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Instructor Training? What the...?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Hello Y'all. It's summer in full swing here in South Dakota, so it's about time for me to start thinking about skiing again. You'll probably start seeing me pop in a little more now. Anyway, I'm thinking about incorporating a new training regime into the everyday workings of my ski school, and I could use a few thoughts from instructors, directors, and anyone else who manages any department or business out there in the real world.

I'll give a brief break-down of what is currently in place, and then throw some of my thoughts into the mix and invite you to offer a few cents. Basically I would like to see you all agree with me! (just kidding. This is in its embyonic stage at best, so there are going to be some pit-falls right off the bat. That's why I'm here.)

The PSIA division that Terry Peak belongs to encourages its members to not only join the ranks in year one, but also to take and pass it's Level I exam. Perfect. That's what it should do. My only problem is, that over the years it has become somewhat of a give-away because it is an "evaluated clinic". Simply by paying the fee and showing up, it seems the chances are pretty good that you will walk off with a Bronze pin and get a raise. For our division, it works out pretty well financially, but it isn't very motivational on the EDUCATIONAL end. Instructors have learned that they can get their pin with very little effort... This causes me grief because now I have to pay an instructor more money for knowing nothing more than they did after hiring clinic. (I don't mind paying instructors, in fact I like seeing them make as much money as they can. I'm going to offer as much "incentive pay" as I can get away with. I'm not a miser by any means.)

Another problem is that my level one instructors have such a huge leap to make to gain Level II status... both in Knowledge and Skiing Ability. It's very difficult for them to achieve. Especially part-timers.

That wasn't very brief, eh? Anyway, I would like to develop and maintain a sort of spin-off of the "Professional Development Portfolio", customized to our ski area's needs. The idea here is to start a sort of "Mentor" system where new instructors are assigned to some experienced instructors and certain goals must be met -on our mountain -within the training manual before I will even sign an instructor's application for exam. Level one trainees will be trained by Level II accreds. Level II trainees will be trained by Level III accreds. Level III Trainees will be trained by yours truly, etc. Blah blah blah.

The portfolio, I think, should contain within it a chapter for each Level, much like has been done a hundred times. The difference being that each chapter will act as an in-house exam. Instructors must be able to accomplish each maneuver and know all basic information within a chapter before taking the appropriate exam.

I don't wish to make it impossible, or even very difficult, but it should mean something when it's all said and done. I know Aspen Ski Schools used to do this, but I have only a rudimentary knowledge of their system. Ok now for the questions I have.

1) Am I being too tyrannical? Will I find myself amidst mutiny?
2) What sorts of skiing maneuvers would you find to be the most important to know at levels I, II, and III?
3) Teaching and Technical issues for the same?
4) Any thoughts on the mentoring system?
5) (Directors and Ski Area Managers) What percent of my budget should be committed to a project such as this?
6) Do 8:00am clinics EVER get anyone to show? Do I offer incentive for attendance? Do I make it mandatory?

That's all I can think of right now. If your response gets long winded or you don't want your info on the front page, send me a PM and we can chat elsewhere. I appreciate any time you can put into this, and if something doesn't seem right about this idea, PLEASE hit me with both barrels. I got a good start last year with my staff and I'd hate to flush it down the lew in year two. (heh, heh. Rhymin' just like Ali.)

Gotta git,
Spag :
post #2 of 30
Your problem seems a lot like my mountain. No you are not being too tyranical and yes you will have a mutiny. We had one success and one failure (IMHO)last year.
The SSD decided everyone was too concerned with pins and missing the point of skiing. He started a training system where everyone was encouraged to have a mentor, and everyone was issued a card with 10 tasks. When all 3 of the designated evaluators signed your card for every task, you could go to the exam. The plan failed because they failed to get buy-in from those who were ready to go the their exam, and the system was too rigid. The evaluators were not available enough for real feedback. We perceived it to be unnecessary hoops to jump through. Eventually the SSD caved in and signed everybodies' exam application, but it left some bad feelings.
The success was that the director encouraged everyone to ski everyday. He skied every morning 8 to 9 non-stop, with anyone who could keep up. And we had voluntary, all-invited Sunday PM clinics with the best coaches who were real fun to ski with. These were promoted each week as "Ski with Dennis" so there was a little pressure to go to avoid offending
Finally, no one goes to 8 AM clinics (except rookies) unless they are serious about an exam.
post #3 of 30
First the background of ME. I will be starting my 3rd season of teaching this winter, I'm 17. I have my PSIA L1, and AASI L1, and going for my L2 PSIA this year since I will finally be old enough. We are not required to go to any clinics or even get cert. (I don't agree w/ the later though)! Our L3s and Supervisor takes us out on clinics just about everynight. Sunday PM we have a womens clinic, Wed. are L1s clinic...We are encouraged to go out with them but don't have to. Sun. mornings @ 8 we used to go out, everyone could go. This year we're going to try the if you go to a clinic the previous week you get Sun. morning first tracks. If not SORRY.

