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Getting a good group lesson

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm going to be taking a group lesson or two on my upcoming trip to Jackson Hole. I know the best way to assure a good lesson is to book a private lesson with a highly recommended instructor. But, I, as with most of the skiing world, can not afford the many hundreds of dollars this costs. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on how to get a good group lesson with a good instructor. And, how do you get the most out of a group lesson? When I take a lesson I try to tell my instructor how I think I learn best, how I think I ski, my strengths and weaknesses, what I would like to work on, etc. Am I completely boring my instructor with this information or is this a good way to get more mileage out of my lesson? Any suggestions?
post #2 of 27
At my area, somewhat north of Jackson, the person who signs up for a group lesson in the afternoon is almost guaranteed to get a private.

If you request a lesson with a Level III when you sign up, that will improve your prospects for a private with a skilled instructor.
post #3 of 27
Also I would tell the instructor your definition of a good lesson, since it definitely varies from student to student.

I will second the previous comment that if you are level 8 and up and sign up for mid-week lesson chances are pretty good that it will be one on one.
post #4 of 27
Now we know how to get a good instructor and a group/private lesson lets talk about YOUR role in the lesson.

I was telling a student just the other day so many skiers do not understand their role in a lesson. If you want a good lesson you must participate in the lesson. Communicate to the instructor the best way you learn. Are you visual, are you auditory, a feeler, a thinker? You are some of all but think what you are the most of and let the instructor know. What do you want from the lesson? Be specific and make sure you get what you want but be willing to change and adjust. Once the instructor sees you ski the instructor may want to talk to you about changing the focus. If you agree fine if you don’t say so and then see what occurs. Both of you can change and agree to a totally different focus later. Can an instructor do all this in a GROUP lesson? Sure we can and sometimes feel like we can walk on water. Many times I have my students each working on a different focus. It is part of the program and that is why you really want to request at a minimum a Level II PSIA instructor for intermidiate lessons. If you take an advance class like dynamic parallel you will want a level III PSIA instructor.

In ski instruction we call this being student centered and having a learning partnership with our students. This means you need to helps us give you the best lesson we can. If we don’t it may mean we simply didn’t click with each other. Tell me and not the instructor supervisor and I will make sure you get another lesson compliments of the house. Sometimes we just can’t be two peas in a pod and it is nothing against either one of us!

Have a Great lesson and remember breathing and SMILING is not optional it is a necessity.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 31, 2001 10:24 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Floyd ]</font>
post #5 of 27
If there are other people in the group, be the first to say what you want to work on. Unless you want to run gates or huck in the terrain park, most groups will go along with YOUR plan. That's right, be the alpha male.
: However, sometimes it's good to say "just watch me ski a bit and tell me what's wrong."
As for fully certified instructors, some mtns. have so many that you are probably going to get one in an upper level class anyhow. But you didn't mention your ability level. Getting one for an intermediate lesson is probably trickier, but midweek afternoon is probably best for this. Also, some places won't do a one student group lesson. Maybe you could afford a couple of 1 hour early bird privates on consecutive days with the same teacher?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 31, 2001 10:59 AM: Message edited 3 times, by milesb ]</font>
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
So it sounds like ski instructors like to hear what I have to say about what I want to learn and what I think about my skiing. That's good since I was worried about boring my instructor with all my self-assessments and what I wanted to learn.

When I take lessons I'm either level 7 (when taking a bump or powder lesson) or level 8 (for just about everything else). A few years back I was at Big Sky for a little over a week. I took 4 group lessons during the middle of my ski week. For 3 of the lessons I was the only one at that level so I essentially got a private. However my instructor said that when there is only one student in a group lesson the lesson is changed to about half a long as a regular group lesson. Is this common at most resorts? Also, if I take more than 1 day's worth of lessons, would you recommend taking it with the same instructor or trying to get a different perspective with another one? I'll be skiing 6-7 days (JH most of the time and probably going to Targhee for a day). Thanks for the info.
post #7 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by Prosper:
A few years back I was at Big Sky for a little However my instructor said that when there is only one student in a group lesson the lesson is changed to about half a long as a regular group lesson. Is this common at most resorts? Also, if I take more than 1 day's worth of lessons, would you recommend taking it with the same instructor or trying to get a different perspective with another one?

