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Lesson Plans

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Before we get too many replies to this, I've taken the liberty to get a new thread started:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Orwell
I appreciate the comments made on this thread. I have a more specific request. Assuming we are aiming to ensure our guests have lessons that stress safety, fun, and ways to improve, how do we best achieve these goals?

I am starting my second year as a ski instructor and am PSIA Level 1. The stepping stones approach in PSIA seems sound, but how exactly should you incorporate them into a 90 minute lesson? For example, I think it is important not to introduce too many points in a single lesson, but what is the right balance? I don't want a cookie cutter approach, but rather a variety of lesson plans that one could pull out from memory depending on the skill level, age, fitness, and natural talent of the guests in the class, not to mention the conditions. I am particularly looking for lesson plans that would accommodate 90 minute classes from levels 1 - 5. Thanks for your help.

Tom Orwell
post #2 of 22
Probably setting goals for each lesson would inspire an approach that's generally appropriate and can be adjusted for student circumstances.

For example, let's say you want a first lesson to get the students to the point of being able to turn left and right in a wedge and ride a lift. Where I work, that's the goal of a two-hour beginner lesson. You start out doing all the preambles to your goal like off-skis boot work, on-skis sliding/balancing and climbing/controlling, etc. and, if your time permits, you actually get reliable turns left and right, so you go to a lift, remembering you need time to return to base before the lesson ends. Say you can't get reliable turns left and right. Then you remain at the practice area and just talk briefly about using the lift after good turns develop.

That's how I try to use the stepping stones ideas.
post #3 of 22
In a beginer lesson (any lesson) my first goal is to get to know the student, and how they expect learning to ski will be for them. This will give you a window into the individual. Their expectations, physical capabilities, and their attidude about themselves. The last two are very important.

I do all this while we are moving around in our boots, exploring sensations and fundamental movements we will use after our skis go on. At this stage you will start to see how a student moves and which direction in the stepping stones to take later on. the beauty of the steeping stones, as I see it, is that you can change course at any time. You can jump lateraly from one direction to another at any time. This is important. A teacher shouldn't go into a lesson with a beginer thinking they will stick to it because it is the "best way". And don't be afraid to be creative. Your exercises don't need to look like the drills in the manual, they just need to address the skills/movements that the drills in the manual are addressing.

In my opinion, all lessons should have the ability to evolve with the student. If we can't do this then we are just using a cookie cutter approach. In the begining Tom, look to your own life and into the lives of your students to find ways to break out of the "drill" rountine and introduce the fundamentals students need. Think outside of skiing. It is a journey that ends only if we let it. Later, RicB.
post #4 of 22
Hi Ric!
Do you by chance give skiing lessons someplace in New Hampshire?
Nevils
post #5 of 22
While it's helpful to have a basic outline in mind for a given lesson, I find all you really want is a basic progression for the given lesson (whether its beginner, introductory bumps, whatever), which you then adapt to the student. Once you start teaching your lesson plan rather than focusing on what your student needs, you've gone from a student-centered teaching approach to a teacher-centered one, and you're going to be wasting your students time and money, as well as your own time.

If you set a goal, have a plan to reach that goal, and aren't afraid to change your plan to suit your student, then you'll generally have a good lesson. Being able to do that well is really just a matter of experience - reading pages and pages of possible lesson plans only takes you so far.
post #6 of 22
I tend to design my lessons around what I see from the guests I have at that moment. While we're still standing and waiting for the lesson to start (this is group lessons, of course, the most challenging to teach), we'll be talking about where they're at and what they want, but when they start to ski, that's where I plan out what we'll do. I find I have a general plan of progression and terrain based on their goals and what I'm seeing before me, but things always change. They might learn much faster, or they might have difficulty with something, so the lesson gets re-planned to account for that.

I often comment to my groups that I never teach the same lesson twice, and I never really know where we're going to be at the end. It's all entirely driven by them, their progress and their preferences. Group lessons often turn into a collective of private lessons anyway, as each person deals with the learning differently.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by nevils View Post
Hi Ric!
Do you by chance give skiing lessons someplace in New Hampshire?
Nevils
Ric teaches at Bridger Bowl near Bozeman, MT.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by nevils View Post
Hi Ric!
Do you by chance give skiing lessons someplace in New Hampshire?
Nevils
Sorry I didn't answer sooner Nevils. As Knealle said I'm a long ways away from New Hampshire. I'm sure there are other instructors in the listing in your area though. later, RicB.
post #9 of 22
As the above replies state, having a plan for the lesson before you get to the lesson can lead to frustration on the part of students and instructors. Granted, having a variety of experiences upon which to draw will help you craft a plan after you meet the students is invaluable, but if you don't have those experiences, what to do???

