brought the HH video with me today?
because all the "show" in the world can be done on video and i can slow motion the video better than you....
so unless this is MY lesson I'm not interested in how pretty you can ski... and I need to understand to allow me to start to learn...
post #16 of 17
disski,

You seem to have missed the key; "watch, do, and understand." I like to limit that talking on the hill to a minute at a time to keep my students doing things on the hill. Also to keep their interest up. We do the extensive talking on the lift and standing in lift lines. (Where it makes more sense.) I try to make the most of the time they are spending with me.

Just because I like to keep talk to a minimum on the hill doesn't mean I won't engage in conversation on the hill longer, if it is warranted. In most cases it isn't. Most people learn by doing. If snow isn't sliding under your skis you aren't doing. If you aren't doing, you aren't getting the muscle memory going.

Also, note I stated, "Keep the student involved. Thats the key to the teaching/learning partnership." Teaching/learning is a partnership, it is not a one way street. The Coach/Teacher presents information and must gauge the Client/Student for comprehension. This requires active participation from both. There is nothing passive about this partnership.

Most of my students like the way I present things. The comments I get back are; "I learned something"; "Wow, thats really skiing"; "Man, I never thought I could do that"; "You've help me accomplish what I wanted to achieve". My normal comment back is; "Its not me, its you. All I do present different ideas. You are the one that puts it into your skiing."

Does this mean I haven't blown a lesson. No, but I learn from those and correct what went wrong in my teaching. I also dissect each lesson I give trying to see what worked and what didn't work as well as it should. It is part of being a good Coach/Teacher, constantly improving how you do it.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square
disski,

You seem to have missed the key; "watch, do, and understand." I like to limit that talking on the hill to a minute at a time to keep my students doing things on the hill. Also to keep their interest up. We do the extensive talking on the lift and standing in lift lines. (Where it makes more sense.) I try to make the most of the time they are spending with me.

Just because I like to keep talk to a minimum on the hill doesn't mean I won't engage in conversation on the hill longer, if it is warranted. In most cases it isn't. Most people learn by doing. If snow isn't sliding under your skis you aren't doing. If you aren't doing, you aren't getting the muscle memory going.

Also, note I stated, "Keep the student involved. Thats the key to the teaching/learning partnership." Teaching/learning is a partnership, it is not a one way street. The Coach/Teacher presents information and must gauge the Client/Student for comprehension. This requires active participation from both. There is nothing passive about this partnership.

Most of my students like the way I present things. The comments I get back are; "I learned something"; "Wow, thats really skiing"; "Man, I never thought I could do that"; "You've help me accomplish what I wanted to achieve". My normal comment back is; "Its not me, its you. All I do present different ideas. You are the one that puts it into your skiing."

Does this mean I haven't blown a lesson. No, but I learn from those and correct what went wrong in my teaching. I also dissect each lesson I give trying to see what worked and what didn't work as well as it should. It is part of being a good Coach/Teacher, constantly improving how you do it.
T-square...

I trust that I know you would NOT do that to me...

However i have been the victim of these "enough talking just do it" type instructors.... enough comes at the point that the STUDENT asks THEM questions... usually ones that they do not really feel they can answer - you can see it on their face!

The ones I respect are those that say "ummm i may need to think about that." or "I don't know lets think about it" or similar... these ones are admitting that we have a communication problem and committing to solving it...

the "too much talk lets ski" brigade are usually to egotistical to admit they have been caught out or stumped....

I'll take the other type.... and don't REALLY care if they don't know/understand THAT bit.... I can always put it on hold for anther instructor on another day..... what the issue boils down to is telling ME that my need to understand is NOT useful.... THAT sucks... instructors that ignore students are NOT suitable to be instructors I think... they should look for another career as they are not suited to teaching OR they are past it and need to retire! If their head swells that far they need to rest it!
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