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Class size - I was gonna post a poll but....

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
...I'll just ask the question.

Students - in what size class do you think you learn best?

Coaches - what class size do you teach most effectively?

Let's forget about cost of the lesson, or how profitable it is to the coach or the resort.

[ November 13, 2003, 05:32 PM: Message edited by: epic ]
post #2 of 21
Classes of five (advanced) or seven (intermediate) or more (beginner) are easy to teach--IF they're able to ski together. (By that, I mean that a mountain class of any number probably won't work well if the students don't have similar terrain and speed comfort. It's not very important that they be the same level, have similar technique, or share common problems to fix. The best classes are those that can ski together and have fun together; helping each individual improve their skiing is usually why they bought a lesson.)

The more advanced the skiers, the smaller the optimum number, but the class should be big enough for group dynamics and peer coaching to come into play, and to allow the use of teaching styles other than command and 'follow me'...
post #3 of 21
As a student, about 5 works best for me. Enough to share ideas, and to work on your own.
As a teacher (not skiing), I prefer teaching practical to groups of 5. I don't like doing practical teaching one on one - only theoretical stuff.
The difference is that as a consultant, I need to understand the business thinking behind why things are being done. When dealing with one person, you get a very narrow amount of information, and little insight into the impact that the decisions will have on others.
post #4 of 21
Three to five, but of course that depends to some extent on who the instructor is and what the lesson content is.
post #5 of 21
hmmmm. I had a class of 25 once. : heh.

(ok it was school vacation week and I had 13 intermediate kids and another instructor had 13 intermediate kids. one of his kids got hurt so, I rounded up the other 25 and went off to a very nice area with a double. we had a ball! I used to buddy system and they got to SKI.)

IMHO, only adults care about class size.

my 2nd opinion (and last for this post [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] ):
as an instructor it's my job to put my own needs and wants aside and deal with making the situation a "win" for the learners.

therefore, I have no real preference on class size, I have taught privates that seemed way more exhausting that that group of 25 kids.

kiersten
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by epic:
...
Students - in what size class do you think you learn best?

3-4
post #7 of 21
It's obvious that students can learn more in smaller groups. It would be wonderful from both perspectives if classes could be kept to groups no larger than 5-7, but we all know this isn't going to happen.

I have seen situations where there are several instructors not assigned to a group and an instructor gets sent out with 10 or more. It's sad but true. I do not know what instructors get at other areas, but at my area an instructor gets a flat $10 per lesson (not per student). Given the amount of money the areas take in on each lesson you would think that they could afford to have smaller groups.

An average customer pays $30-40 for a one hour ski lesson and there are 10 in that lesson. The area makes $300-400 for the lesson and only pays one instructor $10. They are making a bundle on this lesson when you multiply this by the number of groups some areas send out. The rate above generally does not cover a lift ticket or rentals if they are needed either.
post #8 of 21
I'm speaking as someone who's spent most of her short skiing life in class.

First, getting the splits right is, for me, the second-most important part about ski instruction --- right after getting a great ski instructor. I've actually been in a class of 2 that was a disaster because the other person had such different learning goals than I (in this particular case, none [img]smile.gif[/img] ).

If the splits have been done well, class size can go up to 5. I've *never* been in a lesson with more than 5 people that was worth my time and money, regardless of the teacher. I think this is partly because there starts to be too much variation in individual learning goals when there are more than 5 people.

Having said all this, my favourite size for a class is 3 well-matched students. One of the most interesting learning things I find is that while I can't see *myself* making certain types of errors, I can see where *other* students are doing the same thing that I'm doing, and then try and fix things.

Whistler has a "super group" lesson package of 3 students, that's slightly more expensive than regular group lessons. For a one-off day, I would probably go with that.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by skierteach:
It's obvious that students can learn more in smaller groups.
Actually, I don't think it is that obvious, which is why I asked the question. Some of my best lessons have been in groups of 10 plus
post #10 of 21
I think it depends on the circumstances, but generally speaking I'd say 4-6. To me, a great situation would be a group of 4-6 skiers of similar ability who take 3 or 4 hour lessons in regular intervals (say every Sat. morning), from the same qualified instructor.

Having said that, if I have something particular I want to work on, I prefer a private lesson.
post #11 of 21
about 3 works best for me...

I will take people in my lessons - up to 3 of us & I gain by the addition of 'normal' people to my lesson.... after 3 the group takes too long & gets messy trying to get them organised.....
post #12 of 21
as I read along and see that my previously posted opinion is far from that of the majority here - I feel compelled to talk about some relevancies...

- people management/class management skills
- time management skills
- biomechanics - ability to diagnose and offer exercises for improvement

if you have a great instructor - I bet you don't notice the class size.

Last year I taught at the HEAD women's clinic. Rather than a ski-off we split the groups based upon their self-evals. My group was 7 women - 1 woman was a much better skier... she should have skied with a higher group, but I worried that she'd waste a lot of time trying to find the other group - so she stayed with us. At each juncture I spoke with her privately and told her what I saw and some things to try. I'd watch her progress and also give her more feedback as we went along. The other 6 women got a traditional group class and worked on things using the buddy system (one of my favorites).

