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Role(s) of the ski school?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
During the discussion about the new PSIA Matrix, I asked how ski schools fit in to propagating the new way of looking at skiing doctrine. It occurred to me that the ski school has a large influence over instruction, certainly in a general fashion, and that the role of ths ski school is seldom discussed, while the role of the instructor gets reviewed constantly, so I decided to throw out a few questions.

What role should the ski school play in maintaining instructor qualifications?

How would a customer know if they are doing this?

How should a ski school interact with PSIA (or similar organization)?

What role should the ski school play in disseminating new doctrines?

What are the best practices in quality control for instructors, and how widespread are the practices?

Does it make a difference what kind of ski school it is (resort owned, concession, traveling, unique system, etc.)?
post #2 of 20
These are my thoughts on these questions, and my answers are based on what we do at the Ski Schools of Aspen.

What role should the ski school play in maintaining instructor qualifications?

The instructors that are in different stages of certification are encouraged to continue their education.

Instructors that are fully certified are required to be up to date on their update clinics. If an instructor is not current, they may be docked in pay after a warning that they need to get their clinics up to date. If the instructors continue not to update their certification, there might be a chance that the instructor in question be terminated.


How would a customer know if they are doing this?

The guest can ask if the school and its Pros are up to date in Modern Contemporary Skiing, and does the school require their Pros to be current with PSIA or any other organization. Most of our Pros wear their pins. If the guest is up to date on Modern Contemporary Skiing, they will know that the school is up to date after a very short time in a lesson from what is being taught.

How should a ski school interact with PSIA (or similar organization)?

By requiring their Pros to join these organizations. Also by requiring their Pros to maintain their certification. By holding event that are associated with the organizations at their areas.

What role should the ski school play in disseminating new doctrines?

I think it’s important that the guests that wish to take a lesson with a school know that the school encourages its members to all be on the same page. That can only be done if the school endorses a certain organization.

What are the best practices in quality control for instructors, and how widespread are the practices?

That the instructors continue to stay current. That the instructors continue to participate in in-house training, required and non required.

Does it make a difference what kind of ski school it is (resort owned, concession, traveling, unique system, etc.)?

No.

Wigs
post #3 of 20
The ski school that I work for requires on snow training for all of it's returning instructors. The clinic leaders are chosen by our technical director who knows how current each one is. Some of the topics for training are suggested by the clinic leaders who have obsurved specific areas of teaching by the staff.

The motivation for our members to become certified comes from the clinic leaders, their skiing ability, technical knowledge and teaching practices. The staff sees how effective teaching works first hand and how it effects their learning. That is motivation enough for them to seek a higher level of certification, or become a PSIA member.

Very often an experienced instructor have things they have developed on their own that can be shared durring a PSIA clinic. There is a give and take relationship in the PSIA E. that benefits everyone in the origanization. I know if I learn something new at a clinic (either from another clinic member or from the examiner), I share it with our ski school when I am teaching a training clinic.

I feel the quality control within the ski school comes in two ways. the first is by the quality of it's clinicians who do the training (and hiring of new staff) and the other is from PSIA and it's certification process.

The customer who has had lessons before whould know if the instructor has keep up on their qualifications by the quality of the lesson the get.

In summary, it is the ski schools job to seek quality clinicians that have the ability to motivate the staff and train the staff so the customer has the best quality experience possible while they are using the ski schools serviceses.

RW
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post

The customer who has had lessons before whould know if the instructor has keep up on their qualifications by the quality of the lesson the get.

I
most of this is nonsense but this is the most glaring. You actually think that a customer could do this? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?

Wigs: Are you saying that the Ski Schools of Aspen only endorse and teach ATS?
post #5 of 20
I think the public as a whole wouldn't have a clue what your qualifications were. They would know if you helped them if you made a differance in their skiing or provided a path to progress. For beginners they would be totally clueless. The more experienced the more likely they would be aware of your shortcomings or value to them.
ATS is the expected theme but if I had something that worked for them from another style or system I wouldn't hesitate to present it to them.
Isn't the goal improvement and attainment of a higher skill level?
post #6 of 20
Originally posted by volklskier-
"Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?"

Well, I'd have to guess that there is surely a better chance of getting a decent lesson from someone who has been keeping their qual's current or working toward certification, as compared to someone who sits at a desk and only teaches part time, with only the mandated pin polishing sessions.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post
Originally posted by volklskier-
"Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?"

Well, I'd have to guess that there is surely a better chance of getting a decent lesson from someone who has been keeping their qual's current or working toward certification, as compared to someone who sits at a desk and only teaches part time, with only the mandated pin polishing sessions.
This has to be true. If your are working daily on your skiing and teaching and getting feedback from trainers and examiners then you are providing a much better value to the customer. So many don't work towards these self improvements step and the quality of their lessons and the value of them suffers greatly.
post #8 of 20
[quote=volklskier1;709373]most of this is nonsense but this is the most glaring. You actually think that a customer could do this? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?



"Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons"?????

What are you being sarcastic? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications is going to hurt the quality of a lesson?
post #9 of 20
[quote=4ster;709412]
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
most of this is nonsense but this is the most glaring. You actually think that a customer could do this? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?



"Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons"?????

What are you being sarcastic? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications is going to hurt the quality of a lesson?
I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think you gotta improve yourself to improve your lessons and doing the least just doesn't cut it. One doesn't necessarily mean the other. All you gotta do is attend a couple in house clinics to keep up your certs.Personal growth through really trying to improve your teaching is how you improve your lessons.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post
Originally posted by volklskier-
"Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?"

Well, I'd have to guess that there is surely a better chance of getting a decent lesson from someone who has been keeping their qual's current or working toward certification, as compared to someone who sits at a desk and only teaches part time, with only the mandated pin polishing sessions.
VSP, you're neck of the woods was quite a bit different. Look at who you had in your school doing the training and leading it for so many years. Forget PSIA vs PMTS you had many top top folks at Vail. Plus you really had a large full time staff. It's a much different animal in the East. The level of everything from front line instructors to examiners is not the same as in your division or other western divisions. Besides that qualifications do not a good teacher make.
post #11 of 20
originally posted by volklskier-

"Besides that qualifications do not a good teacher make."

Of this there is no argument, but when given the choice of a non-current, non-active pro vs a current and active one, I'll go with the latter everytime.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
I didn't want to bias the answers too quickly, so I started with questions, but I have long been an advocate of having ski school management observe its instructors' teaching, and to make constructive changes based on those observations. I don't see how it would matter even what method or philosophy a school had. There is no way to ensure that the philosophy is being applied coherently without observation and feedback. I think this would apply to PMTS or PSIA or CSIA, or Breakthrough on skis, or even Epicski. If there is a central core of beliefs as to what constitutes good skiiing and good ski teaching, on the hill observations have to play a role.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOG View Post
I didn't want to bias the answers too quickly, so I started with questions, but I have long been an advocate of having ski school management observe its instructors' teaching, and to make constructive changes based on those observations. I don't see how it would matter even what method or philosophy a school had. There is no way to ensure that the philosophy is being applied coherently without observation and feedback. I think this would apply to PMTS or PSIA or CSIA, or Breakthrough on skis, or even Epicski. If there is a central core of beliefs as to what constitutes good skiiing and good ski teaching, on the hill observations have to play a role.
This is right on. One of the most important pieces in the quality of lesson is a collaborative evaluation. It is also the hardest to do. It is expensive, usually inaccurate, and often missing altogether.

We've had some success in parts of our school through our groups of team leaders in various divisions who, together can come up with a fairly good snapshot of what is successful and what is needed. They also have an effective and positive path for improvement.

Wigs group--the Snowmass Adult Lesson Team--comes to mind here. The team leaders have been reasonably successful at helping their colleagues improve through recognition of problems, prescription for training, and priority rewards for success. But this has been much harder for private lesson groups in our school.

We are in the process of developing procedures and criteria for our Diamond Session Pros over the summer. Our focus is on qualification, training, and evaluative maintenance. Our challenge is the development of objective, transparent criteria.

And Volklskier1, the customer satisfaction is NOT nonsense. And the customers who are experienced become quite good at understanding what a good lesson is and whether the pro is qualified or not. Or at least, good at knowing that they're getting what they want or not. What are you talking about?
post #14 of 20
IMO, the role of the ski school in the instructor's development needs to revolve around outcomes in terms of customer satisfaction and the quality of the lesson given to students as determined by the individual student (and not necessarily based upon some organizational standard) as well as consideration of the individual goals of the instructor.

The means for determining a course of development for a particular instructor should be dependent upon both observable outcomes (watching classes, clinic performance, SMILES ON STUDENT FACES) and other data (customer feedback). For one instructor, improving technical skills (personal skiing, MA skills etc.) might be more important. For another, it might be developing better lesson planning and class management.

Seeking higher and/or maintaining qualifications (PSIA, CSIA, PMTS) is only one piece of the puzzle in developing a good instructor.

Should it be encouraged by the school? Absolutely, as there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained.

Mike
post #15 of 20
Long ago we did a survey of all candidates for PSIA certification where the relationship between the snowsports school's training program and the candidate's pass rate was clearly demonstrated. That led to a project called the Professional Development Portfolio, to help drive better training in the snowsports schools. However, the PDP was approached as an elective program, and never really took off like it could have--partly because the snowsports schools were not able (i.e., unable to get upper management support for the program) to underwrite the costs of having trainers help candidates track progress in their portfolios. The correlation between strong training in the ski school and passing candidates at exams is such that all employees should demand it. The snowsports school that is not providing strong training to its employees does not deserve to use "school" in its name.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
Long ago we did a survey of all candidates for PSIA certification where the relationship between the snowsports school's training program and the candidate's pass rate was clearly demonstrated. That led to a project called the Professional Development Portfolio, to help drive better training in the snowsports schools. However, the PDP was approached as an elective program, and never really took off like it could have--partly because the snowsports schools were not able (i.e., unable to get upper management support for the program) to underwrite the costs of having trainers help candidates track progress in their portfolios. The correlation between strong training in the ski school and passing candidates at exams is such that all employees should demand it. The snowsports school that is not providing strong training to its employees does not deserve to use "school" in its name.
I have no doubt that what you are saying is true. However, I still dont equate training to pass a PSIA exam with better customer experience.

