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Filling the empty cup

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Reading Ydnar's post 'Dazed and Confused' sparked some thoughts and questions for the ski instructors on this forum. Perhaps these questions have been addressed before, so forgive me if there is another thread on this somewhere in the archives.

I'm coming at this from some ignorance about just what qualifications are necessary to teach skiing (the cup is empty and needs filling). We often see mention of PSIA certification levels and training manuals, etc. for ski instructors. From some of the discussions here, it seems like much of the certification process is geared around making sure the instructor can actually ski and perform/explain all the various movements required for that level. My questions don't revolve around what 'technical' knowledge of skiing you instructors possess, but rather what knowledge of education you are required to possess in order to be certified? It seems most of you teach skiing on a part-time basis and have other jobs. How many of you are teachers in your other lives? Do you spend any time taking teaching or education classes at a nearby university or college? What do you feel qualifies you to teach? I'm not trying to be disrespectful here, just genuinely curious. I do software training as part of my job, and there are others here that also do training for their livelyhood. The old saw "those who can't, teach" has long been supplanted by "those who can, teach", but I suspect that too often we equate ability to perform with ability to teach when the two are not necessarily related.
post #2 of 17
Interesting thought Tag
I have wondered if I have what it takes to teach. I'm pretty sure I know the mechanics of skiing pretty well but never really have taught much. As a Technology person I have given mini seminars but never an actual teaching session. Since I just applied for a job as a PT ski instructor, I may get the chance to find out if I "got the right stuff" I'll be going in with no certs or experience other than working with friends and giving tips here and there.
post #3 of 17
... and those who can teach are the rarest finds of all!!


Damn but this kind of stuff makes me feel all warm and fuzzy but I need snow so I can ski.
post #4 of 17
I am a personal trainer in a gym and I train people all day. I am really able to take these communication skills and aplly them to my ski teaching quite easily.I really do love sharing my enthusiasm for the sport and cannot wait until the snow flies around here.
post #5 of 17

While not all members of PSIA have college educations quite a few do. PSIA doesn’t have a “minimum” education requirement for certification. They do have an age requirement.

Part of the certification process involves teaching proficiency. The applicant must be able to convey their idea verbally as well as perform the maneuver. If everything is as clear as mud, no matter how good they ski, they ain’t gonna pass. Most ski schools require the instructor to attend clinics. The larger schools have quite intense in-house programs complete with a Technical Director, as well as the Director and Assistant Director. The TD is sometimes an Examiner is PSIA, though not all are. The TD will make sure the Pro’s can turn, and teach the turn. People skills are also involved in teaching skiing. If the Pro is so involved with the technical aspects of skiing they will lose ~75% of the students. I don’t believe one must possess a sheep skin to be articulate.

At the area where I work we have had pre-season training involving training specifically oriented towards teaching. These were taught by trainers who typically train school teachers. A good Pro will attend as many training seminars as possible in as wide a range as possible.

Does this answer your post?

post #6 of 17

I come into this forum as an alternate organization instructor, PMTS. PSIA and PMTS have different a focus. PSIA, from what I have been told, has more focus on skiing. That is not to say the other elements are ignored. But there are some folks that think this focus should be shifted somewhat. You might look in on www.hyperchangecafe.com for some enlightment.

PMTS focuses on both skiing and teaching. As one moves up the accreditation ladder, the skiing gets more demanding and so does the teaching. For the Black Level (the highest of three, Green Blue and Black), the teaching test is in six parts. The major topics come under the headins of determining and fulfulling Motivation, Understanding and Movement. For intance, under fulfilling Understanding: Did the instructor facilitate an individual understanding of skiing in each student? Or, can the instructor tailor tasks and activities to meet the specific and diverse needs of each individual student?
The "students" are other candidates, so it is no easy.

