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How to handle a delicate situation about another instructor

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I need help to figure out how to handle a situation.

As many of you know, I teach in Vail part time throughout the winter. I am a fairly competent instructor and think I know what's going on in our business. But, as a part timer, with only three seasons under my belt in Vail (about 30 total) I don't want to make waves or be a rabble rouser.

Here's the situation...

While out free skiing (remember I am only part time so I don't teach every day and usually free ski on my days off) I have the opportunity to observer many other instructors. Sometimes I will stop and observe other instructors from a distance to see what they're doing and try to learn a thing.

Well, one day, while doing just that, I ran across a full timer (who's been there for years) giving a lesson that would have been current in 1994. In short, he was giving a classic up-down, swivel the skis, lesson. There was no "project down the hill, or tip the skis, or active inside". I was embarrassed.

So, what do I do? Do I do nothing? Do I approach a supervisor? Do I go to the training staff?

What do you think?
post #2 of 23
If you want to avoid causing yourself problems, one thing you should NOT do is identify the ski school where you work.
post #3 of 23
Did you observe the kind of equipment the client was using, WV?

Are you certain of the context in which the instruction was taking place?

Some clients still ASK to be taught fine points about the way they learned to ski years ago. Even on the newer equipment.

And, of course, every destination resort has a percentage of the ski school members that resists any change. Some of those folks even are among the most-booked on the staff.

I'm sure that if you encountered one of the resistant types, the supervisors/managers are well aware of the circumstance. They probably rarely assign them to anything but request privates.
post #4 of 23
Hi WV

I also teach skiing part-time... my full-time profession is Organizational Development Consulting, so I have dealt with this sort of thing a bunch of times.

It's my hunch that your motivation on this matter is about quality of instruction and the reputation of your school, not to single someone out and criticize them.

Therefore, IMHO, you can take the "high" road or the "low" road. The "low" road being to point out this individual's performance - or rather the room for improvement. The "high" road - my personal preference - is to approach the ski school with specific suggestions for improvement - maybe something along the lines of: "After completing my 3rd season here it occurs to me that it's a constant challenge to keep current in terms of what to be teaching - with today's technology and the current thinking in ski instruction. I know that I would greatly benefit, and my guess is others would, too, from a refresher at the begining of each season. Do you think that is something that could be provided to the instructional staff?".

I hope you find a way to approach this situation that ends in a win-win solution.

Enjoy the sun and mashed potatoes!
kiersten
post #5 of 23
maybe he was just using .... stepping stones

Oz [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]

[ March 25, 2003, 04:06 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #6 of 23
I still ocasionaly demo some "old" stuff. Had a guy ask what wedeln was last week and did a quick but crude demo! :

Unweighting is a tool and can still be taught, as pointed out in many other threads, it's still used on the steeps by the loftiest of the herd.

My question to add here is ...... What do you with an instructor who shows up sporting a PSIA pin? She's never been to a clinic or an event yet showed at line up last week sporting a pin. One of the small gold ones.
post #7 of 23
WV, ask the fulltimer what he was doing.
yuki, ask the woman where she got the pin.
[img]smile.gif[/img]

[ March 25, 2003, 06:45 PM: Message edited by: vera ]
post #8 of 23
I think you can order those small gold PSIA pins from the catalogue. Rather weird though!
Sometimes peer pressure can fix those kinds of "inappropriate" problems.
Someone at my old hill was doing something inappropriate to do with request privates and working part time on the SS phone bookings...
I asked an old timer if this was a normal practice and his reaction was that it most certainly was not.
I didn't think any more of it, but found that the old timers were conducting their own inquiries, and when they established that this was indeed happening, they let the person know (very discreetly) that the practice should cease immediately.

