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Exercises and lessons

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'd like to thank everyone who added to my knowledge base by answering some of my questions about teaching upper level students. As I have said elsewhere, I teach 21 levels 8-8.5 skiers 2 hours a week for 10 weeks.

Some of the responses I have gotten suggest exercises for me to do with my groups. This causes a bit of a dilemma. One of my strong points as a teacher at this level is that I ski a lot. I generally do not do a lot of exercises. I maybe do one thing. Like today: one exercise, ate up 400 yards. 5,000 vertical in cut powder the rest of the time.

Now I am wondering: am I teaching these people enough stuff? Do you guys spend a lot of class time on drills and exercises?
post #2 of 12

The question I would pose is what are the goals of the individual students and the group as a whole. This would significantly influence your lesson tactics.

At that level I have usually found a lot of skiing mixed with individual coaching works best. You don't get to level 8 and above without being a pretty dedicated skier.
post #3 of 12

You said "am I teaching these people enough stuff? Do you guys spend a lot of class time on drills and exercises?"

I am going to rephrase your question. What is the purpose of a drill/exercise? To show/help how to improve in small increments?? To break down a complicated multistep move into smaller pieces??

Do we want the student to always have to depend on us for evaluation? I don't think that is ideal. So... the drills/exercises we do should be able to be generated by the student when the student does their own self-evaluation.

I have been working with a skier for awhile. We have done the demos, explained why and how each should look and be done.

Last Tuesday was a day of "breakthroughs". This Tuesday was a day of "oh sh**, can't do a thing. What was good about the knowledge of how movements work, the skier was able to decide on his own what to work on ... and then do it!! So during the mileage runs we were getting, he was working with me, and at times telling me, what needed to be worked on. Yes, there was still that gentle nudging and good demos to help point the way.

So like much of what we do, it is the quality not quantity of ski coaching that counts.

So rephrasing your question yet again. Do your students know how to work on the skills they need if they have a "bad" day? We have our "progressions" that we do at the beginning of each year to make sure we still "got it". Couldn't the students do the same on their "bad" days? Have you given them enough notes in their notebooks to review?( I always tell my students to write down "pearls of wisdom" to help them in the future)
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Of course I want the class to please most of the people most of the time. The feedback from students toward exercises has been so-so while the feedback about "action learning" has been enthusiastic.

In my training, I learned how to teach upper levels from attending ski instructor clinics: I learned to teach from how I was taught as an upper level student.

I guess my question could be rephrased: are training clinics a good source of a teaching template for upper levels? Please explain why yes or no.
post #5 of 12

The type of students in an instructor's clinic and level 8 might match in the following ways: 1 - ability to "tweak" and fine tune. 2 - understanding of terms used 3 - knowledge of the smooth/fine/subtle blending of skills needed. 4 - use of small movements to maintain balance 5 - ability to add new knowledge without losing old skills.

So using a clinic as a template...yes. Constant movement while learning. Concise/precise words and demos.

Again using my friend as an example... with increased balance through exercises this year, he is able to do #1 and #4 now. Having had him brush his teeth while flexing the other knee, he is now able to do #3 and #5.

You are fortunate to have a group of skiers that you can teach to, the same way you are taught to!!

So, what do you think of my list of items? Do you need all to use the clinic as a template?
post #6 of 12

What are expectations of each student? Have you determined each student's motivations and have you fulfilled them? Excersizes are good for fulfilling a student's motivation, because it can fulfill understanding and movement.

I will follow up this post with some questions that I have, as soon as I find them.
post #7 of 12

ask them! Talk to them on the lift rides and ask what their expectations for the lessons are. In your case, ask what they expect by the end of the last lesson of the season.

Then ask yourself, are you going to be able to meet that/those expectation(s)? If so, you can relax and carry on. If not, you need to tweak the lesson plan.

After you have had a few sessions with them, be sure to ask again, and make sure their expectations have not changed. And let them know that they should speak up and tell you if they feel they aren't getting what they want, or if they change what they want.

They may change what they want if the mountain is covered in 2 feet of white smoke, or wall to wall bumps.

If their answers are just "to make better turns" or "to be more versitile", I tend to pick skills and work down into very fine detail on each skill, probably doing it the way you currently are - give them something to think about and ski it for a while.
post #8 of 12
Ms Nolo,

Following up on my previous post,here are a few questions you can ask of yourself and see how the answers fit your situation.

