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Have you ever turned a student away?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I was wondering if you instructors have ever turned away a student who wanted to book you for a lesson? Why did you refuse the business? How did you handle the situation? Did you ask your supervisor for permission? What do you wish you'd done differently, if anything?

Being a dyed in the wool teacher, I have never denied myself the pleasure of working with anyone who demonstrates the slightest interest, but I have told students straight out when it was time for them to fly on their own -- and have truly delighted in seeing former students' self-development beyond our class. I like to think of teaching as starting people off on a journey that they will complete without me. I firmly believe that the goal of teaching is the student's independence--to think, do, and evaluate for him/herself.

There are some students I didn't love teaching, mostly people whose reason for taking the lesson was to justify skiing exactly the same as always. Woe be the teacher who tries to assail those walls. Luckily this type of defensive student is a great exception--most are there to learn and delightful to teach.

So, have you ever told a student it was time to leave?
post #2 of 27
Does running away and hiding from an unscheduled non-private group lesson with your supervisor's help count????

I did witness a former SSD run away and hide from a certain "extremely well-known difficult customer" when I told the SSD this person was approaching from behind them.  Suddenly they had to leave and exit through a security door. 
post #3 of 27
I don't think I have ever turned anyone down, although I have made recommendations of other instructors when I was not available (or maybe I made myself unavailable ).  Deep down I knew these instructors personalities & skills would mesh better with theirs than my own.
Quote:
There are some students I didn't love teaching, mostly people whose reason for taking the lesson was to justify skiing exactly the same as always.

I have encountered this situation on occasion.  Once I have determined that is their attitude, I adjust mine.  I then do my best to make it easier for them to do what they've always done.  In the long run there is usually some positive direction in their technique in spite of themselves.  It is a challenge I sometimes enjoy.  The outcome justifies the means.

JF
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
You reminded me of a student who was way into working out, burning fat, and taxing her limits. She did the bunny-hop in powder, insisting that -- for her -- an energetic approach was the only way to go. I gave her my blessing to explore that approach to her heart's content, while the rest of the group did the exact opposite: slowing down and drawing out their movements, focusing on pressing down and creating deflection to turn the skis rather than jumping the skis up out of the snow and against the pull of gravity to turn them. We had a lot of powder that year; the class was two hours a week for eight weeks. By the end of the season the hop was gone, thoroughly beaten out of her by the volume of powder days we had during class and the clear superiority of her classmates' slow and steady "tortoise" style over her fast and frenetic "hare" style. It's like the breaststroke in swimming versus the butterfly--the first a recreational swimmer can do for miles and the second will make him cry uncle in 100 yards. In summary, I didn't teach her a dang thing, but the rest of the class sure did. 
post #5 of 27
I have never turned  a lesson down, but I have had a few young kids that I've taught numerous private lessons to that I have recommended to the parents that they get their child involved in NASTAR to help build on their skills.  Running the gates is great for getting them to turn on command instead of wherever they want to.
Edited by Snowmiser - 8/27/09 at 5:47pm
post #6 of 27
I've given a student their lesson ticket back after about an hour into an all day lesson. The guy couldn't put away his cell phone for more than five minutes without another business call coming in. Since it was a group lesson the rest of the group voted him out of the group after the third fifteen minute call where he stood on the side of the slope and made them wait for him to finish his call. I politely suggested that in a private lesson all the waiting would be more acceptable but in a group lesson thet rest of the group deserved to have a say in these delays. At that point he shared with us that he was playing hooky and his boss and his customers were his first concern. So it all turned out pretty good because he took care of his business in between freeskiing and the other students got the attention they deserved.
I wonder if his boss ever found out he was a thousand miles from where he was supposed to be. 
post #7 of 27
I was only ever a part time mid week instructor so what few private lessons i did have booked I would never dream of turning down.

But, on the few occasions during which the youth programs were so understaffed that the adult programs instructors were needed to handle the surplus, it became very clear that I wasn't cut out for teaching kids. Don't get me wrong, I loved any kid that loved skiing, but I have no idea how the instructors who teach kids deal with the whining and bitching the ones who don't want to be there or arent willing to learn. In one fairly memorable lesson I booted 5 out of my 7 students cause i couldn't justify holding back the ones who actually wanted to learn.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post

I was only ever a part time mid week instructor so what few private lessons i did have booked I would never dream of turning down.

But, on the few occasions during which the youth programs were so understaffed that the adult programs instructors were needed to handle the surplus, it became very clear that I wasn't cut out for teaching kids. Don't get me wrong, I loved any kid that loved skiing, but I have no idea how the instructors who teach kids deal with the whining and bitching the ones who don't want to be there or arent willing to learn. In one fairly memorable lesson I booted 5 out of my 7 students cause i couldn't justify holding back the ones who actually wanted to learn.
I'm on the same page with you. 