As for the problem detailed above, although I can't believe I've bought into this way of thinking, I'd leave it be. My hill had some senior instructors who were shocking skiiers. Some of them would never have been good enough to Wedeln, yeah, I was embarassed too.
I chatted about it to some senior people who were very PSIA, and the bottom line seemed to be: that US ski hills prize above all else those who generate request private lessons. Teaching "correct" stuff takes a definite back seat. So although they pay us more for getting our PSIA certs, the big bucks are for those who get requested. The ultimate bottom line being: if he's bringing in the bucks, he's OK by them.

I've heard talk about compulsory training for all instructors at both my US hills, but it falls to the ground because the ones who really NEED it just don't bother to come, and the hill isn't going to fire them for that.

Yeah, I think it's all totally wrong!
post #9 of 23
I would give the instructor some credit and not jump to conclusions. What you thought you were seeing may not be PC but may yet have utility. What if, for example, you were asked to teach hop turns? Up, down, swivel the skis could be useful in moguls. Possibly the instructor was asked specifically for what was being shown. Perhaps he was demonstrating what you saw in order to contrast it to something else. Use your imagination, for cryin out loud! Why not ask the guy? I'm sure your concern is in the right place but you should be aware that others will be watching you and possibly without much understanding either. Imagine how you could possibly be harmed by someone lacking either imagination or fundamental courtesy. Sorry if that seems harsh but "good intentions" do not obviate harm. Bye the way, what you describe was not exactly "current" in 1994 either.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
US ski hills prize above all else those who generate request private lessons.
This totally untrue, how dare you even insinuate such a vicious and demeaning lie .... the only way to get ahead in SS is to get certified, train hard, travel the world, take lots of clinics, teach "contemporary" skiing, know what RISE stands for, turn up everyday, smile, wear correct uniform, look athletic, take whatever you are given ..... and go straight home ..... and do not mention the WAR !!!!

Oz [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #11 of 23
I second what vera had to say. I think far too often we go through life trying to be "all to politically correct".

If it walks like a duck......it probably was a lousy lesson.

I saw one of those little gold pins the other day for the first time. I told the guy to get it the hell off his jacket! I worked my ass off this winter for mine.

One question that arises is why are the pins being distributed? Are they lapel pins?
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:
I would give the instructor some credit and not jump to conclusions. What you thought you were seeing may not be PC but may yet have utility. What if, for example, you were asked to teach hop turns? Up, down, swivel the skis could be useful in moguls. Possibly the instructor was asked specifically for what was being shown. Perhaps he was demonstrating what you saw in order to contrast it to something else. Use your imagination, for cryin out loud! Why not ask the guy? I'm sure your concern is in the right place but you should be aware that others will be watching you and possibly without much understanding either. Imagine how you could possibly be harmed by someone lacking either imagination or fundamental courtesy. Sorry if that seems harsh but "good intentions" do not obviate harm. Bye the way, what you describe was not exactly "current" in 1994 either.
.....
I second this, not to say you are wrong, but possibly mistaken. I especially second the part about asking the guy about it, and not in an accusing manner either, but a respectful one.

"Hey __________, I saw you teaching something the other day and I am really interested in incorporating it into my lessons, can you tell me about it, or maybe show me some stuff about it sometime?"
You'll get a more open response and probably some more infomation. As a fellow instructor your 'job' isn't to modify other people on the staff so be careful. If the man's teaching is really an issue the training and supervisory staff already knows.

[ March 26, 2003, 06:41 AM: Message edited by: Roto ]
post #13 of 23
To start with- the little gold pins are lapel pins which PSIA sends out when you register. I agree that there is some confusion when worn by new members, but most do not wear them.
Heck , I haven't worn a pin of any sort in almost 20 years. A pin does not make you a good instr! So don't let it get under your skin. Be proud of the large one you wear. Most importantly, do the job at the standard which honors the pin!

WV- in an organization the size of ours, there is no way we will ever get all the staff thinking or teaching contemporary skills and tactics. So don't fret about it. Just remind yourself not to be brought down to their level of mediocrity. Continue your own development, and don't wait for others. They'll just hold you back. Attach yourself to the group which is moving forward, not the group in stasis.