If you don't make it manitory you'll probably have the same problem we do, the same "good" people show up, the people that need it don't!
post #4 of 30

Ever get to try out "guided confusion" in a clinic last year?

Announce to all concerned at your first meeting that getting the bronze pin is a cinch. But getting your signature on the form to get the bronze pin will be a bitch. Then lay out what you expect from them to get the signature and ask for feedback. Tell them that they have one week to talk to you about the procedure you have outlined and propose changes and modifications. Then hold another meeting and discuss what others have said and ask for their reactions. From this you can get a pretty good idea of where the group stands and will be in a good position to know how much you can push things.

On the subject of mentoring. For this to work it has to be pretty much a voluntary thing on both sides. Forced mentoring only works OK at best.

8 o-clock clinics usually only work with some sort of carrot or stick. For us its the carrot of getting to ski. Most of our instructors teach all day. You can also tell which clinic leaders ski their clinics the most because they have the largest groups.

I guess that it all boils down to your letting them know that PSIA might not care how much they learn but you do.

Hope you get a lot more snow next season,

post #5 of 30
YIKES, well considering I've recently been flammed on a fitness pros forum {slowly becoming the most hated girl on the net [img]smile.gif[/img] } for suggesting that a one day "certification" in any specialty is useless, and nobody who takes a one day should be entitled to the same pay increase as those of us who had to sweat for it, maybe I can help you out.

The mentoring system is excellent, but only certain types of people are suited to be mentors.
People who want to share.
People who are so in love with their profession that they want to leave a legacy.
People who need people... Sorry! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Anyways, just being one level above the others probably won't do it.

Mentors are usually in love with learning. You can probaly get away with offering to pay for a skills workshop for them, as an incentive. The other choice is to offer a slightly higher salary, but that's not always possible.

The mentors should be able to "sell" for lack of better word their training sessions, with the same enthusiasm they sell their private lessons. The incentive for the newbie instructors to attend should be "This is going to be awesome!!!"

I have a manipulative little trick I use. I'll talk briefly to an instructor about how I would break down a complex skill. When I see they are interested, I say "BTW, I'm doing a workshop on that tommorrow!"

You said "Instructors must be able to accomplish each maneuver and know all basic information within a chapter before taking the appropriate exam."

This was done in the National Academy of Sports Medicine Exam. Very effective, since it gives you an idea of what your weaknesses are before going in for the real thing!

Good Luck! I'm sure I'll think of other stuff. So that I don't make an idiot of myself, let me know if what I'm telling you to do does not translate into the ski areas.
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Hey! Alrighty! This is a good start. Some good tweaking going on. I like Ydnar's ideas about getting the guys and girls in on it. That way they will have a hand in shaping their own future, so to speak. Also Ydnar, I never got much of a chance to try out "guided Confusion", but I spent most of the season in a state of "controlled Confusion". Does that count? [img]tongue.gif[/img]

LM, good point on who should mentor. I was simply throwing out that statement to get the idea across (the one about mentors being one level above the candidates), but the point is well taken. I'm pleased to see that versions of this system work in other fields.

SkierRvls. Am I reading it right that you have scheduled "specialty" clinics every week? That sounds like the cat's meow. Was it effective? Did enough instructors regularly show to make it worth-while? I'd like more info about that if possible.

Jdowling. Was the problem a simple lack of time? Was there not enough time for candidates to complete their cards before it was time to send in the applications? I can see that being a major pit-fall for my weekend warriors. Had anyone proposes any solutions to the problem?