Read
Watch
Experiment

Read books such as the Core Concepts, Stepping stones, Tactics for All-mountain Skiing, etc. Realize that what you read isn't to be applied exactly to all students

Watch - watch videos of effective skiers and skiing. See how the body moves, how the skis move. watch this with trainers at your area, ask question after question after question.

Experiment - this means teach lessons. Try to avoid having a set approach in mind as you'll likely find the students don't fit the set approach. You can't do a Vulcan mind meld or a download from a USB port to your brain and inherit the knowledge and experiences of other instructors, but you can develop the experiences by trying different approaches to the situation. Don't be afraid to have one completely flop. It will and should happen occasionally, but, pay attention to why it didn't work. Explore this with others, maybe even the student if the audience is the right one.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
At my resort we give our rookie instructors a canned level one lesson to teach. It's no wonder second year pros start seeking the same solution for more advanced lessons.

When I was starting out, the magical "bag of tricks" was the secret behind the power of the more experienced pro. The larger the bag of tricks you had, the better pro you were. With a big enough bag of tricks you could solve any lesson need. Alas, appearances were not what they seemed.

Stepping stones and the ATS teaching model are a wonderful framework upon which to build a lesson plan. A bag of tricks can offer a wonderful supply of stuff to hang on the framework and make a lesson seem good. But you still need more. At my resort, we add focus to a lesson plan by isolating one of the four skills (Balance, Edging, Rotary, Pressure) to work on. This is the thread that can help you tie the tricks to the framework. There are other things (e.g. customer service, entertainment, psychological manipulation) that can be added in to the framework and other threadlike tools, but this focus seems to help our rookies the most. Have you asked your training staff for their recommendations?

That said, I recommend that you get the Vail alpine teaching handbook (available from PSIA). At first glance, this would seem like the one stop answer to the question that you asked. However, there are very few shortcuts to experience. This book may seem like one, but it's not. It's simply one more step on a very long road. The more experience you get, the more unanswered questions you will have. You know you're asking the right questions when there are no easy answers.
post #11 of 22
Beware that lesson plans could be thrown into dissary by skiers enrolling
in the wrong lesson or claiming they were better than they were prior to
the lesson. Look at my post A new idea for teaching Beginners/Intermediates. While my ideas are not taught in ski schools some of the replies I have got see my ideas as possible tricks that could be tried for especially "Visual Learners" I am sorry that I am unable to say how you would go about finding out what type of learner a skier was prior to a lesson. Perhaps someone else could answer that.
post #12 of 22
I like to work backwards. Skipping over the student/teacher relationship stuff, which is off course very important, and only talking about the technical part of a lesson, a lesson is --

Activities
Skill Development
Outcome

So to develop your plan in the reverse order --

1. Decide what the outcome should be.

2. Figure out what skills are needed to meet that outcome.

3. Come up with a set of activities to promote those skills.

Plan done, start teaching. Oh yeah, have fun too.
post #13 of 22
I can't imagine building my lesson plan before meeting my students and spending time with them on why they're taking a lesson, what they hope to get, and so on.

Once I understand that, though, my approach aligns pretty much with learn2turn's, only I couldn't say it so well!
post #14 of 22
I really don't see a problem with providing rookie instructors with a base-level lesson plan, as long as the training staff of the resort gives them ways to wander outside of it. I've designed one for my new-bians based on my own experiences and a few of what I believe to be fairly universal truths for our teaching situation. (Terrain is the big one)

1. Never-evers don't have anything wrong with them yet. It's up to you to screw them up, so don't "fix" things that aren't there yet.

2. If the student doesn't trust you, it's over before you even put them on one ski. Let them get to know you. Spend time to get to know them.

3. Tell them about equipment. What it can and CANNOT do. (ie. Poles aren't for stopping.)

4. Rotary skills in the legs, not edging, (On our terrain!) are the ones that will allow our students to feel safest when they do their first bit of sliding.***

There's nothing wrong with a little structure. Rookie instructors need a set of steps to follow the first few times out. It's a good way to make them into "real" instructors fairly quick. There will never be a "canned" progression that will come close to satisfying our diverse layers of students, but there can be a "best fit" philoshophy designed to get rookie instructors on the right track and get some much-needed experience.

***We don't have very good terrain for things like direct parallel, or tip-to-turn lessons. Rotary gives the students a way to get back across the line of gravity (Fall line) in a timely manner and feel safe. (Which, by the by, is instructing 101 stuff. Safety needs come up pretty quickly in Maslow's little pyramid there!) We use rotary to turn in the beginning, not to brake.

I'm sure I'll have to explain more later, but I'm sorta hungry...
Spag
post #15 of 22

Progressions

I want to thank everyone for their comments and particularly (the) Rusty for making my post a new thread. I guess what I am looking for is some source in addition to stepping stones and core concepts that lays out, say two or three dozen progressions, that fit within a 90 minute class. I am trying to develop the right pace, the right balance between too much and too little. I don't want a canned approach but something that will work with the particular guest or group, given their unique characteristics. Thanks again.

