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A question for instructors - Page 5

post #121 of 141
This thread is very interesting and informative to me as a new instructor. This will be the start of my third season instructing and I started instructing because first, I have a passion for skiing and that passion after many years had not grown less. Second, I love to teach and have a deep need to share that passion with others. I became a PSIA member for another two reasons and they were: to learn how to be the best instructor that I could be with the proper tools and second to go to the clinics to learn all that I could. Learning is as much fun as teaching. I see the process of learning and teaching as a partnership. I also wanted to see how I would do along others that were taking the certifications. Last, I enjoy setting goals and working at attaining them.

I am in the precess of learning about PSIA and have enjoyed reading this thread. For me, PSIA is a very good organization.
post #122 of 141
Thanks EA. We're sure trying to make it better. That's why guys like Vailrider post these threads.

Good luck to you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. You've got a good teacher/skier attitude.
post #123 of 141
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by EABrown:
I became a PSIA member for another two reasons and they were: to learn how to be the best instructor that I could be with the proper tools and second to go to the clinics to learn all that I could. Learning is as much fun as teaching. I see the process of learning and teaching as a partnership.
Hey EA, thought you might like this quote. I came across it some time ago and have no idea who wrote it or where I got it. Maybe someone here can help. Here goes it.

"If you dedicate yourself to becoming a great teacher, you will probably fail, because if that's where your focus is, you will be an easy mark for the technique-mongers, who will tempt you to try every new nostrum and teaching technique in pursuit of your goal. One year you'll be all over outcomes, the next year small distributed groups (strong students mixed with weaker students), the after that experiential infinitum.

But if you dedicate yourself to becoming a great learner, your teaching will naturally become better and better and better. Good learners make good teachers. That's because they have internalized the things that people need to do in order to learn. All that they need to teach is inside them, not in some book, seminar, or new technique. Their inner compass allows them to distinguish the snake oil from the Parker Palmers, so they incorporate the best practices in the world of "action learning" rather than diluting their power with stuff and nonsense."

Although, I have to admit I’m not exactly sure what a Parker Palmer is. Anyone?

[ October 08, 2003, 08:59 PM: Message edited by: Vailrider ]
post #124 of 141
The quote sounds like it could have come from Horst Abraham or Mermer Blakeslee. Parker Palmer is the author of The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (1998).
post #125 of 141
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by nolo:
The quote sounds like it could have come from Horst Abraham or Mermer Blakeslee. Parker Palmer is the author of The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (1998).
I almost put your name behind the "anyone". I have so much to learn.
post #126 of 141
I have so much to learn.
Much better to have much to learn than to know it all.
post #127 of 141
Just by throwing out that quote, you've obviously learned tons of what you need to know. Just by reading it, I've done the same.
post #128 of 141
I am really disappointed to see how someone responds to criticism of PSIA's skiing standards by wanting to prevent foreigners coming to teach in the USA. Surely Rusty Guy's difficulty in finding a job in Australia illustrates the point perfectly? My read on that is that PSIA's low standards make an unknown instructor from the USA a gamble for the resort. I suspect Rusty Guy is an excellent skier and instructor, but his Association's reputation is letting him down.

Stopping foreigners won't improve the low pass standards for your certs. Some USA certified instructors are very good indeed, however too many flawed skiers sport PSIA cert pins.

Also, Rusty Guy you seemed angered because a larger USA resort would not hire you as an "adult instructor". Do you realise that most of the foreigners being brought over are hired to teach kids? You have just shown us why this is happening. Because you don't want to do it.

Other countries in the world have given their judgement. You need PSIA level III to join ISIA. You need the highest cert in the US to join ISIA. For all other countries, it is the cert below full cert. I say that because Canada has a 4 level system, and you need level 3 for ISIA. For the European countries and antipodean countries, it is level 2, the mid level. Railing against foreigners won't change this. Your system is not respected. This is why you have trouble finding work in the southern countries. You are competing against the Canadians, Euros and native southerners, and you are last in line.