I really appreciate your feedback, as training last year was a real weak point. The instructors were really hungry, but it took them awhile to get used to my "strategy", if you will. I don't know that they've been worked very hard and furious before last season. We saw quite a few lessons come through that they were simply unprepared for. Upper levels and such. They did a hell of a job though and I just want to reward them with more information. Keep it comin', cuz I'm adding it to what I've got and producing some really exciting stuff!

Thanks again.
Spag :
post #7 of 30
I hope my first post wasn't too negative. Our SS trainers have a lot of credibility with me and I want to help sell our training program (whatever we determine it to be) to my peers. Our new training program has not failed, but it has not had the acceptance it should get. You should understand that the context of the new program was to get away from "pin fever" and back to developing skills to really enjoy high level skiing.
The biggest problem is lack of buy-in at all levels. It was handed to us at the beginnning of last year as a done deal. Only 3 evaluators were available for 250 mostly weekend parttime instructors. (We have 5 current or former Examiners and 4 DCLs on staff, but only 3 were identified as evaluators.) The evaluators were not available to me as I was preparing for level 3, so I assume they were equally unavailable to everyone else. To get the program back on track the SSD scheduled mass group evaluations, which IMHO were the kind of judgmental thing he was trying to avoid in the first place. Mentoring is a good idea but those of us who understood that had informal mentors long before it became part of the program. I think the way to encourage mentoring is to find the informal mentors and recognise them in some way. In our program I have not noticed any particular recognition or benefit for mentors or their students.
The most successful part was the Sunday PM clinics with race coaches. They all emphasized fun, speed and intensity. And the SSDs example of skiing every AM was excellent.
I hope this helps.
post #8 of 30
Hey There,
I don't post here often but I do enjoy reading the forum on a daily and have truly learned alot.
This one area particularly interests me because I love to take clinics.First a bit of backround. I started teaching 2 seasons ago. When I first came to my home mountain I was completly overwhelmed.There was so much to learn. Being part time there was not alot of time to learn the ropes. At this time there was no mentoring program in place. I had the good fortune of meeting a level 3 insructor who took me under his wing and spent all of his free time trainig and developing me. Other rookies were not so lucky. Many floundered around and I wondered how they were giving quality lessons.MENTORING PROGRAM IS A MUST!!
As the first several weeks went by I learned that there were clinics every weekend at 8AM before lineup. There was a book in the locker room that you could sign up for it. There was limited space but it always seemed that the same handful of people would show up for clinics. I took all the clinics I could from personal skiing to teaching skills. Why some of the other instructors did not take advantage of this I do not know. In short passing my level 1 was easy.
The second season went very much the same as far as clinics went. For those who were preparing for an exam we had clinics every Sunday from 1:45 until the lift closed.Again only a handful would attend.All of the people that took there level 2 that attended these clinics passed. I must give credit here to Rich Weiss-he went above and beyond his call of duty.EXAM PREP IS ALSO A MUST!!
In our SS it is mandatory to take 2 on snow clinics to begin your season of teaching. Hardly enough to be a highly effective coach for your students.MORE MANDATORY CLINICS!!!!
This is a long post but I feel these are truly important areas that need to be addresssed. Demand more from your instructors. Your SS students will get better coaching and come back again. Maybe then we can give the ski professionals the money they deserve!!
Hope this post makes some sense. I have so much to say but this keyboard and I did not get along well!! Thanks for listening!

Terry Carey
post #9 of 30
Great Post, Terry! I have posted similar stuff on fitness instructor forums.

Anyone who makes a career out of what is considered the 'fun' jobs, sports instruction, fitness etc. has to realize that if they don't put a bit of WORK into obtaining excellence in those professions, employers will never have the incentive to pay anyone any higher.

"There was limited space but it always seemed that the same handful of people would show up for clinics. Why some of the other instructors did not take advantage of this I do not know."

In my industry, I find that the people who whine the loudest about not being paid fairly are the ones who put very little into their education, even to the point of not showing up for workshops that are provided at no charge by my company. {As an instructor trainer, I know this for a fact.}

Having highly trained instructors in any activity is the only way to increase participation in that activity.

BTW, Terry teaches at Okemo, where there is usually a wait list to get into some of the workshops.
post #10 of 30
Terry and LM are getting to the heart of this. People who are committed to constant improvement will take responsibilty for their own training and find it where they are or move on. Offer high quality training to those who want it and get rid of the rest.
post #11 of 30
I guess I would not like the idea of "forced" mentoring. Such things have to occur naturally. Hire a good clinician and offer the training.