In defense of that pro, it might have been a beneficial thing for that particular student. Without having been inside the lesson, and knowing the context it was being presented in, how can anyone know why it was done. Often, I will dig into my bag of old tricks, to get a student to acheive something better. If taken out of context, it also would be considered out of date. Remember- everything has it's place and time, in skiing.

:
post #14 of 23
I got one of the little pins at First Tracks. I haven't taken it out of it's plastic bag. To be honest, I just got my bronze pin on Monday, and after seeing what passes for Level I, I don't think I'll wear it either. We had 100% pass rate. I can't imagine what it would take to fail the exam.
post #15 of 23
I know that sometimes it’s hard to turn your head when you observe another pro teaching something that is not up to standards. Where I work this is called chairlift evaluation, and is not allowed in any kind of grading of the pro on his or her evaluation for a priority rating. You really don’t know why the pro is using this approach and should not be judgmental unless you observe this same pro teaching this approach day after day. Then you may want to bring it up to the training department.--Wigs
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by vera:
WV, ask the fulltimer what he was doing.
yuki, ask the woman where she got the pin.
[img]smile.gif[/img]
What I meant by this was: do a little more research with the person in question in a friendly, non-confrontational manner. This means, first assume good intentions rather than drawing conclusions without firsthand information.
Most organizations and especially ski schools! could benefit from more direct communication among peers (good management approach too.)

[ March 26, 2003, 07:42 AM: Message edited by: vera ]
post #17 of 23
Hey Oz! What does RISE stand for?!

I'll just put my complete and utter b@stard hat on for a moment: if you really think someone is teaching rubbish, ask them to expand on it in a group situation (sitting around in locker room or whatever). (remove complete and utter b@stard hat).

I never got one of those little gold pins. Typical. I don't get the free subscription to Ski magazine either, and to buy them costs almost $10 over here.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses.

Let me say that my conclusion regarding this instructor was not based on one three minute observation. It was based upon four or five observations over a season. He just doesn't get it. Also, is is not on good equipment. His skis are at least four years old and could, at best be described as "first generation" shaped skis. He seems to be terminally stuck teaching classes at Levels 4-5-6.

It certainly is not the case of him trying something out of the box in an isolated situation.

I think I am going to call one of the supervisors with whom I am very friendly and, without divulging the person's name ask how to handle it.

Bob
post #19 of 23
WVSKIER
Your concern with the quality of your school's instruction is commendable but I am astonished you beleive this possible instance of an instructor being out of step is an exceptional condition. Vail Ski School may very well be an exceptional ski school itself. In my own teaching experience (not at Vail!) it was a rare instructor on staff who could actually ski with contemporary technique, not to mention teach it or speak knowledgeably about it. Instruction was all over the map! I'm curious that you seem terribly concerned this instructor is on 4 year old equipment. Do you feel that the teaching progression has changed dramatically during that time? How does this person actually ski? It has been my own observation that the teaching system, perhaps because of being somewhat racing technically derived has been essentially correct for developing contemporary technique even before the advent of contemporary shaped equipment. Conversely, 4 year old equipment should not necessarily impair teaching contemporary technique. The up-down unweighting technique you mention, on the other hand, is something I associate with the 1960's.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
He seems to be terminally stuck teaching classes at Levels 4-5-6.
... be buggered, probably makes good money making sure he has the biggest class possible as well.

WVSkier, be very, very careful, friends may not be as they seem ... If you want a "career" then just go about your business and nod agreement to everything ... or invent a really good story about lightening strikes There are many holes to fix in the whole dang set-up, are you prepared for the pain of “martyr to the cause”.

On a parallel note on "teaching methods" I spent a season teaching Lev 2 to 4 "contemporary teaching leftovers" (usually less athletic\more fear\low coordination types) in how to turn their feet and ski down the hill instead of across it and step around\lean\push\edge\no idea. These people tip well when one shows them the way to relaxed skiing within their own "personal boundaries".