Solution? Face the problem, address it, improve the standards being applied.
post #129 of 141
Originally posted by Newton:
I am really disappointed to see how someone responds to criticism of PSIA's skiing standards by wanting to prevent foreigners coming to teach in the USA.
Umm I think it was me (an Australia) that first mentioned this and the context was international J1 visas and not H2B visas which one must have a ISIA stamp to obtain. My way of thinking was to remove the pool of unqualified international seasonal workers (J1 visas) so as to "force" change within the resorts of nurturing local (USA) talent instead just hiring part time students. This would also have a reciprocal affect by "forcing" more internationals to actually get qualified to ISIA standard before they could work O\S on an "open" visa. There was a system in the 80s where one could get a "trainee" visa for Europe and stay only two months working Christmas so as to practise for the higher qualification that would enable full professional status. This was a stepping stone system that sorted out the individulas desire to become a ski instructor as opposed to a ski holiday student.

Too easy these days bringing in J1 students to prop up the industry failings that drag down the standards of budding ski professionals internationally.

PSIA full certs can get jobs downunder they just have to work out the hiring system or join a SS that has an exchange program.
post #130 of 141
Thread Starter 
Newton, I have to ask. If it disappoints you so much to see how someone responds to criticism, why do you criticize more? I went back through Rusty Guy’s posts and I think you are adding your own twist to his words. I don’t know who said that stopping foreigners would improve cert standards here in the US. I would have to disagree that most foreign instructors teaching in America only teach children. I know many Australian’s at my resort teaching only adults. Also, found this bylaw on the ISIA website.

§ 4
Placing of Stamps
It is the member association’s duty to only give the stamps to their highest qualified ski instructors.

And by the way, welcome to Epic.
post #131 of 141
I think there is a supply and demand thing happening here. Remember, the resort has to shell out quite a lot of money to get H2B people. They have to apply for each separate country they want to recruit from, and pay (a lot)for each one, before they can start submitting lists of names etc.
That's in addition to satisfying the labour market test (we have the same thing here, you have to prove a need to recruit overseas). Our labour market test included a clause for tourism etc where you could claim that you needed foreigners for some reason, to do with the service you were offering.

So it costs the US resorts quite a bit in money and person-time to go through this process, and understandably it's become more tortuous since the S11 disaster.

I agree about the J1 thing. It's even worse in Canada, they seem to rely on the flood of young people on those 1 year one-off working visas rather than recruiting qualified people, but you wonder about the quality issue. And I don't see many young Americans taking advantage of the reciprocal student visa to work down here. Not sure why that is. Cultural? Does the US push the concept of a "year out"? A student visa means you can come on down, and look for work in the usual way, rather than needing sponsorship.

I totally 100% agree on the unfairness thing. I might be wrong here, but my observation is most of the aussie instructors who teach overseas, do so in the US. Yet the majority of foreigners being sponsored to teach in Australia come from europe. Yet it is very hard for an aussie to work legally in europe. And there are very few USA instructors teaching here.
There was only 1 at my hill! one! He, incidentally, is the person I regularly recommend when people ask for someone.

I have had people in ski schools laughing at my defence of PSIA and mimicking various full-cert US instructors they have encountered over the years. I have no answer for that, other than to point out that people who use US teaching styles have happier customers, and more returning customers. They get results. No one argues with that, (generally!) but they still regard skiing skills as paramount.
I know from my US experience that there are heaps and heaps of superb PSIA instructors who ski like gods, but the ones that shouldn't have passed keep getting through also. and people, being people, tend to zero in on that.

Certainly at my level 1 exam, I was amazed to see that everyone passed, and shouldn't have. However, at my level 2, the standard was rigorously adhered to (except I think there was some latitude extended my way!).

Most of the big US hills seem to be recruiting foreigners to put in kids. I think that once they've done their "time" in kids, they are "elevated" to adults. Certainly as PSIA level II, when I've enquired at the hills where everyone wants to work, I'm told "kids". My first hill, I did kids all season (and loved it). So, it would appear that they are filling a need, if domestic certified instructors don't want to do kids.
post #132 of 141
Originally posted by Vailrider:
I went back through Rusty Guy’s posts and I think you are adding your own twist to his words. [/QB]
Thanks Vailrider

Ant, as usual great post!


