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What are the "good lessons"

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I take that from Ott's reply in DChan's rant thread. From the instructor's standpoint, what is a "good lesson"? Judging from Ott's previous posts, I'd have to guess there is more involved than if they look like good tippers.
post #2 of 28
some days it's any lesson (better than no lesson), others it's the more athletic looking students, or no crying clinging kids, small groups, no out of shape couch potatoes, Walk up privates rather than groups are nice too.
post #3 of 28
The good lessons are those where you recognize the "light of understanding" glimmering however dimly in the face of a student. In the best lessons, that's a beacon shining.
post #4 of 28

Well said!
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yeah, but how do you know before you get them on the snow?
post #6 of 28
You cannot know if the shoe fits until you try it on.
post #7 of 28
Could it be the successful resolution to the CHALLENGE? :
post #8 of 28
PS- The tip never hurts!!!
post #9 of 28
Epic, there are different criteria in what I considered a good lesson, I'll mention some of them from my experience, factoring in that the SS director was my best friend for many years even before we became instructors.

Tipping can play a role. The director came to me one February and said that he will give me a private but it has to be on the sly.

An industrialist from Cleveland who was known as a real heavy tipper had been taking once a week lessons from Joe. The director thought that he hadn't advanced much and asked the customer who said that all he was doing with Joe were excerzises.

The director thought that I could do much better with him but he was afraid that instructors would think he yanked him from Joe so I, as his friend, could reap the dollars. So he waited until Joe was out and then told the guy to go out with me.

That man had been ready for a break through for some time but my suspicion is that Joe milked him. In two lessons the man was doing linked fall line turns. Joe hasn't talked to me since nor any more than necessary to the director.

A funny one that got me in trouble with the rest of the staff was when four gorgeous models from an agency came out to try skiing. Every male instructor in the lodge did at least one walk-by while they were getting ready, some helped them with their boots, others told them to ask for them at the desk, etc.

Then the SS director came out and said loud enough for the instructors to hear: "Ott is still finishing up a lesson but he will be in to take you out soon". The murmur and snide remarks as I came in to take them out were viceous.

What's funny about it is that those were models I had used in fashion photos (I was a photojournalist/Knight Ridder) a number of times and it was me who asked them to come out and try skiing.

Well, their legs are valuable so we did just a little sliding around and then went to the bar (sans jacket) and had a good time. I explained later to the few instructors who confronted me, but many others thought that the director gave them to me as a friendship gesture.

But what I really consider a good lesson is one where we don't stand around doing a lot of talking, but rather ski and correct.

In the 60s and early 70s there were only few full-certified/level-3 instructors and we got the advanced students, who seldom show you a gleem of satisfaction. They mostly are forever dissatisfied and grumbly because they think they should be doing better than they are.

When a skier comes and says that he can make this turn one at the time or maybe link three of them but he can't sustain the links and you get him to now be able to link them all, he bitches because he thinks he should have been able to do that all along :

But getting a kid to make the first solo run down the bunny hill without falling can also be classified as a 'good lesson', but after the fact.

post #10 of 28
My best lesson....?

Ernie Blake came to the lineup in Taos in 1977, and said, "I need an available male instructor." I related that I had been divorced for about three weeks and that I was qualified. (I had only been there about two weeks.)

He squinted in his usual fashion and said in that wonderful old world German accent of his (in full voice in front of the line-up), "Aahhh, yes. You will do fine. You see that young girl over there? I want you to ski with her for the week. AND YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO GET HER PREGNANT!"

The crowd went wild. Now that's ski teachin'!
post #11 of 28
Correct me if I'm wrong, but when Epic said "lesson" was he referring to the person taking the lesson? That's how I read it, as in a doctor saying, "When is my next appendix?" Of course, he means "patient."

Needing little to set me off on a rant, I will offer that I do not think of students as lessons. I think of them as people. The need to be acknowledged for who you are underneath the ski clothes is fundamental to that person. Without it, I seriously doubt student or teacher would gain value from the lesson experience.

If I get a tip, that's nice, but tips don't motivate me to perform. If they were, I would work in a field where such emoluments are more likely, like waitressing or lap-dancing.

What interests me about this work is that it involves optimizing a feedback loop. As with all feedback loops, garbage in-garbage out. My job is to foster the fruitful exchange of feedback between the student and me.

As one of my gurus taught me, teaching and learning is a negotiation. I will give you this if you will give me that. I will practice pivot slips if you can show me how it relates to my goal.

I mean, why does any of us learn anything? Learning is painful, tedious, and difficult. Why subject yourself to it unless it clearly moves you closer to what you desire?

What is it that the student desires -- long term -- from taking the lesson? Get him/her to take the long view and dream big: the vision is what sustains the arduous journey. Without establishing an ultimate goal that the student values highly, a learning environment has no purpose...

I apologize, as I fear I have taken this thread off on a tangent, but the premise gives me a case of prickly heat.
post #12 of 28
I understood the question from epic as,

When we as instructors are standing at lineup, and the customers are starting to line up looking for a lesson, The supervisor looks at the students or the group and makes a decision of who to give the lesson to.

At Sugarbowl most of us were assigned the day before that we would be "first up level 1" or "First up "walk up" Private". Etc..
So if you were second up, there had to be a group going out before you at your level.
Then there were floats to fill in as needed.

So in regards to epic's question and Ott's mention about ski school politics, If you were on someones "sh*t list" you would always get the classes like the screaming kids, or the family that "has to stay together" even though they can't ski anywhere near the same level. The locked in a power wedge and direct to parallel athlete in the same class. You get the idea.

Then the 4 people that obviously have skied together for years and came to take a lesson together, get given to the "favorite" instructor. The one that looks like it will result in a good tip or private by request later.