It is common at our area to cut a lesson to half time for a group of one. I had a group of one the other day, spent 45 minutes with an intermediate student; I will be paid $3.60 and NO tip.

If you like the instructor stick with the same instructor but take time to work on what you have been taught after class so you are prepared to move on with some refreshing of what you previously work on. It is my theory and possibly only my theory we teach students what to work on AFTER class is over. I like to tell my students I am giving them a gift package of presents that IF they choose to open the package after class they will find some amazing things that will improve their skiing and fun meter. I can coach you for and hour or two or three but I can’t really change you for the day. Only fun practice and miles on snow will do that. That is the part of the lesson that is hardest to teach! I have turned down privates with repeat students because I thought they were coming back to me too soon. I have never lost a student that I know of for that reason. It is expensive to take lessons even at our small Mid West ski area and I as much as anybody want them the succeed and get there money’s worth. Now clinics are a little different because you have the time to give them miles and continuous coaching throughout the day.


post #8 of 27
That breathing thing I keep forgetting about.

I have had it happen that a lesson was cut for a group of one. I also got (will give a little plug to Snowbird school) hooked up on my last trip with an all day group lesson for group of one with the guy (Joey) who teaches their steep skiing camps. I have also gotten free group lessons at Northstar-at-Tahoe for levels 5 and up.

So take group lessons and make sure you tip instructors that do good job and more of us may get a private.
post #9 of 27
Hi Prosper--

Cutting the lesson time for a group of one is not uncommon, but we don't do it at Copper Mountain. It's not YOUR fault no one else signed up for the lesson! Either way, though, a one-person group lesson is a good deal, even if the time is reduced. Last week I taught four consecutive one-person groups, with the same person--now there's a deal!

Getting a good group lesson is not difficult--you've gotten some good advice here. Demand it! Tell the seller that you want a highly qualified instructor (PSIA Level 3, if in the US). Repeat your request to the "splitting" supervisor--the person in charge of dividing up the groups and assigning instructors to them. They get few such requests, and will be sure to find a highly qualified instructor, if for no other reason than to avoid having to deal with complaints later!

The more you can tell your instructor about specifically what you want out of the lesson, and the more information you can give him/her about how you learn, what your athletic background is, and so on, the more likely you will get what you want. Good instructors will find out this information even if you don't volunteer it, but help them out!

I like MilesB's idea of being the first in the group to state your goals. He may be right that the rest of the group will follow your lead.

And after the lesson, give feedback to the ski school supervisor. If it was a great lesson, let him/her know, and thank him for his help. If it didn't meet your expectations, pass that on too. Any good ski school will take pains to make it right--you may well get a private lesson with one of their very top instructors. Ski schools want you to be happy. But you have to help them provide for you!

Happy New Year!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 27
Nolobolono, I've seen you initiate lengthy and in-depth discussions elsewhere regarding the value of Level III as a TEACHING credential. My understanding of your various comments was that you felt that Level III was not necessarily a test of teaching ability. And, moreover, that many of the best ski teachers are not, and never will be, Level III. So why the knee-jerk advice to Prosper to request (Bob Barnes says "demand") a Level III "to improve your prospects for...a skilled instructor".

What do we REALLY believe? Who does this singing of the "company song" really benefit? Can you honestly make a blanket statement that simply demanding a Level III instructor is some kind of panacea for the needs of every student?

Happy New Year. Here's a toast to vigorous and CIVILIZED debate.
post #11 of 27
David7--PSIA Level 3 is no guarantee that the lesson will be great, and many great lessons have been lead by less than Level 3 certified instructors. A degree in medicine does not guarantee a great physician either, does it?

But would you take your chances with an unknown "doctor" who doesn't have a degree? And if doctors came with different levels of credentials, and you were able to choose a level to work on you, wouldn't you choose the highest?

PSIA Level 3 certification is no guarantee that a lesson will be great. But it DOES assure that the instructor has worked hard and long, and put in a lot of work and training and money, and has attained at least a couple years of experience--more likely at least 5 years. There are, of course, instructors who have put in that kind of effort and dedication, have tons of talent and experience, and teach great lessons but have never taken the Level 3 exam. If you know one of these, by all means, don't hesitate to take a lesson. But if all you know about an instructor is the certification level, why not choose the highest?