I also think the training has to be by a strong level III, trainer accred, or DCL. I think your idea of level II's training aspiring level I's could be a mistake.

[ July 16, 2002, 08:43 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 
They idea behind having II's help I's and III's help II's is mostly geared toward getting my instructors some experience teaching one another. I was given the opportunity as a Level I to teach clinics in New Mexico and, although daunting, it was invaluable to me when it came time to take exams. If you want to gain credibility with an examiner, you have to at least be able to gain it from your peers, no?

I see your points about what is now dubbed "forced mentoring". I agree that mentors need to be a certain kind of person... and I have a few of them on staff, so I guess I'm good to go provided they are willing.

Having instructors teach one another solves another problem for me as well. There just aren't that many Full Certs around here. There are a few (how do I say this diplomatically)... OLDER folks around that have been III's for a long time, but haven't stayed current. I use them for clinics occasionally, because their experience speaks for itself. Some of their practices, however, are a little antiquated and unfortunately dyed-in-the-wool, so to speak. By using instructors that I've trained, regardless of their level, I can get things going the way I want them. Otherwise I've found that keeping everyone on my page is like herding cats. Cats don't have a herd mentality, y'know?

Anyway, great ideas and suggestions. I have another question. Here's the set-up.

Like any other school, I have a number of instructors who teach children exclusively, a few who teach anyone, and a number who simply WON'T teach children because they have never HAD to and now they have no idea HOW to. My belief is that an instructor who has the ability to teach in ALL realms - age, ability, conditions, terrain, etc. - is better prepared to face the level II and III exams. I have a few ideas on how to encourage people to teach kids, but my lack of experience is getting the better of me here. Any other ideas out there? (duh, spag, I'm sure there are tons!!)

Stay cool. Don't you ever die! (chk! Wink!)
Spag :
post #13 of 30
We DID have specialty clinics every week. Our turn out was good. I teach at a very small resort so the numbers I reveal will seem very tiny but in fact they aren't really, compared to the # of instructors we have. For the womens clinic we had about 7 - 10 people each week. For regular clinics we had anywhere from 5-20 for each one, avg. probably about 10 for each clinic. It helped a lot and worked very well at my resort!
post #14 of 30
Notorious: Your ss situation is not unlike many I have heard of. Only rookies and higher level exam candidates go to training. Well, I'd like to share with you a little of our philosophy at Loon Mt. New Hampshire's Adaptive Ski School aka-The White Mountain Adaptive Snow Sports School (WMASS), for short.

At our program everyone except the Administrative Director and the Ski Coordinator is a volunteer.Presently we have approximately 80-90 active instructors.Primarily weekend warriors. Suffice it to say each buys his / her own equipment, condo rental, transportation, etc,etc. You get the picture I'm sure.

Approximately 12-13 years ago our staff instructors were ill trained weak skiers fundamentally. However, we all loved skiing and we all had a desire to improve our skill sets personally and for the ultimate benefit of our students-who I might add range in disability from very mild cognitive development issues to severely disabled-ie paraplegics, quadraplegics, TBI, amputees, etc. , etc.

To improve the skill sets needed our director at the time Emily Morrison, now in Alaska, began to develop a training program whereby everyone who wanted to become a ski instructor, now called coaches at Loon, had to take a minimum of six training days at the start of each season, comprised of all of our designated specialties, to teach each disability we encountered at our school.This was a massive undertaking, since there are six primary categories in the disabilities we teach and a further variety within the ranges of each discipline. Additionally, they had to be well founded in contemporary alpine ski technique.

So to start off we offered training clinics every weekend at 7:30-9:00 am and at 3:00 to close most weekend days.We realized early on that unless each instructor had a solid foundation in the fundamentals of contemporary ski technique they would not improve personally nor would they be able to clearly communicate the correct and appropriate technique to their students' learning style. The results would therefore, be less successful than they could have been if our coaches had the solid fundamentals they needed.

We then found that most of our instructors had a significantly flawed understanding of the fundamentals of current ski technique. At the beginning, no one had any understanding let alone a clear understanding of the skiing model, teaching model, learning styles, teaching styles,and the Center Line concept, (now gone).