I just don't enjoy teaching kids.  Just too many issues.  That's the one lesson I ducked out of this past season (referenced above).  The kids program was short-staffed as usual so I had to help them out.  I had two little girls the day before.  They alternated between wanting to learn, crying and screaming, then when their parents showed up, they wanted to show what they learned.   My Spanish isn't that great either.  It was hard to tell if they enjoyed the lesson or not.  At the end of essentially a half day private for the two cousins, no tip.   I saw them the next day and the parents and kids were all excited, waving, yelling my name ...... and wanted another lesson.   It wasn't a private lesson.   I had been working my ass off for a week (and some of those lessons were with inner city youth).  I was beat and needed to get home where I hadn't been in a week.  I had done my duty... my supervisor knew that and let me go home.
post #9 of 27
I absolutey have refused to ski with certain individuals.

In one particular case, this client had already skied with quite a number of Vail instructors, and in most cases, the client had informed the supervisor after the lesson that he would not ski with that instuctor again.

Somehow I was selected to ski with this guy (the President of a major entertainment company). He and his son showed up, and off we went. As it turns out, I was nothing more than their pass into the cut line. That in itself is not a real bother to me. But they were rude to other skiers, acted unsafely while skiing, and were the most boorish individuals I have ever met.
Their chairlift conversations almost exclusively were about various stock portfolios, which they seemed to be quite proud of. During these rides, I would sit quietly with my own thoughts, or have a conversation with whatever single happened to be onboard our chair. At one point during the day, a young woman skiing single happened to join us for a chair ride. About halfway up the chair, she (a very well connected NY stockbroker) interjected into their conversation some information, which obviously blew their self admiration session all to heck.

For the first time that day, they were silent for the rest of the chair ride. Internally, I was cheering and thanking the young lady for having stuffed them so well! (I did manage to slip her my card after we got off the chair, she booked me later that week)

When the day was over, I went to my supervisor and was astounded by what he told me. I had made this client's (very) short list of pro's he would ski with! At that time, I did something which I had never done before- I told the supervisor I would never ski with that client again, and explained why. It was a safety issue, above all. He was really that scary to be near on the hill and the rest of my reasoning merely supported that.

There have been others as well, but it has been rare- in over 45 seasons teaching, I have refused less than a half dozen a second lesson.
post #10 of 27
I've never turned down a lesson.

However, if I sense that there might be a rift within a group of people that I've been assigned, I've been known to suggest that people might be more comfortable in another group.
post #11 of 27
I turn lessons down all the time (mostly to let other pros have first shot at them). I've never turned a student down.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

ISo, have you ever told a student it was time to leave?
 
I usually do this (politely) at the end of every lesson.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
What's that Rusty? If a person is a "lesson" they are different than when they are a "student"? Kind of sounds like doctor-talk: "Can you do the kidney in OR 12?" "No, I have to tend to my patient, whose kidney I operated on yesterday." 

Let me ask you a more pointed question: Have you ever told a student that he or she doesn't need more lessons? That it's time to apply and challenge what he or she has learned in various conditions and terrain?

Another way of asking this question would be: are there skiers who come to the ski school who don't need any more lessons, who have developed a dependency on instruction, who would benefit from an instructor's straight talk to venture out into the world of skiing beyond ski school--whether that be Master's racing, assisting disabled skiers, becoming an ambassador for the ski area, or even trying out for ski school? 

I was thinking about this in the context of plastic surgery--and Voltaire's famous quote: Better is the enemy of good. I mean, couldn't Joan Rivers have met an ethical surgeon who would have told her, "That's enough!"?
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

Another way of asking this question would be: are there skiers who come to the ski school who don't need any more lessons, who have developed a dependency on instruction, who would benefit from an instructor's straight talk to venture out into the world of skiing beyond ski school--whether that be Master's racing, assisting disabled skiers, becoming an ambassador for the ski area, or even trying out for ski school? 

Yes there are. That doesn't mean that they are "done", but there are people that need to learn to ski on their own. My wife had a dressage student that rode very well in training when Bonnie was standing there telling her what to do, but couldn't show worth anything. So Bonnie had to teach her how to be in charge of her own riding. I guess that this is Sports Diamond talk when you get right down to it.
post #14 of 27
I once had a "former racer" want instruction for getting back into skiing after 10 or more years off the slopes.  He talked a good talk on the chair and did OK on the outrun.  When we got to a real slope, his performance was scary aggressive with obvious lack of control of his limbs.  He admitted he'd had "several shots of vodka" just prior to lesson time to "help".  I think the booze had just started to take over as we left the chair.  We made a slow, careful, run to the ski school desk to get him a refund.   
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Another way of asking this question would be: are there skiers who come to the ski school who don't need any more lessons, who have developed a dependency on instruction, who would benefit from an instructor's straight talk to venture out into the world of skiing beyond ski school.
 