1: How did the instructor determine what the student wanred?
2: What indications do you have that the students enjoyed the lesson?
3: How did the instructor address the needs of specific students?
4: How did the instructor "tailer" the lesson to meet the needs of one specific student?
5: What movements were the students making that were not efficient?
6: Describe the first movement one of the students made to initiate a turn. Was it efficient?
7: List the inefficient movements that dissapeared during the lesson.
8: Describe the next smallest step that you would introduce at the end of the lesson?
9: How many of the students understood what the instructor was saying?
10: List some behaviors you observed that might indicate students understood.
11: How did the instructor clarify confusion?
12: What did the instructor do to make demonstrations valuable?

There are more questions that are pertentant to how a lesson has value to the student and the instructor meeting the student's needs. But these are just a sampling. See how they fit your situation.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 31, 2002 04:25 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Rick H ]</font>
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the good advice. The student will tell you what you need to know.

I have noticed that they really like the teaching that isn't focused on exercises. I wonder if this has anything to do with the number of lessons they have had in their lifetime, which is a lot of lessons. They've done exercises to death. They want a new way of learning that is more dynamic and true to life.

They say the best learning environment is to follow me down a run (one student following at a time).
post #10 of 12
I hate to say this, but one has to wonder about level 8-8.5 students who believe that following an instructor down the mountain will give them much benefit. It seems to me that these people just need some hand-holding and the occasional encouraging words to feel good about their skiing. I cannot believe that a great deal of learning is done following an instructor down the mountain. Of course, the customer is "the boss" so nolo is absolutely right in giving them what they want.

IMHO, lessons are for learning, getting feedback, doing exercises and taking away new ideas or movements that one must then practice for a while. At level 8-8.5, I think that private lessons are more effective and I think that evaluation, feedback, exercises and technical discussions are essential. You can ski and practice to your heart's content after the lesson.
post #11 of 12

You have hinted at something else...what is the purpose of multi-hour, multi-day lessons?

At a local hill, the same group skiis with the same instructor for 2 hours Saturday and Sunday all season. I was able to tag alone for 2 days.

Comments made by the group(level 7-8) were that they loved to ski together, get mileage, cut the line. A comment made by the instructor was "you really only fit in 2 hours of lessons in the entire season".

While I was with them, they only did one drill for about 100 feet. Wasn't even related back to what they were doing other than saying that this would help.

The group was happy, so the goal of the ski school, resort, instructor and customers were met.

As for me, I would want to improve, so I would expect more of a "lesson". As an instructor/coach I go through about 6-10 clinics a year, in addition to the "let's ski together" stuff.

So, nobolono... what is the goal of the students? Maybe they need to have their priorities redefined?
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
They like to ski together, but they do that outside of class too. Following is actually a very direct route to change, synchronizing even more so. Think about it: much of the brain's mass is devoted to visual cortex.

Feedback refers to a historical event. Skiing right behind the model is action learning.

What is learned? Line? Movements? Flow and rhythm?

Sounds pretty good to me.

I have learned more from following a good skier than from hearing them expound on what they do. I can see what they do for myself and try it by emulating it. If I can't, I have my work cut out for me. I know what he or she did that I couldn't. I find it to be a direct route.

In the same fashion as the United Nations, I have announced to my students that this is the Year of the Ankle Joint. Our mission is to learn its role and responsibilities in expert skiing. I use exercises and tasks as needed. Some days are weighted more toward explaining new movements and some days are devoted to transfering movements to target terrain and conditions. One day we will ski the short fattys. One day we will have transceiver training and hike to ski the Ridge.

They keep coming back year after year. There must be some benefit to the money spent, or they wouldn't return. I think it's the whole deal: the mountain, the equipment demos, the group dynamics, the leadership, and the individuals' desire for improvement. I doubt a single one would cite "great exercises" as a high point in their lesson experience.

In summary, I think exercises should be downplayed to a less prominent role in the lesson, rather than being the lesson framework, as I see is being done by many instructors. I'm sorry. The second most BORING thing about lessons next to lectures is one in which students are kept from skiing by doing exercises. A basketball team needs drills, but it also needs to scrimmage. A piano student needs finger exercises and scales, but if that's the main course of training, the piano student won't stay long. The student has to play!

A child's work is play. That says to me that learning is play!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 01, 2002 11:11 AM: Message edited 1 time, by nolobolono ]</font>
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