To accomplish our training goal we set out to teach everyone the basics of the skiing model, including the wedge turn, which we still emphasize strongly today, wedge christies, open parallel, and dynamic parallel turn mechanics. Each instructor trains endlessly in these areas, but at their own pace.

When I took over the role as Technical Director 5 seasons ago, I contiued to build on the earlier momentum, which Emily developed with those of us who where there in the early days. I continued the emphasis on trainig at all levels, especially at the most fundamental levels, and on working toward certification not as a goal of acquiring a pin, but as a way to improve the instructors' ability to translate skiing into laymans' terms.

In our school we strongly encourage certification in both Alpine and Adaptive tracts, so that the instructors have the solid foundation they need. We push them to take the Alpine cert. first so that they have a clear and uncluttered understanding of Alpine fundamentals in how we turn a ski. We then start them on their Adaptive tract once they pass Level I Alpine. We don't let anyone take the level I exams until they have been with us at least 2 seasons and preferably 3. After they have passed each of their level I's we then encourage them to train for at minimum two full seasons, as weekend warriors, prior to taking their Level II Alpine cert. Once they pass the Level II we then help them take another season to be fully trained in the six required disciplines, which the Adaptive tract requires. Finally, there are a few candidates, which have actually passed their Level III certs in both disciplines. After that they're on their own.

By now you're probably wondering how we do all of this. First you must realize that success breeds success. The more instructors who are certified or are working toward certification will help energize the others.Training continuously and frequently with all instructors these cert. candidates continue to pollinate the rookies.We almost never free ski without some level of training component encompassing what we are doing.Additionally, the instructors themselves ask for specific training clinics to improve their personal fundamentals.We always strive to make it fun. Believe it or not I sometimes actually have to force my old-timers to Free Ski.

Finally, to go to an exam at our school the candidate has to prove his / her proficiency to me and at least one other senior trainer(level III Alpine/Adaptive), to get the elusive sign-off.

Last but not least one final training note. I require everyone of our instructors to be proficient on Snow-Blades in most conditions. This has created a title wave of success in all of our instructors' abilities,especially our timid Moms. It has transformed ALL of our back-seat riders to stand in a balanced stance and to turn from the feet up not the shoulders down.

Now for our results. We have approximately 70% of our total instructor complement certified, with the majority in level I obviously. But we also have presently 3-Level III Alpine and Level III Adaptive instructors and many more level IIs in both tracts.

In summary, Success breeds success and success creates and maintains the enthusiasm in training. Without training your instructors will fail or at least ebb on the path to certification.

I know this has been very long, but I think your thread is well founded. Good luck.


[ July 19, 2002, 07:41 AM: Message edited by: whtmt ]
post #15 of 30
whtmt - just a few questions if you don't mind. I am still very curious about this segregation bit.

With ONLY volunteer instructors - most of whom were not qualified much how did the Adaptive Ski School cope with people like Michael Milton when they came for lessons?
How would this differ now that you have a few more qualified staff?

I find this quite fascinating - I don't (& never really did) just want a 'snow experience'. I assume that someone like Michael didn't either. I want to ski as closely to 'normal' people as I physically can. Having an instructor who teaches 'normal' people also I have always seen as a benefit - they EXPECT me to aspire to & REACH normal skill levels - just with lots more work. Having an interest in & background with disabled skiers does HELP them provide for my specific needs - but seems less essential than the patience & ability I would expect from any professional teaching person.
post #16 of 30
Hi Spag,

I am a SSD here in Canada. I am not very familiar with the PSIA system but I am very familiar with training.

Mentoring systems only work if you have buy in and commitment from your senior pros. This is not always easy. They must be strong leaders as well. I have been at a few resorts that have tried this and it always seems to break down.

I also don't believe that mandatory sessions are the way to go. Your pros have to want to be there to learn, not feel that they are forced to go. If you have good pros, they will be there. If you have a training program that is fun and inspirational, your task is even easier.

People will show up to 8am sessions if they are like this. I find it very difficult to get any decent results or developed ideas across in a 45min to 1 hour morning session. First your pros, like all other athletes need to warm up. Second, going for a good ski in the morning gets the cobwebs out and gets people motivated for the day.

