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'nuther question for instructors (past and present)

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I recently (today) agreed to don the cowl of Ski School Liason for the PSIA-Northern Rocky Mt. Region. Inspired by Vailrider's post, I'd like to ask a few questions to get me started... as one of my tasks in the coming months is to start up a survey of sorts and gather information from our region's membership on the subject of membership retention. (run-on sentence) I don't wish to start any debates or banter. Just answers to the questions is all I would need. (Vailrider's thread seems to be taking on that role.) I would have posted a poll, but in my eye, those don't give you the opportunity to say EXACTLY what you want to!

So without further ado... here's the questions.

1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?

That should be a good start. I don't know how many of you there are out there, but I really AM interested in those who have taught before, and stopped... for whatever reason. I'm just trying to get my feet wet here, and ANY response is appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

Spag :
post #2 of 29
Both my wife and I are former instructors. I'm a level III, she's a level II. We keep our membership because we enjoy the events, they are low cost, a great value and we like the people. We both enjoyed teaching but grew tired of the whole ski school racket. I concluded, ultimately, and I think my wife would concur, that it is a bad scene. We liked the teaching, the people, generally, the cameraderie and the opportunity to share the sport we love with others. The fundamental truth of the racket though is that these are exploited by a profit driven industry which does not have the decency or the sense, actually, to care about the employees that make this profitability possible. I stuck it out a little longer than my wife, perhaps buoyed a bit psychologically by getting the level III but realized pretty quickly that the certification or the skills I brought to the job were not very important to the folks I worked for. Its pretty amazing to me that any business could have so little regard for the quality of the product they sell but I do think that the business is focused more on sales opportunity than quality of service. Anyway the feeling of being and having been exploited just grew stronger each year. Kind of like a sensation of having been mugged and robbed each season by a genial thief who puts his arm on your shoulder and invites you back again for the experience.

In my experience, the majority of new hires did not last the full season. If they did, they were apt to return. I think many are suprised, even apalled, to discover what is all about. There is a very strong appeal in the rewards of teaching and in the joy of the sport and the vigorous physical life that appeals to some of thr best people I know.

As for PSIA, I think its a great club and perhaps we should begin to think of it that way. There are some great people running it and the organization does play an important role in their careers. The organization provides great value to its members who attend its events, in my opinion. As for providing value to the sport, I think the industry, which is a business after all, has demonstrated that it regards PSIA as more or less irrelevant. This isn't to say that ski area business associations don't come up w/ a little PR piece once and awhile regarding their commitment to ski instruction for growing their industry or something but the real truth is shown by action. If PSIA were to suddenly dissapear the impact upon the industry would be minimal. What little vacuum appeared would be quickly filled by Harb type entrepreneurs but I doubt they would find much space to fill. The simple fact is that PSIA has not made itself important to the industry or to its members, except as a provider of services to its members.
post #3 of 29
1. Way to many reasons to cover here but the biggie is that working as an instructor in the southeast is one of the best ways to ski with people at my skiing ability peer level. Many of the other reasons stem from that one - like opportunities to improve my skill level and mountain experience as well as to get through lift lines in a reasonable amount of time (worse in the southeast than many parts ofthe country). Another unrelated reason is that I enjoy giving something back and helping others enjoy the sport.

2. This doesn't apply to me. I will say that I almost dropped my PSIA membership during one time period due to ineffective communication from educational staff around an exam experience.

3. I feel region I'm in can do three basic things - improve the membership experience through better communication to members in all aspects, make us the exclusive providers of a premium product and make the lowest level harder to achieve.

In communication I feel that the region leaves it to the members to explain many items about the membership opportunities and benefits to each other by word of mouth. This ranges from event content through areas of improvement in personal skiing. The examiners/clinicians and regional administrators should be much better equipped for that. Based on past behavior and communication tools in place I believe this is an area for improvement.