PSIA certification exams test candidates on skiing skills, technical knowledge, and teaching skills and knowledge. The standards for each of these three things increase exponentially with each successive level. Level 3 instructors must know a lot more about teaching than Level 1 or 2, in addition to demonstrating a much higher level of skiing skills.

Again, a Level 1 or even non-certified instructor could have a PhD in education, or could be a fantastic instructor without any degree at all. But the odds aren't so good....

Happy New Year!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #12 of 27
David7--another thought comes to mind after rereading your last post. Level 3, or any level of certification, really isn't a test of teaching ABILITY. Teaching ability is far too subjective, and too dependent on the "chemistry" between individual student and teacher, to measure legitimately in an exam. Like regular education certification, ski-teaching cerification requires demonstration of a certain level of SKILL and KNOWLEDGE. These we can measure, fairly objectively. The many intangible qualities that combine to produce great teaching ability are difficult, if not impossible, to measure objectively.

As an examiner, even if I think an instructor is an arrogant blowhard who I would never want to take a lesson from or hire to work at my ski school, if he/she demonstrates skills and knowledge to the required objective standard, I have no real choice but to pass him. I can't very well say, "your skiing is exemplary, and you knew all the right answers, but I can't pass you because, well, I just don't LIKE you...."

This is the biggest difference between a certification exam and a hiring clinic. When hiring, subjective criteria are valid. So it is up to the individual ski school to hire good people, people who will fit into the team and work well with the resort's philosophy and culture--people who will teach great lessons. Certification is a credential--a significant one--but not necessarily an endorsement!

I can tell if you understand our skiing model, and our teaching model. I can determine your level of knowledge of educational concepts--teaching and learning styles, and how to exploit them, practice theory, understanding of principles of feedback and reinforcement and motivation, communication skills, and so on. That's a lot--but it still doesn't promise that you will be able to bond with any given student.

That said, once again, the credential does assure a standard of skills, knowledge, and experience. And the rewards of ski teaching, beyond the personal satisfaction of helping people learn our great sport, are few. So the years required to become Level 3 certified have a way of weeding out most of those instructors who start teaching for the wrong reasons. So while it is NOT a test, or a guarantee, of great teaching ability, certification certainly does increase the odds!

So my advice remains: Unless you have personal knowledge of a great individual instructor, ask for--DEMAND--a full certified instructor. If the resort won't provide one, tell them you'll go elsewhere. Make it cost them NOT to have highly-credentialled professionals on staff. And if that still doesn't get you a great lesson, go back and complain again. The credential is only part of the equation--hold the resort responsible for the full boat!

Happy New Year!
Bob Barnes

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 31, 2001 10:28 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #13 of 27
(In the interest of "full disclosure" I should mention that I became certified at Stowe in 1973. I was a ski school director for seven years and served as regional director of EPSIA. I let my membership lapse when I got out of full-time teaching after eleven years. I have been supervising on weekends at a local area for the past fourteen years. Two years ago I joined PSIA again, as Level 1. I plan to work back up to Level 3. I don't have to, I want to, because I believe in certification and it's a personal challenge. Last year my teenage son became Level 1. He's the third generation - my mother was an instructor and taught with some of the founders of PSIA. I tell you this lest you think I am just another PSIA-basher. I'm not.) But I think that the analogy with a degree in medicine is weak and invalid.

A person is required to have an M.D. to practice medicine. A person is not required to be "certified" to teach skiing.

In this country an M.D. is universally recognized whether it comes from Harvard, Stanford, or the University of Vermont. Accredited medical schools recognize each others' graduates as "doctors". No single school insists that its degree is the only legitimate M.D.

PSIA insists that its training and examining program is the only true "certification". Does PSIA have a copyright on the word?

The business of snowsport instruction could not operate if all instructors were required to be certified before they could teach. Ski instructing is seasonal, largely part-time, and hardly lucrative enough to justify the time and expense of certification. Busy ski schools at the vast majority of small and medium-sized areas, and most resorts, depend on large numbers of part-timers. The school that I used to direct has an enrollment of over 10,000 students in its after-school program. The small municipally-owned area where I now supervise has about 3,000. Areas like this draw heavily from local high schools and colleges for their part-time instructors. Some of these kids go on to become level 1. Most will never go any further.