I often recommend at the end of a session that they practice what they have learned to the point that they either have a command of that particular movement, or they have questions or need clarification on where to go next.  Then it is time for the next coaching session.  No matter the length of the time with the coach, whether it is a day, a week or a season there is always time set aside for monitored practice before they are sent out to fend for themselves.  If the interest is there during a regular lesson, I can always recommend a more concentrated program for further improvement.  I don't believe anyone reaches a point where coaching is no longer a benefit to their development.

I used to own a Water-ski School where I taught a lot of beginners.  I would ski right next to them in & on the water.  It would often get to the point where they became dependant on my being with them in the water, when they were quite capable of doing it on their own.  At some point it was important that the apron strings where cut & they learned to make decisions on their own.  Literally sink or swim!
JF
post #16 of 27
Two years ago I was assigned to instruct a group of three, 10 year old girls from a nearby private academy that made weekly visits to our resort. From the beginning of the lesson it was evident that these three pre-adolescents already had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and were not the least bit interested in what I had to offer them in instruction. I did my best to stay on task and keep my emotions in check for the next hour. From then on, every Wednesday afternoon, I made sure I was scarce, even if I had to volunteer to gatekeep for the high school racers. They at least thanked me for my services afterward.

Karl
post #17 of 27
Was the student who got dropped once, and it left a very long lasting impression.

December of 71, was a young full certified instructor (level III today) and broke an ankle in AK at one of the areas I taught at.  Headed for school at U of Utah since thought that season was over.  End of Jan it started snowing a lot and decided the ankle was healthy enough (after soaking the cast off could walk on it without falling over so must be all better, right ) a few days later went skiing.  After a couple days was not happy with come back so decided to take a lesson (did not wear my pin too embarrassed) and went to Snowbird. 

Bought my group lesson ticket and headed for the meeting area with great expectation.  Was the only one in my level which greatly peeved the instructor.  Lesson times were 2 hours I think, and this guy on the ride up the chair said, 'you only get 30 minutes because your the only student'.  Then it was a 'follow me' 1/2 hour, lousy lesson, total waste of time and money then.  This jerk changed my whole skiing career.

Once the ankle fully healed came back better and stronger than ever.  Taught and worked in ski schools a virtually all levels for another 9 years.  Always tried to give my students, and coveige to my instructors the concept of giving, the full measure of what is paid for.  Ran a lot of lessons long, but never short without mitigating circumstances.  This experience made me a much better teacher.

Thank you crappy instructor at Snowbird that day; you really did change my life.  Sometimes the bad experience can change things in ways we can never imagine.
post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
Stranger, I hope to karma that ski instructor got crapped on worse than he crapped on you, and was equally enlightened.

It brings up another sidebar: as a teacher yourself, do you find that learning what not to do from bad teachers is as influential as learning what to do from good teachers?
post #19 of 27
Can you learn from the negative, I hope so. 

Should you intentionally teach from the negative perspective; tried not to, but leave that to those wiser then this guy. 

I would occasionally clinic from the negative.  Would do a demo or play student type of negative, maybe make a intentionally wrong statement and look for reactions. 
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

It brings up another sidebar: as a teacher yourself, do you find that learning what not to do from bad teachers is as influential as learning what to do from good teachers?
Absolutely!  I have learned many of lifes most important lessons from others mistakes, as well as my own.
JF
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Can you learn from the negative, I hope so.   

I would [...] make a intentionally wrong statement and look for reactions. 

I think a lot of people here on Epic must adopt this same approach in their posts.




Do I turn people away?  Yes.  I think at the higer levels it is crucial.  All too often in ski school we take the custoemr is always right approach.  I used to believe this too.  Over time I realised this philosphy kills the high end groups, because invariably the speed and terrain at which the group can ski is limited to the weakest skier.  This creates a downward spiral, such that the top people stop taking lessons because they feel (and rightly so) they get nothing from the lesson, just standing around.

Several years ago, when I was full time running L6 groups (L6 is the top level).  I would make it clear the speed and terrain we ski to prospective students, if they can't keep up they will be dropped off at the bottom of the nearest lift.  NO REFUND.  This approach worked very very well.  Word quickly got out amongst the local experts that "Level 6 was back".  We went from 1 group of true L6's a day (talking weekdays here) to 3-4 and 4-5 by spring!  Again these are all day lessons, going out midweek..ie Tuesdays! at about $239/pp + tax.

The reason,  people felt they were getting value, and having fun.  Most were repeat customers, week in, week out.  They chose to spend their ski days in my lessons.

The unexpected further benefit of this is it actually increased the frequency with which people attended L5 lessons!  The reason was, people realised to be L6 meant somthing, you couldn't just "show-up" getting to that level became a goal, and people worked hard, and took more lessons to achieve it....kinda like getting the same energy we see in morning sessions to get that next instructor certification level.