By providing a premium product I mean PSIA needs to provide something to its members that they can obviously take to the bank that non-members can not. I have obviously benefitted from being able to be hired at a new resort without progressing through hiring clinics and I am higher in the picking order for class assignment than non-members and level 1 members. However, teaching higher level classes frequently cuts my head count pay. I believe PSIA should work with resorts - select resorts at first - to develop trademark premium lesson products that people pay more to purchase and insist that only PSIA instructors deliver the content. This is one of the best ways to develop a brand and PSIA - regional as well as national - need to work on this in order to provide members enough of a benefit to stay. It's really embarassing to tell a potential customer that I am a dedicated professional who is available at the same price as the hungover kid in their first year and that it is a roll of the dice that determines whom you get as your instructor.

One of the most amazing things to me as a first year instructor was that I skied better than many PSIA level 1 instructors at my resort. It was more disappointing when Level 1 membership was awarded to instructors in my exam who could not ski a southeastern black diamond trail (note typical of intermediate trails at destination resorts) without using a wedge as their primary speed control device. Same experience with teaching content and delivery ability. Later it puts us in an awkward position when newbies ask "how did that incompetent teacher ever pass an exam to become a level 1 instructor?". It's even more embarassing when a student in skier's level 2 lesson tells you that a member taught them to use upper body rotation to start a turn and that they did no balance drills before introducing turning. I don't mean to harp here but I believe the regions should revise the minimum level 1 entry exam requirements to make sure competent skiers and instructors with ownership of certain knowledge about the way the sport is conventionally taught are accepted as members. If we all have to jump a high hurdle and can look upon our peers with respect it makes the membership more valuable. That will probably improve the retention rate of level 1 members. It may also improve upon the experience of examiners as they deliver level 2 exam results. I will say eastern is taking steps in this direction but more improvement is needed.

Based on the answers I provided to question 1 (admittedly provided by the nature of the job itself) I am a satisfied member of PSIA and PSIA-E. As a satisfied member I would like to see the organization improve to become the industry leader it should be. The suggestions above are my opinion of the things the organization should do to make those improvements.

4. Please see the appropriate paragraph in my response to question 3. In addition to raising the bar for level 1 membership I believe the introductory packet should include a more effective guide to the administrative, technical and other aspects of the organization and the products we deliver. By effective in this case I would like to see it have an easy to read comprehensive colorful introduction (grabber) and a more thorough explanation.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it helps.

Aar
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Ask and ye shall recieve! Arcadie and Aarhead, thank you. Those are exactly the kinds of things I'm looking for.

As a current member and instructor who was recently "promoted" to SSD, I feel and see many of the same things. I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to play on both sides of the net, so to speak. SAM pulls me one way, while my heart pulls me another. So far I've been able to find ways to keep both sides happy, but I honestly feel that my own instructors are getting the short end of the proverbial stick, despite my best efforts. Only thing to do is battle on. That's one of the main reasons I've taken on this position with NRM... to create a more influential presence at my own area and use it to tip the scales in the instructor's favor. My hope is that whatever I accomplish regionally will have an effect locally. We'll see how it works out.

Anyone else feel free to answer my questions honestly. (I may post my own answers later.) They're pretty open-ended, so have at it!

Thanks,
Spag :
post #5 of 29
Spag,

Congrats on the SSD job and the caption contest.

1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?
- I love to teach, I love to ski and I love the social atmosphere. I also like the pro deals and the ability to attend PSIA events.

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?
- I have considered stopping because of the dismal working conditions and political crap that goes on at my ski school. However, I have stuck it out. I agree ver much with what Arcadie wrote.

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?
- I feel that the dues are worth it. My 9-5 desk job deals with corporate finance, so I know that it takes money to get things done. I think that the people on the Eastern board should be paid for what they do. It would be wildly hypocritical of me to say that they should do it for free. They need to make a living too. Plus, it takes money to pay the rent for their office, and for the computers, and for the creation and mailing of newsletters and info. In the East, we have regional meetings that they need to travel to and attend. It all costs money. And if you do attend events, and realize how cheap they are, meet the people and realize that there are a lot of people getting a lot of stuff done behind the scenes for very little compensation, then you start to understand that it's a bargain.