Tom Orwell
post #16 of 22
To my way of thinking, "stepping stones" is probably the only thing that comes close to a "canned" progression. I'm still awaiting (with bated breath) a "canned" student that could follow a standard lesson plan.

Admittedly, I mostly teach levels 1 through 4, but a lot of them.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Orwell View Post
I want to thank everyone for their comments and particularly (the) Rusty for making my post a new thread. I guess what I am looking for is some source in addition to stepping stones and core concepts that lays out, say two or three dozen progressions, that fit within a 90 minute class. I am trying to develop the right pace, the right balance between too much and too little. I don't want a canned approach but something that will work with the particular guest or group, given their unique characteristics. Thanks again.

Tom Orwell
Tom, do you have the Vail/BC Alpine Teaching Handbook that therusty mentioned? It's item 172 from PSIA national, and it's basically this (3+ scenarios and progressions for each level skier 1-9).
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Orwell View Post
I want to thank everyone for their comments and particularly (the) Rusty for making my post a new thread. I guess what I am looking for is some source in addition to stepping stones and core concepts that lays out, say two or three dozen progressions, that fit within a 90 minute class. I am trying to develop the right pace, the right balance between too much and too little. I don't want a canned approach but something that will work with the particular guest or group, given their unique characteristics. Thanks again.

Tom Orwell
Hi Tom,

Let me second all those who have suggested you procure the Vail/BC book or any other book with drills.

Then let me make this suggestion. Take the individual exercises and start to dissect them, looking at what skills they are designed to enhance, how they would fit in an overall development progression or be used as corrective exercises. How can you use the same drill in differing turn shapes, terrain or speed? In doing this you will actually start to develop your own progressions/bag of tricks (as well as a greater depth of understanding) you can then choose from based on student needs and not be following a rote format that may or may not meet your student’s needs.

I like where you are going! In the current issue of PGA magazine there is a fascinating interview on teaching with Jim Flick who has been one of the premier instructors for both tour pros and the average Joe golfer for almost 50 years. Asked about the art of teaching (and it doesn’t matter whether it is golf or skiing) he stated: “ First of all I put my ego aside for the sake of the student. It is more important to teach a student what he needs than it is to try to fit everyone into a teaching philosophy or to fit everyone into a certain mold and make everybody look the same….. As a teacher it is our job to work with what the student brings to us….There are a lot of ways to play golf and teach the game and our job as PGA teaching professionals is to be versatile enough to respond to the challenge of what the student brings to us.” Your questions show you’re on the path to meeting that challenge!
post #19 of 22
I think so far this is the most important thing for "newer" instructors to do. More expereinced instructors can typically break down the skills mentally and can sometimes avoid the flops, but no one is perfect and no two students are exactly the same, so what may work for one may not work for the other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by schanfm View Post
Experiment - this means teach lessons. Try to avoid having a set approach in mind as you'll likely find the students don't fit the set approach. You can't do a Vulcan mind meld or a download from a USB port to your brain and inherit the knowledge and experiences of other instructors, but you can develop the experiences by trying different approaches to the situation. Don't be afraid to have one completely flop. It will and should happen occasionally, but, pay attention to why it didn't work. Explore this with others, maybe even the student if the audience is the right one.
Personally, I have issues with "preplanned" lessons, but they can be helpful for new instructors (especially at level 1). However, I instead tend to have guidlines in mind, and will first find out what my students want to learn, and then I watch them ski, and especially in a group situation, focus on the fundamental issues that will benefit them all (a lot of the time balance is the root of all evils, no matter what level).

Its been my experience that students learn more when they're having fun and not being drilled or forced to ski like robots. And I'll tell you this, when I was starting out as an instructor, I had plenty of flops, but they typically got a few laughs, and even though the exercise flopped, my students would laugh and loosen up and it would be easier to get improvements in their skiing.
post #20 of 22
Some kind of basic framework for a lesson to follow can sometimes hang off the terrain available. This is at the lower levels, of course. Their terrain is often quited limited, and what happens in the lesson will often depend on the terrain that the lesson proceeds to.
post #21 of 22
I teach mostly multi-week kids program so I have a pretty good idea what my group will be when I show up at the mountain. Sometimes, I'll write out a multi-activity lesson plan for the day and put it in my pocket. Now, here's the thing. On a good day, I'll never even look at it and not do a single activity on my plan! I might show up at the mountain take a warm up run and say, "Oh gee, the conditions are like .... today. Hey, you know what would be fun? Let's work on .... today." That's just great. But it does help knowing I have that plan in my pocket. I have reassurance that if I needed to, I could pull a lesson off by the book. Knowing I have a fall back, gives me the confidence to throw the book away and just wing a really good lesson on the fly.
post #22 of 22

Progressions

I want to thank everyone who added to this thread.

Tom Orwell
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