I think we should not to be affraid to sacrifice the few to protect the many.  The number of heartfelt "thankyou's" I would get from the true L6 crowd evertime I gave the "no refund" speach made me realise I was on the right track.

For those interested: 
  •  The typical L6 was an 40 to 50 somthing successful professional who either was a L2 or L3 instructor in their earlier days.
  • The number of times i gave the "no refund speach"...daily
  • The number of times i actually dropped someone off....never.
  • The number of times someone voluntarily dropped out....three...I remember each one, they all left on good terms, one even tipped me, and two of the three showed up the next day for L5.  One was very pissed, and I doubt ever showed up again.
  • Most after hearing the speech, and seeing the caliber of skiers in the split would be happy in the L5 group.  Some would even approach me latter, and say "Wow, I had no idea, I have never seen such good skiers in ski school"...I suspect they are right.

I think we need to make ski school open to ALL, ironically this means closing some levels to some people.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

It brings up another sidebar: as a teacher yourself, do you find that learning what not to do from bad teachers is as influential as learning what to do from good teachers?
 

The more I do this, the more I learn from the positive, the negative, and lesson replays internally / externally with supervisors and colleagues.  Seeing bad instruction and more importantly unsafe bad instruction leaves a deeper impression for me.  Realizing that the person doesn't even understand that the instruction was unsafe really scares me.  Most of these people don't make it through their first season.

On the other hand, I've witnessed instances were an instructor should have handed a lesson voucher back to a person and asked that they take a lesson at the next level down.  The person was clearly way in over their head, nearly crashed into other students on numerous occasions, and refused to admit they weren't ready for that lesson level.  They were clearly in survival mode.  Something must have gotten missed in the ski off.  That happens sometimes when you miss the ski off, you get radioed in for a split, show up, and get told "take that group there".   The appropriate group is then long gone somewhere else.
post #23 of 27
Nolo,
 It's the great teachers (not just ski instructors) I remember most because they have had such a profound effect on me. Inspiring me to keep learning and growing as a person, encouraging me not to give up when I 'm weary, and asking me to do the same with everyone I teach. I have a little sign on my desk that has a quote from Squatty Schuller. He mentored me for a couple years over in Aspen and all he asked in return was for me to "pay it forward". My participation here at Epic is just one of many ways I try to keep that promise...

So IMO learning what not to do is a single lesson, insiring other to keep learning has a life long effect. 
Edited by justanotherskipro - 9/4/09 at 6:37am
post #24 of 27
I have recommended that some of my adaptive students use other instructors.  Not because I didn't want them as a student, but so that they could get a different slant on skiing.  Also, another instructor may have ideas that will work for that student both from the instructional and equipment points of view.  If I'm not around the student will listen to that instructor better.  (Adaptive instructors tend to go out in pairs or more with students.)
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

What's that Rusty? If a person is a "lesson" they are different than when they are a "student"? Kind of sounds like doctor-talk: "Can you do the kidney in OR 12?" "No, I have to tend to my patient, whose kidney I operated on yesterday." ...

Let me ask you a more pointed question: Have you ever told a student that he or she doesn't need more lessons? ...

I was thinking about this in the context of plastic surgery--and Voltaire's famous quote: Better is the enemy of good. I mean, couldn't Joan Rivers have met an ethical surgeon who would have told her, "That's enough!"?
 
Sorry Nolo for not being clear. The distinction between lesson and student was to point out that I was turning work, not students away. An example was an upper level group snowboard lesson being requested by a liftie with no other riders at that level. Our ex-SSD was at the lineup. She's level 2 snowboard cert, but rarely teaches upper level riders. The supervisor asked me if I wanted to teach. I offered the lesson to her because upper level lessons are a rare treat and it would have been a good development experience for her. Frankly, I need the backup. She turned it down because she did not think she was good enough. Thinking back, I should have convinced her to shadow me. It was a great lesson.

With lessons and clinics going out almost hourly from 9AM-7PM, I'll often get an opportunity to work an extra lesson or clinic after my shift is over. I may take that lesson depending on time, energy, type of lesson, etc. but I'd only take it based on who if that person was a problem student.

I always try to leave my students with things they can work on on their own as part of a plan for moving forward. I think all students can benefit from more "instruction" at some point, so I would not tell someone they don't need more lessons. I have often told students they need more practice before more lessons.

Joan Rivers? Can we talk? I love Joan, but would not have any ethical problems with her getting more surgery. Puhhlease!
Michael Jackson is probably a better of example of when pros should have said "no mas". What's the difference between Michael Jackson and Mr. Potato Head?
post #26 of 27
Quote:
What's the difference between Michael Jackson and Mr. Potato Head?
 

Michael Jackson has had more noses.........
post #27 of 27
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