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?
- I think the main reason is the dismal pay, and the fact that around here, the rookies get hammered with 10-15 people at a time, in beginner lessons all day long, with virtually no break. Plus, most of the instructors here are part-time and don't need the money to live, but need respectable pay as compensation for effort they put out. I've been doing this for 20 years, and I still have a hard time with the fact that my ski area brings in about $300 for a level 1 group of 10 people, and puts out about $15 ($10 to the instructor and approx $5 overhead costs) to teach the lesson. Even as a level 3 cert with 20 years under my belt, it only takes 2 people in a lesson for the ski area to make a profit on my time. Next is taht the general public (advanced skiers) has this glorified impression of ski instructors, because they don't frequent the beginner areas, and they don't see the massive groups of lessons clogging the flats and beginner hills. They're impression of ski instruction is the instruction that they get at their level, which is small groups skiing all over the hill, having a good time and learning. They also see the instructor clinics that are out, and think that they will be doing nothing but skiing with their peers and cruizing the hill all day impressing people and learning to ski better. The ones who seem to survive (and we get quite a few of them), are school teachers, and people who are not all that great as skiers. The reason is that these people see the beginner areas more, and the teachers understand the concept of teaching and enjoy it. The hot young skiers and riders are the ones who are disillusioned and quit or don't come back.

That's my $.02
post #6 of 29
"I would have posted a poll, but in my eye"....Hey Spag, didn't I see you do that in Telluride?
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Aaah, Robin! Taking "muzzle-loader" loader shots as opposed to your normal "machine-gun" philosophy! Anyway, no. You are mistaken. It's not "posted a poll, but in my eye..." It's "posted a POLE, RIGHT in my eye..." (and my lip and my cheek, and my forehead...)

For those of you who don't know, Robin and I used to ski together often (when I could drag him out of his office.) and one day in Telluride I pulled a stupid, and upon landing said stupid, my face came into direct contact with the top of my ski pole and it opened me up pretty good. All this the day before a PSIA clinic! Looked like someone beat me within an inch of my life!! Good to hear from you again Robin. Cheers to your fam.

John H. Another good post. Thank you.

Spag :
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Notorious Spag:

1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back? :
a) I like the people, both my co-workers and my students. I have students that I have spent more than a week with every year for the past 10 years. Unlike most in the ski instruction world, (from all the stories I hear here and elsewhere) I actually make a descent living working fulltime for Vail. I know it won't make me rich. But with tips it's really not too bad. Would I like more of the pie? Sure. Teaching in the winter and operating a landscape business in the summer has created a very comfortable lifestyle for my family and me.

b) N/A

c) As a member of the RM board I will just enjoy reading what other Epic members have to say here.

d) I think many one-year instructors we see here in Vail plan to only stay for one year from the very beginning. They come out after college and want to hide for a year, maybe two. I think low pay for someone starting out is a little tough. When I started teaching it was more of a part time thing. Only after getting my full cert on the East coast did I decide to move west and pursue a full time career as an instructor. New instructors have to work too many jobs to pay the rent. And what’s the fun in that?
post #9 of 29
First, I would like to agree with every body on what has been said. There is a lot of truth to all of it. Good and bad. I will try to not repeat myself too much. Read the last paragraph of my post to see where my opinion is somewhat different.

1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

I am a graduate student so I have a love for learning and teaching, I love the ski instructors camaderie. Would love to have the opportunity one day to make a living at it since I like better the snow and mountain than the beach. My wife does not agree completely on this one.

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?

The reasons to stop are different for me depending if I was part time or full time. Money was the major issue as a full timer but not the primary one as a part-timer. The needs and reasons change depending if you do it for a living or if you are trying to fullfill other needs.

Reason to stop full time teaching: Not enough money to pay the rent. Thats all. So I kept doing it part time so money would not be an issue anymore.

Reason to stop as a part timer:

I did stop because of the lack of support of my ski area. I passed my level 1 and 2 without any help and honestly they could not care less if I am full cert or not. Teaching all the time without a significant break between lessons, working 7 days a week if you count my week jobs and getting burned out at the end of the season. Not learning anymore, no fun, not feeling appreciated except by your student. No way to built business. Advance skiers started to request me for private only to be told that I was only available for group lessons and that on those they did not chose who will teach them.