First of all I would say I'm a very average skier and average instructor. I do possess a level III cert and am working hard to obtain my trainer accred in the Rocky Mountain Division.

Please take a moment to reread what I wrote. very sloooooowly.

I said that I made an inquiry. In fact I sent an e-mail to a resort in New Zealand and never heard back.

I also said I called a resort in Summit County and thet stated they were not hiring adult instructors. I went on to ask all to ponder why that was occuring.

Newton you are absolutely right. American ski instructors are terrible. We can barely get around on skis. Australia is far superior. Hail Oz.

Now having said that, I do think there is evidence to support the idea that you have the reading comprehension of a five year old.

[ October 13, 2003, 07:27 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #133 of 141
Newton, Oz and ant, I don't want to derail this thread, I just want to ask a question about the ISIA stamp. as you can see by the pictures below, I got my stamp 33 years ago and even though I didn't teach in Europe, when skiing a couple of weeks in Kitz I was made a temporary member of the Red Devils with all the previledges of the ski school, including cutting lines.

I wonder, do they issue new and different stamps every year, and would this stamp still be valid, even though I'll never use it again?


post #134 of 141
Very pretty, and I have no idea. CM or Oz might know. Getting one's Isia thing through the australian system has some new degrees of difficulty, I read something about having to be able to teach in 2 languages, having an avvy qualification, and a whole bunch of other hoops. None of which I have any intention of jumping through.

Rusty, the Keystone people have a close association with a couple of resorts in NZ. I can't find the person's business card (it's in a safe place, godammit) but I'll PM the name. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
post #135 of 141

If ya keen to come downunder we should start working on this for next winter. I can help you (anonymously ) with the right people to contact. If you start soon then you may be able to get Eldorado involved. Vail does exchanges with Thredbo and the last person that came out from there went home a legend


ISIA issues a yearly stamp that looks like the ISIA badge in your photo but is numbered with member number and year of issue and the imortal words "Internationaler Skilehrerverband". I reckon if you where to travel to Europe and walk up to the SS counter at any large resort, ask for the boss, show him your stamp and have a few laughs you would ski for free.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #136 of 141
Thanks, guys. At one time I contemplated to go back home to Europe and teach skiing in the winter and freelance in my profession as a photojournalist in the summer but wisely didn't.

Since my retirement from active teaching I have rarely asked for a freebee or price reduction on my ski ticket. There are a couple of ski areas in nearby states where I go for a weekend and they know me well enough from over the years so I get a reduction.

Just wanted to know the state of things... .....Ott
post #137 of 141
I actually just applied for my ISIA passport/stamp yesterday through PSIA in Englewood.

Here is the funny thing. They want a 1.5" x 1.5" passport photo. I couldn't find a place in Boulder that would do that! I ran around all afternoon trying. Apparantly standard is 2" x 2". The artists wouldn't slice and dice their handiwork.

Ant and Oz thanks for the offer of help. Thanks for the p.m. and name Ant. I will probably take you up on it. I really do think it's important for my daughter to experience different cultures and people. I never had that chance as a child.

Someone made mention of the concept of "a year abroad" for US students. I don't think American students do it as much as students from other countries.

I want to say something with all sincerity and seriousness. The kids we have had at Eldora from Oz and NZ who have taught with us have been the hardest working individuals that I have ever met. They never miss a day or a lineup and have a tremendous work ethic. I supervised two days a week last year. I always grabbed the same Kiwi snowboard instructor and deputized him to organize the snowboard side of the equation.

He taught me a new word. The first day he helped he offered to "suss (sp?) out" the snowboarders. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about, however I said sure.

What is really stupid is the fact that these students cannot come back. They come, thet learn a little something, and then they're gone.
post #138 of 141
>>>... updating your ISIA stamp. I hope you will do it, and take advantage of the discounts and other perks that credential entitles you...<<<

Thanks, Bob, for clearing up the misconceptions put forward in this thread, as usual I'm in awe of your concise explanations and your knowledge.