Anecdotally at least it also doesn't translate into better skiers. Again the west is potentially a different animal but in the EAST there are just so many people who do not meet the skiing criteria for the certification they have. Very political and lots of cronyism at every level.

This thread and the NAtional Academy thread are very similar and are tracking to the same place. VSP made many valid observations in that thread. For me it always gets to PSIA changing it's mission. In order to advance ski instruction and increase customer satisfaction the well being and needs of the instructors need to be addressed as well. Instructor yearnings and goals do not start and stop with a pin.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
I have no doubt that what you are saying is true. However, I still dont equate training to pass a PSIA exam with better customer experience.

Anecdotally at least it also doesn't translate into better skiers. Again the west is potentially a different animal but in the EAST there are just so many people who do not meet the skiing criteria for the certification they have. Very political and lots of cronyism at every level.

This thread and the NAtional Academy thread are very similar and are tracking to the same place. VSP made many valid observations in that thread. For me it always gets to PSIA changing it's mission. In order to advance ski instruction and increase customer satisfaction the well being and needs of the instructors need to be addressed as well. Instructor yearnings and goals do not start and stop with a pin.
The thread you refered to describes PSIA's missioon. I was hoping to talk about the ski school here, which is not exactly the same thing as PSIA. All the parties have a role in instruction. I think the ski school's role has not gotten the same attention as both the organization ond the instructor. I used to evaluate training in the Army National Guard. I know I had to get out and observe training to enhance quality. I also know that when I finally got observed teaching this year, that the observers found that I was omitting things I no longer omit after discussions. It took the ski school ten years to find out what I was not doing that they wanted me to do, and I believe I am operating in good faith, and working diligently. While such dilience is the norm, there are also examples of less diligence to be found on the slopes, and examples of technical misunderstandings. There are also some instructors who simply talk way too much. With feedback they may improve, without feedback it is unlikely they will change anything.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklskier1 View Post
most of this is nonsense but this is the most glaring. You actually think that a customer could do this? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?

Wigs: Are you saying that the Ski Schools of Aspen only endorse and teach ATS?
No, I'm not saying that SSA is just endorsing ATS. But we do endorse PSIA and it's teachings along with other teaching methodologies.

I also believe that guest can tell the difference and are not as unaware as you might think. The most important thing is that the student who wants to further their understanding and education of the sport, can go anywhere and hire a ski pro that has been educated by one of these organizations, and for the most part, continue where he or she left off in their last lesson. This would not be possible IMHO, if there wasn't some sort of standard in what is being taught. This standard can only be accomplished through training and attending events that are offered by skiing education organizations around the world. With prices for these lessons being as high as they are, we owe it to our guests to be the best trained teacher possible and be totally up to date on all that is available.---------Wigs
post #19 of 20
Volklskier1,

Quote:
It's a much different animal in the East. The level of everything from front line instructors to examiners is not the same as in your division or other western divisions.
I disagree,

Our tech director is a former national demo team member and other ski schools in the east have similar qualified people connected to them for training. The certification process is based on national standards, both for skiing and teaching and professional knowledge. I attended a national exam a few years ago here in the east. One of the bump trails was so choppy,steep and icy that the examiner from California didn't want to ski it. The eastern examiners made the groups ski it over and over. After the exam was over, the California examiner was prasing the eastern skiers about how technically good skiers they were.

Some of our staff after retiring from their real jobs have gone out west to teach, and have had no problem getting hired by Vail, Heavenly, and Snowbird.

Quote:
You actually think that a customer could do this? Do you actually think that keeping up your qualifications results in good lessons?
Yea, people arn's stuped. Anyone that has had instruction before (skiing or other sport related fields) knows the difference between effective and ineffective teaching. An instructor who is motivated to give effective lessons is much more likley to keep up with their certification than someone who is not. After I give a lesson, I am often asked for my card, so they can book private lessons from me. On the card it states my PSIA Certification level. Some say "oh, your a LIII", others ask what LIII means.

So, it is fair to say that I disagree with your statements. I am shure that there are exceptions to everything, but it works both ways.

RW
post #20 of 20
Quote:
I still dont equate training [to pass a PSIA exam] with better customer experience.
I never qualified the training as being "to pass a PSIA exam," Volklskier. On the contrary, I believe the response meant that strong local training -- no doubt with a better customer experience as its purpose -- had the incidental benefit of preparing instructors to pass their PSIA exams. We never qualified it as local certification training, at any rate, just training.
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