How can you tell? Sometimes you can't, Sometimes the students suprise you. As long as you keep the goal in mind and do it for the love/passion of the sport rather than the money/tips/ego, it really shouldn't make a difference but it's still nice not getting the "unrewarding" classes. It leads to a quick burnout...
post #13 of 28

I have heard this complaint a few times. The only answer is to persuade the students you enjoy to request your services in the future, thus making you unavailable for the less attractive assignments.

In other words, if you hate cold calls, build a clientele.

It takes self-confidence. That what takes time.
post #14 of 28
The best lesson is the one in front of you at the moment. It's your job to make it that way.

That's what that student pays for, and it's what she deserves.

One of our top pros, John Phillips is constantly asked for the weather report. His response is always, "Best day ever!"
post #15 of 28
I agree with Weems. " The best lesson is the one standing in front of you " I do try to go out there day after day and give my best lesson. But to go out day after day and give your best lesson sometime can be tough. It's a long season, and sometimes your just not yourself day after day. You may run into the " canned lesson ", where you start to become static in your teaching plan, not keeping it fresh and fun. Sometimes I catch myself becoming static, the same old thang days. But I do catch myself, and turn the page! Although, sometimes you go out there and give what you think is a great lesson, and the guest are thinking otherwise. It maybe that you think it's a good lesson when it could be better, but sometimes it was a great lesson and the guest does not appreciate that it was a great lesson. Sometimes the guest has bad days too!------------Wigs :
post #16 of 28
Wigs, I agree with you and weems that you give the customer the best you've got, but this question by epic is not about that.

When the secretary of a celebrity calls to make a lesson appointment, will you get it because you are up in rotation?

If this person walks up and he only speak French, who gets the lesson?

Whoever is doling out the lessons must judge who will be compatible with that customer which often means bypassing you even though you are up next.

At least I think so. ..Ott
post #17 of 28
A good lesson is someone who is out there to learn because they want to, not because someone else wants them to.

A good lesson is someone who listens and watches the demonstrations attentively and then does, or atleast tries to do what they just saw.

A good lesson is someone who doesn't think they know it all after the first lesson and returns for another lesson.

.....and there are often early signs as to what kind of lesson it is going to be.

Signs of a bad lesson about to happen.....lets just say Instructors can tell.
post #18 of 28

When the secretary of a celebrity calls to make a lesson appointment, will you get it because you are up in rotation?<<

I not sure how this works, since I NEVER get celebs! [img]tongue.gif[/img] That's not exactly true, I've had a few over the years.

But we do try to match up the guest with the best Pro for their needs we can. It's not just who's up. And as for the Frenchman, if we have someone that speaks French and the guest requests someone that speaks his language, then we will try to accommodate him.---------Wigs
post #19 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by nolobolono:

I would work in a field where such emoluments are more likely, like lap-dancing.

I apologize, as I fear I have taken this thread off on a tangent, but the premise gives me a case of prickly heat.

we wait with baited breath...and are probably prickly-hot as well...
post #20 of 28
Along the lines of the topic, some 'bad lessons' - like the kid or girl/boyfriend forced to be there - have turned out to be pretty good, since once I get going I forget whether I expect it to be good or bad and just do my best for the person at hand. I suspect they came out good as I made sure not to give them what they 'expected' (a ski SCHOOL experience). So...every lesson has potential to be 'the good' one.

I still like the ones with extremely gorgeous women who want the old fashioned ski-god experience..those are just plain fun.
post #21 of 28
Roto, you are my kind of guy... [img]smile.gif[/img] :

post #22 of 28

Bated breath.

Bate on!

post #23 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by nolobolono:

Bated breath.

Bate on!

Funny that you thought of that instead of me! Good one.

Ott, That is quite a compliment coming from a man of your caliber.
post #24 of 28
Retired world class/professional athletes. These aren't just the "good" lessons, they have the potential to be the lessons of a lifetime.

post #25 of 28
Back to the original question: What constitutes a good lesson for an instructor.


Each day I teach a class lesson, I have a technique to break the ice. The first chairlift ride up, I give my class a task - it's a question to get them talking. I have handful of them I use regularly, from "Why do you ski"? Or, "What do you really LIKE about your skiing right this minute?" One of my favorites to ask, though, is "What was your very best day skiing ever, and why?"

A few weeks ago, I was skiing with a great group of Level 8's (darn good skiers). It was my second day with a few of them, and I asked them that last question. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WHO HAD SKIED WITH ME THE DAY BEFORE SAID THAT YESTERDAY (THE DAY WITH ME) WAS THEIR BEST DAY EVER. Anything special I did? Yeah - we had a GREAT time. Got better, had fun, laughed a lot. Now THAT is a good lesson. For them, and for me!
post #26 of 28
Having been in exactly 5 "lessons/clinics in my ski life, and NOT an instructor, I will relate the comment spoken by our Pro during an afternoon "bump clinic" last Tuesday.
"Let's see, five good skiers who aren't opposed to go anywere on the mountain in search of getting better. This is looking pretty good!"

post #27 of 28
we wait with baited breath...and are probably prickly-hot as well...
I've often wondered what "baited" breath smells like...

From American Heritage Dictionary:
USAGE NOTE The word baited is sometimes incorrectly substituted for the etymologically correct but unfamiliar word bated (“abated; suspended”) in the expression bated breath.
post #28 of 28
My "best lessons" have always been the ones that have left the guest very satisfied (as measured by special comments made to the SS Director, follow-up special requests from same guest or friends of, and/or big tip).

Some of these "good lessons" seem to pay dividends forever. I once had a young woman, whom I did not know, walk up to me in a coffe shop and thank me for teaching her to ski (when she was 6 years old).
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