We also have a number of adults who teach weekends or a couple of evenings a week, and have been doing so for years, These are people who practice law or install carpeting or sell insurance or own grocery stores. For these folks certification is both impractical and irrelevant.

Frankly, at the level that most of these part-timers teach, I would go so far as to say that they do a BETTER job than a Level 3 instructor because they unencumbered by some of the techno-babble and false ego that often accompanies full certification. I'm sorry, but I think that we make ski instruction altogether too complicated. And I've been there, done that.

Some of the best lessons I've ever witnessed (best from the point of view of the success in satisfying the students' needs) have been taught by teenagers with a whole lot more enthusiasm and energy than technical knowledge.
post #14 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>PSIA insists that its training and examining program is the only true "certification"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

David--I'm surprised--Where did THAT come from? No, I don't know anyone who would buy that statement! (If there are any PSIA instructors here among the Bears who would, please correct me.) CSIA (Canadian) certification, Austrian, Swiss, French, New Zealand, Australian, British--ANY of these is a valid credential. So is a USSCA coaching credential. Or a Mahre Training Center coach. Or an Olympic medal. And I'd value a degree in education, physics, engineering, psychology, physical education, history, even medicine. All of these credentials are relevant to teaching skiing. If you've got a choice, ask for someone with ALL of these credentials!

But NONE of these guarantees a good lesson, does it?

No, a person is NOT required to be certified in order to teach skiing. Indeed, there is no training requirement whatsoever! All the more reason to ask for an instructor who IS certified, isn't it? At least you can be assured that he/she has SOME training! And you can be sure that that training is relevant to teaching skiing.

I'm not sure why you disagree with the physician analogy. It doesn't really matter, I guess. But what difference does it make whether a physician is required by law to have an MD--it's still just a credential--a piece of paper that verifies a certain level of training, experience, and demonstrated skill--just like PSIA certification. It still doesn't guarantee someone who cares.... If physicians--or plumbers, or electicians--were NOT required to have licenses, wouldn't you want to pay even MORE attention to their credentials?

And by-the-way--I did not specify "MD" anyway. Doctors, like ski instructors, can have many different credentials--MD, OD, DDS, chiropractic, you name it. Then there are all the alternative health care practitioners. As a patient, you can choose to ignore these credentials, or not--it's up to you. I'll bet you don't!

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>In this country an M.D. is universally recognized whether it comes from Harvard, Stanford, or the University of Vermont. Accredited medical schools recognize each others' graduates as "doctors". No single school insists that its degree is the only legitimate M.D.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

In this country, a PSIA Level 3 is universally recognized too, whether it comes from Vermont, Colorado, Michigan, Utah, or California. Each regional PSIA division recognizes a certification from another division. And no division insists that its certification is the only legitimate credential, either.

PSIA was formed, as you probably are aware, largely to assure some degree of uniformity and consistency of instruction across the country--much, I suppose, like the A.M.A.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>We also have a number of adults who teach weekends or a couple of evenings a week, and have been doing so for years, These are people who practice law or install carpeting or sell insurance or own grocery stores. For these folks certification is both impractical and irrelevant.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Perhaps, but irrelevant for whom? The relevance of any certification, in any field, is to the CUSTOMER, not the pro! These people may well be great instructors--I'm sure some of them are. But I'm sure some of them aren't, too, and given a choice, I'd choose the lawyer, carpet installer, or grocer who has some ski-teaching credentials over one who has none. The certificate may tell the instructor--or physician, or plumber--nothing he doesn't already know about himself, but it tells ME something about him!

Certification is impractical for these people? Well, here I'm afraid you may be right, at least for now. But it will become quite practical if people demand it! And AS people demand it, they are giving valuable feedback to us that will only improve the certification and training process!