As I mentioned I don't ask for any discounts and perks for several reasons: when I retired form active teaching nearly 18 years ago because I couldn't commit the consistant time because of my job as a photojournalist which at that time gave me an idea of my working schedule only for one week ahead, and at that it never held true, after actively teaching for twenty five years I asked for alumnus status from the PSIA. They told me at the time that they really hadn't established such a category but as long as I paid my full dues I could still come to the workshops if I wanted to but I would no longer get the instructors discounts on the pro-forms, etc.

I did that for a couple of years but being sidelined to an observer status is just not my style so I dropped my PSIA membership, no longer wear a pin or otherwise identify myself outwardly as a certfied instructor nor to get any perks, it just wouldn't be right.

Yet once a teacher, always a teacher, and I'm so glad that this forum allows me to share some insights into skiig I've accumulated over the years. I have kept somewhat current since most of my friends are active instructors but also clamped down on some new instructors who smartly know it all and are contemptuos of the continuity of the development in the ski teaching industry.

Competence breeds arrogance? I often think so when I observe new certified instructors, but no worry, someone will bring them down to earth again.

That said, I am still a dedicated supporter and believer in PSIA, convinced that for the american skiing public it follows the right concept and always tries to improve itself. Unlike Austria for instance, where until fairly late in the last century, ski instruction was aimed at athletic teenagers, we here realized that every guest at an area is entitled to instruction and help geared to their level and fitness.

post #139 of 141
Ott--is your PSIA certification still current? If it is, you'll have no problem updating your ISIA stamp. I hope you will do it, and take advantage of the discounts and other perks that credential entitles you to. You do great honor and dignity to all of us in the ski-teaching profession, and there is no one who I'd rather have representing me as a member of PSIA in Europe!

There has been some misinformation in this thread. The ISIA stamp is essentially a credential available to the Full Certified level instructors of most skiing nations. What they call that level varies from organization to organization, and pretty much all instructor organizations offer continuing education and recognition beyond that "Full" level. Canada, as has been mentioned, has 4 levels of certification, but Level 3 is "Full." Level 4 is equivalent to what PSIA recognizes as Trainer Accredited (with various names in different divisions).

It is pointless to argue whether one country's certification standard is higher than another. The standards are different--like apples and oranges--but not necessarily higher or lower. They may emphasize different aspects of the profession--teaching skills, skiing skills, competition, back-country knowledge, resort management, and so on.

And there are the standards for passing Full Certification, the standards for maintaining active status as a Full Certified instructor, and the fact that standards and emphasis do surely drift over time. In any system, unfortunately, there are always a few who somehow slip through, inexplicably passing the exam with obviously inferior skills. Regardless of the reasons, these few do terrible damage to the reputation and perception of all the others. You'll find them in every skiing nation, though, and it is a mistake to assume that they represent "the standard."

In defense of PSIA, it is worth noting that PSIA is pretty widely recognized as the worldwide leader on the teaching, if not the skiing, side of the profession. But it's also worth considering that at least one Australian National Demo Team member failed to meet our Trainer Accreditation skiing standard in PSIA-RM last season, and I know of at least two Austrian (one also Japanese) Full-Certified instructors who failed to meet our Full Certification standard--one twice. I do not suggest that these examples prove that our standard is higher than theirs!

Isolated examples prove nothing--but they can disprove much.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #140 of 141

Originally posted by Ott Gangl:
>>>... we here realized that every guest at an area is entitled to instruction and help geared to their level and fitness.

So eloquently put. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

And I might add-geared to their desires. Not everybody wants to ski the steep and deep, bash bumps or pound gates. That's the true meaning of Guest Centered Teaching. It is still a form of recreation to the vast majority of those skiing and riding our hills and mountains. They have differing needs, wants and desires-we need to serve them all
post #141 of 141
I reckon I teach better because I'm PSIA qualified, but here I am paid less, because I'm PSIA qualified!

The standards are funny, no two ways about it. Here in Oz, to pass level 2 and 3, you do zipperline bumps; I think if you did that, rather than rounded short turns in a PSIA exam, you'd fail?
Zipperline bumps are beyond me, as my body is old and sport-damaged, so it has no relevance to me or people like me.
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