At the end of the day the woman who was a better skier thanked me. She loved the lesson.

maybe my story gives you a new perspective? if not refer to the one where I was with the 25 kids. hahahahaha

happy weekend!
kiersten
post #13 of 21
Epic,

As a coach and part time supervisor, my opinion on the "optimum size of a class" is that it depends on many different factors, including:
the teaching skills of the coach
the level of class being taught
the age distribution of the class
the relatedness of the group (keeping friends together or apart)
the personalities in the group
the equipment in the group

I personally love one on one teaching. But there are times when group dynamics make a group lesson far more effective than a private. This more frequently true for kids. Having other bodies in a lesson can help visual learners. Having other bodies in a lesson can help out of shape or self conscious folks by giving them a break and time to work things out for themselves at their own pace.

One of the things that a larger group can help a less experienced instructor do is talk less and ski more, per person.

That said, 3-5 can be a tight group. 7 is our resorts desired max when we have staff available. 10 is our desired max when we're busy. 45 is my personal record. 8-10 is the desired clinic size for PSIA clinics (i.e. advanced skiers) - which generally works very well. Although the max numbers don't directly answer your question, they do hint to the upper bound of what is definitely too much.
post #14 of 21
Impossible question for me, as a student, to answer. Depends upon the particlar group composition and dynamics. Given my druthers, I suppose, I'd prefer the smallest group possible . . . but then, in some circumstances, I might "go to school" on the successes and failures of the others.

If I were teaching, I'd prefer one-on-one - less complicated to manage, easier to focus on what that particular student needs. This preference may change after considerable experience actually teaching on-hill.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:

if you have a great instructor - I bet you don't notice the class size.

kiersten
Kiersten - I have a great instructor & (have taken) up to 50 private lessons with him in a season (>100 hours easy) ..... my feeling on 3 is based on dragging bunches of friends & people I rescue from skiing disasters into lessons with me...

If you think I kid about the great instructor bit - ask ant - she has been to one of my lessons...

[ November 15, 2003, 10:19 PM: Message edited by: disski ]
post #16 of 21
disski

if you say your instructor is great then they are serving you well!! and that's a *HUGE* part of what matters!

10 Commandments of Ski Instruction

#1. Give the learner what they want, make them happy and hungry for more.

what else?

kiersten
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
disski

if you say your instructor is great then they are serving you well!! and that's a *HUGE* part of what matters!

10 Commandments of Ski Instruction

#1. Give the learner what they want, make them happy and hungry for more.

what else?

kiersten
Most of my instructors have been great (those of any long time standing anyway) - then again I am a difficult & demanding student most of the time.... although getting easier to teach now.... (Oz & ant - you guys say nothing about that please!)
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:

#1. Give the learner what they want...
Kieli,
Not necessarily.
What they want may not be good for them, and it may be a step backward.
It is better to give them what they need, and part of the trick in delivering that is convincing them that what they need is better than what they want.

I would suggest some things such as:

Smile from the inside: Be happy to be there. Be happy to have the opportunity to pass on your experience and knowledge. (faking it doesn't work)

Encourage: Not always shouting/cheering, but on the lift, etc, commenting on the good bits of their skiing, and encouraging them away from the bad bits.

Relate: Try to understand where this person is coming from, and try to relate to that.

NVCs: Watch their non-verbals, and be careful about your own.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Wear the fox hat:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by kieli:

#1. Give the learner what they want...
Kieli,
Not necessarily.
What they want may not be good for them, and it may be a step backward.
It is better to give them what they need, and part of the trick in delivering that is convincing them that what they need is better than what they want.
</font>[/quote]WTFH... wow... you hit one of my buttons!

"convincing them that what they need is better than what they want" if you ask me for something and I tell you that what you're asking for isn't what's best for you - or what you REALLY need... what's your VERY first reaction???

Further - who PURCHASED your time? Their money puts them in the driver seat - my clients get what they want. Ostensibly...

CONTROL. It's a very interesting word. Who is in control of a lesson? Who is responsible for the learning that happens?

I do think we're talking semantics here... and since this is one of my HOT BUTTONS - I just had to comment. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

And, ultimately, as instructors, we want to make every learning experience a meaningful one - we want the learner to walk away better for having taken a lesson with us. I am merely questioning the tactics and techniques of the instructor and the AGENDA that is displayed.

kiersten
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
WTFH... wow... you hit one of my buttons!
I do my best

Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
"convincing them that what they need is better than what they want" if you ask me for something and I tell you that what you're asking for isn't what's best for you - or what you REALLY need... what's your VERY first reaction???
It's not about telling them that what they want isn't the right thing, it's getting them round to the point where they, not you, say that they no longer want it, but now want something more in line with what they need.

Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
CONTROL. It's a very interesting word. Who is in control of a lesson? Who is responsible for the learning that happens?
The client is responsible for the learning, the instructor is just an instrument to facilitate it. They are just a catalyst in the reaction. (I think we had discussions in previous years about how most people already have abilities in them to ski, it's just a matter of getting those abilities brought out.

Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
I do think we're talking semantics here...
True. But, hey, at least it's got you and me thinking (and maybe a few others)


Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
And, ultimately, as instructors, we want to make every learning experience a meaningful one - we want the learner to walk away better for having taken a lesson with us.
Very true. I posted in another thread that the ultimate goal of an instructor was to do themselves out of a job.

S
post #21 of 21
phew I am so glad we really do agree and can still be friends!!! hahaha

peace,
kiersten
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