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Some of the best lessons I've ever witnessed (best from the point of view of the success in satisfying the students' needs) have been taught by teenagers with a whole lot more enthusiasm and energy than technical knowledge. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No argument there. And if you really think that, for you, an untrained teenager or uncertified part-time instructor will do a better job--then by all means ASK for one--DEMAND it! Go to the ski school desk and insist that your instructor be an uncertified instructor in her teens, if you want to. Some people prefer that their health-care professionals are not MD's too. Ask for an aroma therapist, or a Wizard in a starry robe with a magic wand, if you think it will help you ski better!

PSIA does its best to make certification a relevant, valid, indication of expertise. But if you (anyone) think something else is more important or relevant, then ask for that! Want to learn more about the physics of skiing? Ask the ski school desk if any of the instructors is a physicist. Want an instructor who speaks Romanian? Ask for one! Want a teenager? The choice is yours.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I would go so far as to say that they do a BETTER job than a Level 3 instructor because they unencumbered by some of the techno-babble and false ego that often accompanies full certification<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Techno-babbling and false egotism are NOT required to pass certification, obviously. And I share your disdain for these attributes. But certification doesn't always weed such people out either. Well, actually, the unrestrained techno-babbler who can't get a point across simply and clearly isn't likely to impress an examiner. It's a well-known fact that techno-babblers in an exam are more likely to dig their own graves than anything else. But again, certified or not, if you get a lesson from an egotistical babbler, and you don't like it, complain to management. Certification verifies skills and knowledge. It's still up to management to hire the right people!

Anyway, David, I'm not trying to give you a hard time here. I completely agree with you that many great lessons have been taught by uncertified instructors, and that many lousy lessons have been taught by certified instructors. And as I said, if you think other criteria are more valid, then by all means you should ask for THAT at the ski school desk. And the specific criteria that should be verified by PSIA certification are always open to reasonable debate.

Certification is what it is, nothing more--nothing less. It's an ongoing process--and often a struggle--to maintain its relevancy. The most important principle underlying the foundation of PSIA's American Teaching System, since its inception, is to serve the needs and motivations of the skiing public. Some may argue--I often do--about the specifics of the certification standards, but the goal remains to validate the skills that are important to teaching skiing. It's not perfect. What is? But we're working on it, and will continue to do so.

So I'll modify my original suggestion, for you, David. To find a quality instructor, decide what criteria and/or credentials--or lack of credentials--are important to you. And ask for THAT at the ski school desk. My SUGGESTION is that, for most people, in the US, PSIA certification is a very good bet over an instructor who is uncertified. It will dramatically improve your odds for a qualified, competent, dedicated instructor.

But you pay your money. You're entitled to take your choice!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #15 of 27
Yay, Bob!

David, It's not fair to have me engage in a conversation before I arrive.

But Bob said all that I would have said. I believe the healthcare analogy holds for ski lessons, given the choices are in a similar range.

I said to ask for a Level III, which is entirely consistent with past logorrhea. You're playing a percentage game in doing so, but it's a fair bet that you'll get a better quality pro at Level III than any of the other options.

How would you select a lawyer? They all pass the bar before being able to practice. Is it "trial and error" (pardon).

How about someone to cut your hair?

I think we play the same game when we select ANY professional, do we not? Minus word of mouth from a reliable source, we have to trust in the middleman at the registration desk, the class split (Copper still does those, Bob?), or dumb luck: we can at least hedge the bet by demanding the highest certified instructor available.

Happy New Year everyone. (No exclamations this day...)
post #16 of 27
David – My colleagues have said it best but I want to add just a few thoughts.

I am teaching part time at a Mid West ski area. Over 25% of our instructors are level III and many are level II & I. It is not irrelevant to them or to me since we have approximately (150) instructors all part timers.

Secondly we tend to think of skiing as a “mountain” sport and yet there are a lot of lessons taught by part timers in “backyard” ski areas. Many of these areas have little time and budget to do a good job educating their new hires and providing training for the rest of the gang. PSIA certification in fact assures of at least a pretty well trained instructor. As you know the various levels require a variety of difficulty within the requirement with Level III more difficult certification. Requesting a certified Level III instructor will not assure you of a good lesson but it will most likely assure you of a pretty well trained instructor and take some of the guesswork out for the customer.