They never received a single complaint about me and my customer service was perfect. My snowsport director wrote me in a letter that he wished he had 10 like me on staff. But when I ask them to clinic me for my level 3, he said they had no time for it. I asked to at least let me hang around the race dept so I expand my knowledge, I got nothing. The guy at the race dept would have been happy to have me but my SSD blocked it because he wanted me in the ski school. That was not employee management it was dictatorship! I felt like I belong to them and any initiative from my part was unwelcome and shut down as long as it did not serve the immediate interest of the ski school. My interest to develop professionally was not important for them.

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?

Clinics are good if not excellent when available. There is not enough clinics especially for part timers on weekends.

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?

If they are full time it is definitively the money.

If they are part timer read what follow. Lack of achievement at a personal level.

My wife and brother in law got part time into the ski school. They had a lot of potential but they quit. In their first year, they got a few clinics to help them pass their first level, to ski better and teach better. On their second year, as mentioned previously by someone else, they got flooded with lessons with no time to breath in between. There was no support to help them become better skier and teacher and they felt that they still had so much to learn to do their job better. They felt a sense of pride and achievement in their job but they also felt inadequate. Their desire to help and teach was getting frustrated. They were also ashamed and self counscious of never getting any better at their teaching and skiing as feedbacks were never provided to them. I had to take them out and teach them on the rare occasion we were getting to ski together (even if I hate to teach relative). Nobody else was giving them teaching tricks and helping them with their skiing.

The following does not reflect my experience as I was already an advance skier and teacher when I started teaching ski in the U.S. I do not believe that making the level 1 skiing requirement harder would help the ski instructor cause. It is more important for an instructor to have the desire to teach than to be an elite skier. Where we fail is to make those ski instructor better skiers. What does it tell when someone teach ski at a ski school for years and stay a level 1 all that time? If that ski school cannot teach their own instructors better should they be teaching you? If SS need to recruit only expert skier to teach does it mean that becoming an expert cannot be taught by them? IMHO, the desire to teach is harder to find in skiers than the ability to ski at a high level. Since those who love to teach stay at it longer. We should be able to teach and grow those individuals that have the desire to give some of their time and let them have the satisfaction of constantly getting better at what they love doing. I do believe it is possible to take a lot of those level 1 and make them level 2 and 3.That is the best way to make sure there is a better level of skiing among instructors.

Edited for typo and or grammar as usual.

[ October 02, 2003, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: Frenchie ]
post #10 of 29
Frenchie
Well stated! Your experience mirrors mine to a suprising degree. In my instance, my wife found that, as soom as she madw level II, all teaching and training oppoertunities evaporated. The ski school had her babysitting some rich people's kid every weekend. They seemed to view us as moneymaking machines, perhaps forgetting that part time teaching is an elective decision and the significance of motivation. She also felt that she had so much to learn about teaching that the school was unwilling to provide.

I'd have loved to continue teaching full time as well but I was going broke doing it. I also found myself similarly thwarted (by my ski school)in my attempt to develop a request clientele.

In my case I was probably fortunate that my school was uninterested and unwilling to provide training for level III certification since their training was so poor. I was only the second person in 10 years or so at that ski school to make level III. The other was my mentor who left the year after I did.
I find it curious butnot surprising, that those who remain the core of the ski school, at least at this particular resort. are not those with a passion for learning and improvement but, instead, those who are comfortable with things as they are. Seen in this context, if your goal as a ski school director was just to be able to reliably place a certain number of warm bodies in front the prople you'd sold the product to then it would seem unnecessary to provide training to people who are always pursuing certification and personal development.

I was also dismayed at the number of people who had been teaching far longer than I who had so little understanding of the teaching system and whose own skiing seemed never to improve. What I found was a great deal of bitterness directed at PSIA and, to some degree, at those few who pursued certification successfully. Its difficult to accept that a culture and a school whose alleged function is to teach skiing cannot teach their own.

I am not sure I agree with you that those who love to teach are necessarily those who stay at it longer. There are other rewards, the social scene, the perks, etc that keep people coming back. I feel there are certain qualities that are affronted by association with such a scene. I realize not every place is alike and no doubt some are thicker skinned than others but to love what you do and take pride in your work requires certain conditions be present or at least the ability to effect change. I have seen many leave because their love of the work was such they could not bear to do it anymore.
post #11 of 29
1. What brings me back for the third season is my passion for skiing and desire to instruct. It is not for the pay.
2.N/A
3. At this time, I would say that I am satified because I am a fairly good skiier but needed the clinics to be able to instruct what is the most current and efficiently, so that the student would be satified. Personally I like to have as much training as possible, so that I am more than equiped to do the best that I can do.