The other thing I offer is full day sessions. I give these sessions specific themes that can either be course specific or focused on some other area of skiing that will help with the course. I offer these once a week from myself, and I have my assistant director offer them at least once a week. I also try and get some of my most senior pros involved leading sessions. This helps in their own development as well as the development of my newer pros.

I would suggest that you make your training about being a good pro for your ski school. If you do this then you will build pride in your ski school and passing the certification courses will become an easy result of good training rather than the sole focus and motivation for your pros.

If you build a training program that is informative and fun, then that will provide your incentive to come to session.

Good luck!
post #17 of 30
It's too bad that mentoring seems always to carry that sad tag line, "Good idea but hard to execute."

But what's tragic is how the best practices in training are readily available for all to utilize today, and how few organizations are able to put them to work. Frankly, I think the problem is pure perception. We tag many of these best practices with the same sort of line we use with mentoring. I think it's just an expedient excuse for lowering the expectations of the program.

Expediency usually stands opposite ethics.
post #18 of 30
In all other respects, I agree with Murrski--when the explicit goal of the training program is to build espirit de corps it will nurture commitment to something greater than just me. It will put the EGOS in the right place. I think when we lay the egos aside, learning can enter the picture!
post #19 of 30
We have clinic two mornings a week (Tuesday and Saturday) and has been said before it sames the same people always show. It seems like we are able to reach most or all of the full timers that are interested, those that aren't are hopefully weeded out. Our problem is how to reach the part timers, especielly those who have been around for many years and may have once been full time. There attitude seems to be I knew/know it and though they have good teaching skills there content is lacking. Does anybody have any ideas on how we can get enough buy in that they will want to improve?
post #20 of 30
Invite them to give a clinic. Oftentimes these valuable war horses feel invisible. The more you leave them alone, the more neglected they feel, and the more apathy you perceive. It becomes a vicious cycle. You could reinvigorate them by acknowledging their expertise and inviting them to grow by designing and delivering a clinic for their peers. Work with them on the topic and content and then let 'em at it.

This would reinforce the "continuing education" values you want to drive the ski school culture.

One of the best forms of reinforcement is unscheduled. That is, there's an element of surprise. (If every time you do something right, you get a reward, you come to expect it and the reinforcement loses its potency.) My first SSD used to surprise us with a case of champagne after the lifts closed at random times--just to say thank you. I guess he did it 3-4 times a year. We never knew when, but do you think we knew that our boss appreciated us?

What you might do to reinforce continuing education and development to the old hands is, after they've done the first "guided" clinic with you, tell them that they'll be called upon to give clinics in the future, but there probably won't be any notice, so please prepare a few specialty clinics for those occasions. Then, on a random schedule, tap one to give a clinic.

Does that make sense? Is your organization secure enough to let go of command and control to do it? Many are not: those trainer slots are jealously guarded and handed out like Queen Elizabeth hands out knighthoods.
post #21 of 30
I'm new to this forum, and despite the standard "bandwidth wasters" that all forums have, the content is educational. Where else could a SSD ask a question like you have and then be able to sort out the replies.
After 20 years teaching and 10 as a director here are some of my observations in regards to your ideas:

Bravo! You care about teaching and want to make it better.

Newbies: Some just want to be industry insiders and don't care about teaching. TRY to figure out who they are and don't hire them, regardless of how desperate you are for warm bodies.

Most instructors aren't comfortable being mentored by anyone other than someone they believe to be the best.

Most instructors aren't comfortable mentoring someone unless they are 100% confident they are superior in all ski teaching aspects.

Everyone needs to put pressure on PSIA to stop watering down the association just to make a few more bucks. Until they put more emphasis on education rather than money this will continue. Ask PSIA how much it's directors are paid $$$$$

We don't tie direct pay increases to PSIA certification anymore.

We use a system like Nolo suggested: Encourage everyone to develop their own clinic to teach to their peers. Some will spend years putting together their clinic while others will teach 3 a week! Require everyone to attend 10? clinics of their choice. Best system we have used.

Gear your requirements for movements, teaching, technical, etc.. to meet the demands of your customers not the national standards. We do have requirments but understand that a level II kids instructor is different from a level II adults instructor.

Budget? $2000.00 for a laptop and ISP, all your answers are out there somewhere!

No one will ever attend an 8am clinic unless THEY think they want to!