PSIA is not the only game in town but it is the game we know best and it is the game the customers and the industry recognize best. I would bet most instructors would agree and wish the skiing public asked for certified instructors more often. That would encourage all of our non-certified instructors to become members of PSIA and obtain their certifications. If a student of mine was going to and area in say Canada I would recommend they hook up with a full certified Level IIII CSIA instructor and yes if only PMTS was available and they wanted a lesson I would advise them to hook up with a Black level instructor. If there were no organization connected to the ski school I would give them other criteria to ask for based on my knowledge of the student. Years ago Killington actually “tested” the student and “matched” their learning style to the instructor. You can find the “test” in one of Horsts original books.

Have a Happy New Year

post #17 of 27
I guess since I'm a III in III countries, I would say that it is at III (or I would surmise Black in PMTS) that instructor humility begins and technobabble/skibonics diminishes. At least that has been my experience.
Bob, you always are crawling aroung in my mind, saying what I woulda if I were so eloquent. (bytheway, be careful in there, I once had a shrink tell me my mind was like a bad neighbourhood......best not to go in there alone!)
post #18 of 27
Absolutely great and dead on comments by Bob, Nolo, Floyd and Robin. I especially like the thought by Robin that level 3 is where true understanding begins.

Nolo, at Copper we do a verbal split at line up then validate that split on the hill. I'd say that 95% of the time we get it right with the verbal split. During the vebal split the instructor assigned to that class is checking the student's goals, prior skiing experience and understanding, checking equipment as well finding out how long they have been at our altitude (base elevation 9,600 ft).
post #19 of 27
Good observations about humility and true learning. You've got to climb to the top of the foothills before you can see high how the mountains beyond really are! Unfortunately we do see some folks much higher than cert III who continue to have their blinders on. But then, ego induced blindness is the great scourge of not just teachers - but many students, and not just in skiing but in all sports and professions!

I've been doing some research and thinking on the subject of negative and positive effects of ego in coach-client and coach-coach interaction lately. Pretty interesting. Unfortunately there is very little written on the subject of ego in teaching and learning. Most of what you find out there has been written by martial artists and some folks into eastern philosophy's. Its too bad, because whether it is teaching high school gym, or college physics . . . or skiing. Many exprienced teachers will tell you it is perhaps THE most central issue in the process. Not only is it not talked about very much, I think that in general the subject is so close to home for most of us that it extremely difficult to even think about, certainly we don't want to -talk- about it!

Think I'm going to try and organize what I'm finding from reading and discussing this subject into an article for The Professional Skier. If anybody is interested in this subject maybe we could start another thread?
post #20 of 27
Todd- You wrote an article awhile back on 'Ego and the Skier' or something close to that title. Your article expressed what I have seen on the slope for decades, as I am sure many of us have. I posted that article on my web page including your name as the author. I hope you don't mind. I thought of it as THAT important. As I have said in other threads- as balance is so important in skiing, so is attitude so important in one's character. Attitude begets behavior. Behavior begets one's character on the slope, and elsewhere as well. This is exemplified in one's own assessment of skill level, but also one's interactions with others.
It would be good to repost that article or link to it. Perhaps it would be a good beginning for another thread.
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
OK. Thanks for all your great input. So, it sounds like certification doesn't really matter, right?

Just kidding! I appreciate all the well thought out responses. I'll ask for the PSIA Level III instructor for myself and let you know how it goes.
post #22 of 27
Prosper, another idea at Jackson would be to ski sans instructor for a day and find out where you are comfortable or not. Use those locales as references for the instructor(s). If you are there in a slow period(which, this season, might be all season) you might end up getting something similar to a "group-private" anyway.
Mountain Masters is a program or format that JH has that would get you all over the hill, they keep those groups small.
Anyway, get your legs, hit varied spots, particularly Rendezvous side and use your success/distress on those spots as feedback to your teacher(s). They should "get it".

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 02, 2002 06:33 AM: Message edited 1 time, by John J ]</font>
post #23 of 27
Thanks jyarddog - no problem with the posting of it, I'm flattered that you liked it enough to use it! I retain republishing copyright to all my writing, even if it was published elsewhere - and if I put it on the web it means I don't mind how often it is copied as long as my credit apprears with it.