4. Instructors get disenchanted with both the pay and the idealism of what they percieve instructing to be.
post #12 of 29
I have always been just a part-time instructor. I came to teaching because I have been a corporate trainer for years and upon taking up skiing, it seemed a very natural fit for me.

1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

- It's a few things:
a. the professional development clinics (teaching and personal skiing) are wonderful
b. helping people fall in love with skiing makes me feel good
c. I love to ski and the industry is in jeopardy of stagnation... if I want to keep skiing, then I should help to get others involve (protects my interests)

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?

- I had career issues for awhile (working many hours, travel, etc) and stopped teaching because I couldn't handle the demands of 2 jobs... as much fun as teaching skiing is - it's a job and I didn't want to give up my weekends to work, I wanted free time for me.

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?

- N/A I am not certified

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?
- My reason for coming back is explained in question #1... I can not guess for others.

I have stopped teaching and started back up again. As a part-time ski instructor, perhaps my starting and stopping is less significant. It's definately something I would do FT if my circumstances were different. I'd love to find a way to make my current salary in the ski industry!!!

thanks... :
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by arcadie:


I find it curious but not surprising, that those who remain the core of the ski school, at least at this particular resort. are not those with a passion for learning and improvement but, instead, those who are comfortable with things as they are.

I was also dismayed at the number of people who had been teaching far longer than I who had so little understanding of the teaching system and whose own skiing seemed never to improve. What I found was a great deal of bitterness directed at PSIA and, to some degree, at those few who pursued certification successfully. Its difficult to accept that a culture and a school whose alleged function is to teach skiing cannot teach their own.

I have seen many leave because their love of the work was such they could not bear to do it anymore.
Arcadie, funny that situations can be so similar yet so far away in distance. Is there some seminar at the National Ski Area Association that teach snow sport director or ski area admin this kind of bottom line?

I have to agree with you that the one that stay are not the most passionate about what they do. They are often retired from other professions and teach skiing to pass time and round the end of the month. I called our ski school a retirement program for very average skiers. They also have very little desire to learn and no aspiration at higher level of skiing. When I was arguing with my snow school director aboout the priority based on years of experience, I told him that a lot of them have just done a mediocre job for longer than I did a good one.

I have also seen many that quit that were incredible teachers and skiers. The lineup of full time level 3 was decresing every year I was there. Most of them were there for many years. The situation was not acceptable for them and they left for another ski area or some other jobs. Sad picture in fact.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Notorious Spag:
I recently (today) agreed to don the cowl of Ski School Liason for the PSIA-Northern Rocky Mt. Region. Inspired by Vailrider's post, I'd like to ask a few questions to get me started... as one of my tasks in the coming months is to start up a survey of sorts and gather information from our region's membership on the subject of membership retention. (run-on sentence) I don't wish to start any debates or banter. Just answers to the questions is all I would need. (Vailrider's thread seems to be taking on that role.) I would have posted a poll, but in my eye, those don't give you the opportunity to say EXACTLY what you want to!

So without further ado... here's the questions.

1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?

That should be a good start. I don't know how many of you there are out there, but I really AM interested in those who have taught before, and stopped... for whatever reason. I'm just trying to get my feet wet here, and ANY response is appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

Spag :
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Notorious Spag:
1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

2. For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?

3. What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?

:
I haven't taught for about 8 years, but will be returning this year so I may have a few answers.

1. Biggest reason, I like to teach. 2nd reason for the coaching and clinicing that I get to push my personal performance. 3rd, I made some of my best friends in ski school, I've been part of some very tight groups.