Good Luck and show everyone how to have fun!
post #22 of 30
Welcome Murrski! That makes about 5 or so SSD's who now come regularly for therapy!
Spag and Nolo, you are both aware of my MO for training. Spag you are on track!
There are few in our quasi-militaristic hierarchies who would not benefit from giving or receiving through well conceived "non-madatory" sessions. Better to attract than demand! Better inside than outside the "group"!
Spag, you know that inspired level I and II folks can deliver great sessions, given direction and encouragement. I have had a rookie (with a psych degree) give an enlightening and passionate perspective on fear...repeated by popular demand! I challenged my two 40 year pin guys to prepare an historical development piece for the line....it was funny, inspiring and popular...especially to our "centerline clones"! Make everybody part of the ed process...and part of the solution...the "problem" will go away or "peer through the fence" until it is better to join 'em than fight'em!
Hello to the Missus!
post #23 of 30
Welcome Funski...ok, make that 5 or 6 SSDs! Great points! You too Nolo! There are alot more years in some of those "warhorses"!
Just got back from the NSAA's Snowsports Professionals Panel in Boulder. After a show of hands for SSDs at the National Convention....SAM looked around and there wasn't a soul. They decided that they might put together a panel of people who actually design and implement our "growth model", deal with the formula in real terms....go figure! There were 13 of us from across the country. When I get time I will give a quick summary....if anyone is interested.
post #24 of 30
Originally posted by disski:
whtmt - just a few questions if you don't mind. I am still very curious about this segregation bit.

With ONLY volunteer instructors - most of whom were not qualified much how did the Adaptive Ski School cope with people like Michael Milton when they came for lessons?
How would this differ now that you have a few more qualified staff?

I find this quite fascinating - I don't (& never really did) just want a 'snow experience'. I assume that someone like Michael didn't either. I want to ski as closely to 'normal' people as I physically can. Having an instructor who teaches 'normal' people also I have always seen as a benefit - they EXPECT me to aspire to & REACH normal skill levels - just with lots more work. Having an interest in & background with disabled skiers does HELP them provide for my specific needs - but seems less essential than the patience & ability I would expect from any professional teaching person.
disski: I'm sorry for the delay in responding, but work and travel have delayed getting back to you.

Let me first repond to your question on "segregation?". If I understand your question correctly,you mean the separation of disabled skiers from able bodied skiers by having the disabled skiers ski with instructors in a specialized snow-sports school, or have I misunderstood your first question? I'll take a shot at it, but please let me know if I have totally missed your question.

Let's return historically to our early years at Loon. We had a group of extremely dedicated volunteers, who realized that their skiing was weak, but who came to the snow sports school with a variety of very strong technical and professional training in such areas as orthopedic surgery, occupational and physical therapy, teachers of special education, PHDs in mental retardation, those with high level training in other learning disabilities, nursing,and so on. Because of the significant specialized training, which many of these folks had, the other volunteers,like myself, could get answers to very complex questions of mentally and physically challenged areas, which otherwise may not have been possible.

Next, you need to know that our Director at that time, Emily Morrison, prior to running the adaptive ski school, was a level III Alpine certified instructor, who eventually went on to make the Eastern Alpine Development Team for two seasons. So Emily brought to us the high level ski piece, we otherwise would not have had. She was also an exceptional trainer.

Now comes a skier like Michael Milton. He has some very specific requirements and physical challenges, which most skiers don't have. So just like yourself at home in your own snow sports school, we began with an analysis of the student.

We assessed what he does in his daily life for work, physical activities, strength, balance, range of motion on both sides of his body, upper and lower extremity useage, his general conditioning in strength and aerobically, and so on, until we have a clear picture of him. Then and even more importantly we find out what his personal goals are near term and long term. How many times per season does he ski?

Then we would begin by trying to segregate the area which he feels needs the corrective action or retraining. Once all of this big picture has been established we share ideas between instructors, who may have some understanding of this problem more specifically from their professional life or from actual practice mon the hill. In reality it's a guided discovery guessing game, to see what works best.

Now let's come back to a key point, which the student might make to us as their coach. I have never met,in my 13 years of teaching disabled skiers, one who wanted to look or ski differently than anyone else on the hill. So now what do we do?