Arcadie has some truths to ponder. I know of a few instructors that have a whole season full of private clients because they are able to passionately unravel the "confusing mantra" of "tip and turn" that the clients have had "forced" on them by contemporary instructors with no real depth of knowledge in what the holistic mechanics of skiing are all about. The clients make breakthroughs from the instructor digging into their vast bag of tricks to fulfil the client’s personal skiing goals. Of course up\down movements in any hugely visible manner would appear to be a problem.

Now its the instructors that shlep around the place with there hands in their pockets making "less than parallel" turn initiation that one should be focussing on.

But of course the above issues are NOT the problem but rather the end result of "cash cow" SS mentality.

Oz

[ March 27, 2003, 05:30 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #21 of 23
Oz
I've been out of teaching for about 4 years now so my questions about contemporay teaching were more than merely specious. I suspect, though,that commonplace instruction today is just as bad as it was, only different. When I was teaching I had begun to notice a growing number of instructors who fancied they were doing their students a favor, accelerating their development because they were not teaching the wedge in any form or, more importantly, the skill development associated with that milestone. They simply didn't understand the significance of leg rotation in their own skiing, not to mention advanced skiing, hence they failed to introduce it (among other things) to their students. I suppose "tip and turn" is a reference to a contemporary oversimplification. Anyway I can relate to your experience. I still recall one supposed level 3 private who had "successfully" completed level one and two lessons taught by one of these guys. The utter lack of leg rotation was most notable. Yes this student skied with his skis parallel all the time. He could make about a 30 meter radius turn by tipping to one side which barely sufficed him on the beginner slope. That was it! I learned quite a bit from this guy. I've always tried to teach a pretty complete set of skills beginning with level one so guess I had never fully realized the significance of some pretty basic development in performing mundane tasks like traversing. This student was utterly lost attempting to traverse even a moderate slope. He either skied down the hill or turned into it enough to eventually slide backward. But he was a "Parallel Skier"! Yippee! Anyway ski school management appeared completely unperturbed by this "new" school of deficient teaching which makes me wonder how well WVSKIER's comments will be taken.
post #22 of 23
I had a fantastic time opening the eyes of the "timid & uncoordinated" to the power of skidded round turn from the foot. Suddenly they where in control, relaxed and very grateful. They became skiers, albeit skiers at their own speed and on chosen terrain BUT skiers non the less. Ones that WILL come back, again and again. Ones that will learn to tip and turn all in good time or maybe they will not … does it matter to them?

The funniest moment was when I asked one particular soul if she did any other sports and she said piano playing, we both laughed heartedly BUT the lesson key then became "tunes & turns" .... What type of piano stool do you have? Um one with four legs and a seat, okay when you get home buy one that swivels and practise your upper\lower body separation whilst you play .... laughter all round and total understanding of what was required for the next step in skiing. Lets do a private lesson tomorrow, hey I would love to BUT $525 a day sheesh sorry heres a $50 tip and I will see you for a class tomorrow and the next five days.

Did the SS value me picking up the "hard cases" yep sure fantastic .... Did they reward me ... nope "the system does not work that way" .....Bye thanks take care.

Oz [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #23 of 23
Isn't it great to take your expertise and use it to accomplish something remarkable? I miss that, and sharing the joy of my students as they learn.

As you say, sometimes it gets noticed by the ski school but it doesn't really figure into the system as anything significant. I find it extremely odd that, in this business, concern for the quality of the product, as reflected in WVskier's post, is seldom a very high priority. In most business, I suspect, the service or other product offered is carefully monitored as critical to the future success of the business. In this one the bottom line seems to be the primary concern. That seems strange, because its an essentially backward looking preoccupation. Most business people I know are focused toward the future, on building business levels, making more money and attending to the concerns that will cause this to happen. You might say this business knows a lot about where it has been but not necessarily much about where it is headed or about what it might have or could accomplish.

[ March 28, 2003, 08:27 PM: Message edited by: arcadie ]
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