2. For me it was time. I was out of college trying to start a career. Even though Loveland was close to Denver it was far enough away to start being difficult to be there. My real job was taking more and more time and frankly, the SSD was not very open to this. The free skiing time was also becoming few and far between. Many of us part timers are not there for the money, we are there b/c we enjoy doing it. Take away the fun factor and why do it anymore? That honestly will be a HUGE factor in my return this year. If I give 3 nights a week and some shifts on Sat's and Sun's. I want my off time to be *MY* off time. I have a business I run outside of teaching, life is too short to work 24/7.

3. I've been away too long to answer that right now.

4. The biggest reason I remember was the free skiing mentioned above. Complaints of checking in and sitting all day waiting for lessons. If no lessons, then let them ski and be radioed, paged, or have to check in on decided times. My first year we did lots of free skiing and clinincing when not teaching. We had a very lenient Director and we NEVER screwed her. If we were let loose, we always checked in and always made sure she had instructors on hand for walk ins. It worked very well. I think a lot of first timers join up then realize they don't get to ski as much as they thought both in teaching and free skiing situations.
post #16 of 29
I feel I need to give another response to support the lack of SAM support that we get, which drives people away. And sometimes, it not just sam, but our own SSDs, who get "promoted" simply because SAM is unwilling to pay for a proper replacement.

We had a person at our ski area who just got their L3 last season. This is the only person to pass the L3 from our area in a number of years. This person is VERY interested in becoming a great ski teacher, and doing whatever possible to help the ski school. This person and I even started offering clinics outside of the normal ski school process, to help people advance their skiing and teaching, and to prep them for exams, at no cost to anyone. This other instructor is also very dissatisfied with the support we get from SS Mgt and SAM, so they called SAM to express concerns. It was a very cordial conversation, and at first, SAM seemed to take the concerns with respect. However, we come to find out that SAM then told our SSD that this person was not to be invited back to teach this season. This person's spouse also teaches, and recently got their L2 cert. So, basically, they fired a L3 and a L2 instructor because this person cared enough and had the balls to express some concerns about mgt to SAM. Thanks for nothin'.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?
Retired again BUT, never knowing what the day would throw your way, lots of free skiing, clinics, training, challenge, crazy fcks who are so addicted that their eyes have this weird gleam all the time and they can discuss boot alignment even after 15 beers and a few vodka chasers, hot tubs with drunk people who tip, taking many, many classes of worried women and making them smile (by not being scared anymore [img]smile.gif[/img] ) making friends around the world, bar chats with internationals, listening to the individual life stories of clients and ski workers, travelling the world to ski lots of different mountains and get paid (well come home even anyway) and of course ripping because you practised so hard to beat the system that skiing anything, anywhere, anytime is no problem.

Quote:
For those of you who USED to be instructors, what was the major determining factor in your decision to stop?
Being totally un appreciated by the employer even with excellent return rates and no complaints, watching the whole skill level plummet to basic waiter status and no one caring, SAM excuses on yet another pay and condition cut, SS mafia politics, old boys sitting pretty and filtering the best clients with bullshit, the slog of the repetition, not being able to settle down being a foreigner and getting the feeling that it was all about staying out of trouble rather than doing a good job.

Quote:
What could your REGION (not national) do to make you feel that your dues are worth paying? Please explain. If you are already satisfied, why?
Stop the rot in SS standards. Teach the teachers to ski the words they speak. I don't care what anyone says, if ya under 40, fit and approach instructing with any degree of dedication (as you would with any career) there is absolutely no reason you cannot pass exams all the way to DCL.

Quote:
What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?
They where never hired as part of a communal long-term plan and they soon realise to ski instruct just to ski is a furphy.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
It was a very cordial conversation, and at first, SAM seemed to take the concerns with respect. However, we come to find out that SAM then told our SSD that this person was not to be invited back to teach this season. This person's spouse also teaches, and recently got their L2 cert. So, basically, they fired a L3 and a L2 instructor because this person cared enough and had the balls to express some concerns about mgt to SAM. Thanks for nothin'.
#1 piece of advice, Never never speak up at an "ideas session" put on by SAM and SSM. I found out after I quit (told by SSM)that questioning a rorted "referral" system at a SAM\SSD in a January "please tell us what we can improve" meeting basically blackballed me with certain "senior" instructors for the rest of the season. Speaking openly is not a SS moral in many parts.