That article suited my purpose at the time, but now I want to do a completely new, and more in-depth look at the issue. That article itself was motivated some out of my own ego insecurities! Recently I've finally began to better internalize some of the lessons given to me years ago by a great martial arts teacher. Its been easy to talk about it, but it is far more difficult to look at ones own ego motivated behaviors! However if as an Instructor Trainer I'm going to be able to effectively broach this subject with our pro's - I need to really have a handle on it myself. So right now I'm trying to step back and look very objectively at the issue of how ego effects instructor-student interaction, and instructor-instructor interaction. Its definately not a quick and easy subject to delve into!

The real trick is going to be figuring out how to approach the subject with those instructors who would benefit most from it . . . and those people are going to be the ones most unwilling to discuss it!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 02, 2002 08:21 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Todd Murchison ]</font>
post #24 of 27
Todd- Thank you. the word 'ego' as we all understand it fits well even though the proper definition is far different. However, in the vernacular sense, it fits. I'll stand on a hill and watch others now and then. I'll watch for problems I see in technique to see if I can spot them problem. I figure it's good training and practice for me in becoming a better teacher. I'm not PSIA yet, but my boss said he'll get me certified soon. So I'm one of the grunts on the hill, I guess. : But then I'll see someone who is obviously a better skier than I am. I'll watch to see what he or she is doing right and try to work on it. I must admit I feel a tinge of envy which I 'fight down'. I guess we all do that. Some are more successful than others! [img]redface.gif[/img]
If I get a student whom I can't help because he's better than I am, I'll refer him to someone else or tell him to get his money back at the ticket window if I'm the only game on the hill at that time. I just want to give some back of what skiing has given me over the years. Now... where DID I put that study guide?
post #25 of 27
While I am an instructor and a ski school director, I am first and foremost a student of skiing. In our work as ski teachers, we are often subject to clinics, professional development days and numerous "sessions" with the elite gurus of our game. So many of us are as much students as are you, prosper. We never stop learning.

The majority of these clinics are done on a group basis... I was constantly finding myself frustrated in these group settings, trying to learn someone else's skiing.

It was when I began to realize that the higher "up the ladder" ability-wise, one gets, the more responsibility one must take for their own learning. For a long time, I was afraid of offending the instructor, and would not come out and say: "Don't teach me anything, just let me learn." This is my personal style and when I gained the confidence to assert it to skiers and teachers I felt were "superior" to me in these respects, this is when my skiing began to grow by leaps and bounds.

All too often, an instructor creates his own agenda in a lesson. In a group setting, the instructor tries to "paint" the class with the broadest brush possible. This I call "shotgunning"... firing out a blast of scattered pellets and hoping some of them hit the right spots. From the instructors' standpoint, this makes a class more manageable without so many individualities to keep track of. A SKILLFUL instructor must realize that any group lesson should be a number of private lessons running simultaneously. He must conduct his business on terrain that suits the slowest/weakest of the group while providing exercises and directions that challenge the strongest. This is where the experience and training of higher certified teachers is of greatest benefit. Still, higher certification does not guarantee a better lesson. As many others have said, though, it does increase the odds greatly.

When we go to the doctor and he says, "yep, you've got spanakopitaosis, take these pills for 2 weeks", we generally say "Gosh, OK Doc." He's the doctor after all... same with our ski instructors. We tend to believe whatever he says even though we may not quite understand the cure. Generally speaking, not many of us question the word and authority of professionals.

We should.

So, to make a long story short, YES! Tell your instructor what you want from YOUR lesson. But, realize that YOUR OWN responsibility level goes up along with your ability level. Study, watch videos, talk skiing with your buddies... expose yourself to as many avenues of learning as possible so you can provide your teacher with positive and meaningful input. Learn how YOU learn and you can get the most out of any lesson experience, whether it be a group or a private.
post #26 of 27
Great post, IHTS!

The more we take responsibility for our own learning, the more we find we can get from ANY lesson and instructor. Don't saddle the instructor with the entire responsibility for your learning--even though the best will be able to shoulder the load. If you rely entirely on the instructor, few lessons will be "great." If you take responsibility, you can get something worthwhile from nearly any instructor.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #27 of 27
C'mon, this is US - words like "personal responsibility" have long been removed from all dictionaries. Now, if I could only figure out who to sue if I get swept by avalanche, I'd be all set. J/K :
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