If one part of Michael's body doesn't work-ie move the same as the other side of his body or if he is less flexible or has less strength in one body part then other people you see, and this is the nature of his disability, then you have try to address it with either modifications in his skiing or in the use of supplementary equipment.

It's also been my experience that at the end of the day, success in the students' eyes was driven by the smile on his / her face and not as much as how they looked on the hill.Inclusion is more important typically than how they looked sliding down the hill on some special piece of equipment.

Let me share with you a real example of what I'm talking about. A teenager comes to us to learn to ski.He / she says that they have never skied, but that their friends ski and they would like to learn. The teenager has Cerebral Palsy (CP), and is very unstable in walking and therefore, balance. Additionally, she gets tired very quickly if she has to walk very far. To move around at home she even uses a wheel chair so as to not tire herself out so quickly and to remain as independent as possible.

Now - Dad is standing nearby while we complete her evaluation and discuss the options open to her, including that of specialized equipment. He is adamant that she in no way will be made to telegraph her disability to the rest of the skiing guests and that she will therefore stand-up to ski.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. So we take her out for the morning on day one of their vacation and she lasts an hour, day two another hour, day three a 1/2 hour, and is now very disappointed, since her family and friends are out skiing and she's in the lodge alone!

So I say to her,and now Mom is standing by her side, that she could probably have more fun in a sit-down piece of equipment, which will allow her to have much greater freedom and movement without getting tired quickly. The student buys into it with Mom's support.

We take her out and go to the top of the mountain, look across at the other peaks and maybe even bump into her friends and ski a run together. We finish the day and she can't wait for tomorrow. Now she's happy and Mom is elated. Dad still wants her to ski standing up, but she and Mom are now happy, so he accepts that modifying how she skis, by using specialized equipment is OK !!!!

This is a true story, one of many we have seen at Loon. It's up to you to convince your student to be creative and to think outside of the box. Never follow the rules for the rules sake. Go with what your student wants, but it's up to you to show them that their are many ways to slide on snow. If you keep it fun they will go with what you suggest every time.

I'm sorry for this diatribe, but there is no short way to cover question you have asked. Good luck.

[ July 19, 2002, 07:56 PM: Message edited by: whtmt ]
post #25 of 30
Whtmt, I've seen the cool stuff you guys do at Loon, working with paraplegics, people with one leg, people with SERIOUS disabilities. Disski, your lack of proprioception may be a disability, but you have both your legs and eyes. I remember in one thread you said you have no trouble skiing through a whiteout, so I'm not sure how proprioceptively challenged you are. So for you, skiing like everyone else is probably an attainable goal. Someone with cerabral palsy or one leg probably has to take a more realistic approach.
post #26 of 30
Whtmt - thanks for that - but that is really like what they do here - so why does it need to be a seperate school?
post #27 of 30
Originally posted by Bethany:
people with SERIOUS disabilities. Disski,
Bethany - can you define for me what is a SERIOUS disability?
Say what percentage loss of what functions?
post #28 of 30
Originally posted by Bethany:
so I'm not sure how proprioceptively challenged you are. So for you, skiing like everyone else is probably an attainable goal. .
Bethany - you have obviously NEVER seen Michael Milton ski!
I would give ANYTHING to ski at the MORE REALISTIC level of 50% of Michael's skill level!!!!
Do you know ANY other alpine skier who has ever taken Olympic/Paralympic gold in ALL 4 disciplines in 1 games????
(SL,GS,SG & Downhill)

Damn it I'd be happy to skate 50% as well as he does to...

Does the fact that the doctor at Thredbo tried to stop me skiing on the basis that he considered it TOO DANGEROUS for me mean anything to you?

post #29 of 30
Originally posted by whtmt:
We take her out and go to the top of the mountain, look across at the other peaks and maybe even bump into her friends and ski a run together.
How do you bump into her friends when you have a segregated ski school? Do they come & ski there with her?
post #30 of 30
Spag, a couple of more points. First, I've mentioned before that one of the most effective exercises for me as a student is the one where each of us has to lead the class through 6 turns. That in itself should speak well for mentoring, since not only does the "mentee" improve, the mentor sharpens their teaching skills.

I know that beginning instructors sometimes shadow an advanced teacher, but what about having a more advanced pro shadow a newbie? No offense, but it probably should not be you. No matter how nice you are, people get nervous when the boss is there. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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