Gooorrrnnnnn!!!
post #19 of 29
Oz,

This was not in an open forum. The person called SAM on the phone during the summer and tried to get a face-to-face, but instead, expressed concerns over the phone, when SAM wouldn't set up a meeting. This person is VERY politically correct, and owns his own business (financial world, white collar, lots of $$$), so they know how to play the game.
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by Notorious Spag:
1. What is it about Snowsports Instructing that brings you back every season?

4. What, in your opinion, is the main reason that first year instructors decide not to come back?
What brings me back is that I like helping people get better at something they like doing or will hopefully like doing once they have got into it. There is nothing better as a teacher to see someone "get" something and then just go.

The main reason that a lot of first year instructors don't come back is I think that they realise that it is not the glamorous profession that many people think it is. I think that a lot of people do it as a transitionary thing. They have just finished their schooling and are looking for something to do prior to getting a 'real' job. The fact that they only see it as being a temporary occupation means that they obviously won't come back, but are also not likely to undertake any training or join up with the PSIA.
post #21 of 29
It really scares me to hear some of the stuff that goes on in some ski schools. Those of us who teach in the Summit County/Vail area should count our blessings. There are some problems, sure, but we rarely get classes larger than 8, have a minimum of 2.5 hours to work with our students in each group lesson, get two days a week of official on-snow training with Movement Analysis video sessions once a week in the evening, etc. Honestly, if I had to teach in the conditions that seem common elsewhere, I don't know if I'd be doing it.
post #22 of 29
Frencie, Arcadie, and John H's comments all mirror my own experiences. As far as John H's friend goes I was in a similar situation this summer. The result is that I have left my old area to teach and train at VAIL. Will it be better at VAIL? Will it be worse at VAIL? I don't know, I only know that it will be different and that VAIL wanted ME. And for that reason alone it is worth the change.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by JohnH:
...This person ... owns his own business (financial world, white collar, lots of $$$)...
Not to encourage paranoia, but I wounder if this itself could be part of the reason for their action. I have seen situations where jealousy about the person's obvious ability to think independently and achieve financial or other success in unrelated endeavours tinged working relationships. Sometimes, even jealousy about family wealth arise (eg, "he must be just slumming doing a job like this"). Unfortunately, there are lots of insecure people in the world.

Tom / PM

[ October 03, 2003, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #24 of 29
Tom

Good luck, Vail is a fantastic mountain to teach on.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #25 of 29
Spag, I'll take a stab at questions 1,3, and 4.

#1 Friends. I have friends who are my peers and customers that I enjoy. I also like management at Eldora. I saw the GM today. I like the guy and respect him. I won't go into the details, however, I ended up in his office with a few other "internal" folks last year and to some degree had my ass in a sling due to being a little vocal about another department. Robin was his usual wonderful/supportive self. The GM was as well. I grateful to both of them.

I like pro-repping. Fischer and Marker are great. I doubt I'd be doing this at a large resort after four years. I sell a lot of skis and get a lot of stuff.

No matter how much people say about the wonderful training at big resorts I think there are advantages to working at a small place. For three years we had an examiner as a SSD. Robin replaced Chris and he was also a strong clinician/mentor. I'm not sure I would have passed my level III in three years working at a big resort. I also started supervising and training last year and I know that would not have happened in Summit County in three years.

#2 I happy with PSIA-RM. I have said many times the clinics are superb. In addition to our Bob Barnes I've met/skied with folks like Rick Herwehe, Jennifer Metz (momski and an ESA clinician), Tom Hazard (Hapski), Burt Skall. These are in a word fine folks and great educators.

#3 Why do folks quit? Kids, cold, pay, waiting tables. In Boulder you can wait tables and average $150.00 on Pearl Street. Two years ago I gave a snowboard instructor (female) a ride down to town after work and she asked me to drop her off at the Busstop (sp?) No....that's not a transit stop it's our only Gentlemans nightspot, all nude, vip room, etc.! No Spag I have not. I'm afraid of whom I'd see and I don't think my spouse of 24 years would give me a hall pass. Anyhow, the girl soon quit having seen the bright lights of Broadway! Yes, that is the name of the street the place is on. On a more sublime note, waiting tables is very lucrative on Pearl Street.

New hires get sick of the 4-6 year olds, $8.00 per hour, and cold January weather.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by mike_m:
It really scares me to hear some of the stuff that goes on in some ski schools. Those of us who teach in the Summit County/Vail area should count our blessings. There are some problems, sure, but we rarely get classes larger than 8, have a minimum of 2.5 hours to work with our students in each group lesson, get two days a week of official on-snow training with Movement Analysis video sessions once a week in the evening, etc. Honestly, if I had to teach in the conditions that seem common elsewhere, I don't know if I'd be doing it.
That is so much better as far as education and teaching is going. I don't think any California resort has anything that remotely compare. Maybe Heavenly since they are own by Vail, I think.

Does anybody has anything positive to share about some resorts in California?

Here my day looked like this: 3 two hours group lessons with 20 minutes brake in between to go to the bathroom, drink and eat something. Eat on the lift to get a few runs in. Sometime 30 minutes between the end of the last lesson and the close of the lift, if none of the parents of the 10 year old kids you are teaching is late to pick them up. That is mostly it once the season kicked in. Some seasons you get a few clinics at the beginning because there is not many people and there is so many newbies. At the end of the seasons even if there is not a lot of lessons, you keep working non-stop because so many people quit and they are short of instructors.

Even if it is rough, I have to admit there were some great moments with the other instructors and the student I was teaching.
post #27 of 29
Thanks Oz
post #28 of 29
Catching onto this thread a bit late, but I'll post my experiences. I taught on weekends for one season at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania, and I did last the season. I've never taken my PSIA Level One certification test, but I certainly accumulated enough hours to do so. As for reasons that I haven't gone back:

1) As mentioned before, class sizes for "rookies" is ridiculous. I'd often get 8 or 9 people per class, which I found made it difficult to get any real teaching in. I'm sure more experienced instructors would have an easier time then I did. We'd have lots of instructors who were idle -- why not reduce class sizes and actually get some actual instruction in place? Might cost a little more in instructor pay, but if you get the students coming back...

2) Ski Liberty is within an easy 90 minute drive of both Baltimore and Washington DC. Since we were so close to two major cities, we'd get a lot of students for whom this was just a one-day diversion, and to whom skiing wasn't something they were going to take up as a life long sport. Seems like an expensive way to spend a day, but to each their own.

3) To put it mildly, I had a personality conflict with one of the Level-3 instructors who led the clinics. My experience teaching was the first time I realized that there are multiple certification levels, and it was a rather rude awakening to realize that "Level 3" by no means implies "great teacher". (Note: last comment is not meant to start a flame war).

4) We would do lineups every hour on the hour, pretty much all day long. The combination of staying at lineups a little late (to take care of late arriving students) and our requirement to get there a little early, there wasn't a whole lot (any) break time. It's pretty hard to extend any "thrill of the sport" concepts to your students when basically you have barely gone skiing yourself all season! I started teaching because I love the sport -- I was so drained by the schedule that by the time the season was over, I just didn't care.

All that said, I've seriously thought about teaching again. Now that I know what irritated me about the experience the first time around, I'm hoping to find a mountain here in New England that is more to my tastes.
post #29 of 29
1. The people (fellow instructors, resort staff, guests and students), the sharing, the joy and beauty of the mountains, no cube life (I did my 28 years there) and realizing life is far too short.

2. N/A

3. Perhaps more communication on teaching and technique exclusive of attending divisional clinics. Also some new clinic topics-seems we see the same ones every year; last years cirriculum guide could be this years guide-just change the dates. It gets a little redundant. Most clinicians do a great job.

4. Post-college year(s), limited career opportunities, the struggle with seasonal employment, life growth (marriage and family etc.), marginal income and repitition burn out.

All that being said, each individual instructor bears the responsibility of making their own bed. You will get back what you put into your occupation. There are no guarantees (corporate manager coming out-far too many showed up in my office, saying I am here, when do I get promoted-straight, hard answer-when you earn it by outperformimg your peers).

Some times was really attracts me to my other occupation (besides loving the game) is that when I tee it up I have nobody to blame but myself. Sometimes that is a hard mirror to look in to!!!
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