As you can see, the testing is aimed at teaching. PMTS utilizes Student Directed Ski Instruction, developed by Kim Peterson. It is very similar to Guest Directed Ski Instruction, used by some PSIA schools. The whole concept, best as I can determine, was developed by Carl Rogers, a reknowned psycho-therapist and educator. He called it "client-centered therapy."
post #7 of 17
I teach math-health-computer software in a middle school environment. Education classes(yawn : )were necessary for my degree, but it wasn't until I took a teaching seminar through a PSIA-East clinic that I truly understood the different styles of teaching and of learning. When I teach, I try to determine the learning styles I am dealing with, and then I try to hit it for each of my students. It takes time and practice.
As mentioned earlier in this tread, you need to walk the walk AND talk the talk if you want to be successful. Attend as many clinics as you can to round out your abilities.(deficiencies)
post #8 of 17
10 years from now, if I ever get to be a good enough skier to teach, my strength would probably lie in the fact that skiing did NOT come naturally to me. For that reason, I may be able to explain movements in a way that people who normally wouldn't get it,would understand. I also would have some empathy with anyone experiencing fear.
Of course, being in the fitness industrysince the early 70s helps a bit.
post #9 of 17

Having conducted a number of ski school hiring clinics over the years it is interesting that there is perhaps a misconception that skiing ability is the primary consideration utilized in making hiring decisions. Far from it-while a certain basic level of skiing skills are required-there are far more important criteria;your personality, your adaptability, your openness to try new ideas, your inter personal skills, your passion for our sport and your view of what the job of ski instructor really entails weigh very heavily. A ski school can teach you to ski far better than you ever dreamed, we can guide you on what to teach and when but we cannot change the intrinsic elements that make up the soul of the candidate. The clinician's judgement and input on how you will relate to the resorts guests should be the driving factor in hiring decisions.

The fact skiing is not natural for you and your experience in the fitness industry are strong assets. Hopefully someday you'll give it a try.
post #10 of 17

There are several parts to your question so let me answer at least aspect here.

If you were to wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me what I am I'd tell you that I'm a teacher. Have been on ever since I learned as I child that I could explain how to do things in ways that other people seemed to understand. Fortunatly, I really like teaching. I actually enjoy teaching more than skiing and mind you I enjoy skiing a very great deal. I don't mind teaching a beginner on a powder day. The way I look at it is I'll have lots of powder days but that student will only ever have one first day on skis and I want to make one that they will always remember.

I have taken education classes at the local university on both a structured and a non-structured basis but it has been a few years that I haven't been keeping up on my reading so I'm not up on the newest trends in the field.

I got into teaching skiing because it offered me a chance to teach in a rather unrestricted enviroment and to share an activity I love with others. Those are the reasons I'm still here.

post #11 of 17
I taught swimming for about 5 years as a teenager, and I have been a lab TA for computer science and EE classes here at college (trust me, a LOT of teaching is necessary for assembly language). Back to the point, eh? I never had formal training in how to teach people, but I have always been able to get the instruction across fairly well. From these experiences, I would say that the most valuable asset for any teacher is the ability to learn, even more so than the students. Quite often the teacher must learn from the student (where help is needed and WHY), before being able to _effectively_ teach the material. A teacher who has his/her mind set only on introducing material will fail miserably, especially in a hands-on environment like skiing.

I think it is also important for the teacher to have a very thorough understanding of the skill being taught. If you don't know the moves inside and out (talking about skiing now), it will probably be difficult to tailor the instruction to each student. I think if I were to instruct skiing, I would have a problem with this. I can ski decently, but I believe I lack that thorough knowledge of what is happening with my body and equipment, that is necessary to teach the skill in someone else's learning style.
post #12 of 17
Iridium, welcome, that was beautifully said. Ski and Golf, thanks for your kind words!
post #13 of 17
Tag- Good question I have a couple comments. As far as PSIA requiring education requirements to become certified they do not. However at level 1/2&3 teaching is evaluated. Level 1 is a 1 day exam evaluating skiing and the ability to teach up to level 4. Level 2 has a 2 day ski test followed by a 2 day teaching test this is the same at level 3. In the teaching evaluation you are scored on you understanding of ATS concepts/ feedback and communication skills/ The ability to teach to all populations and make appropriate modifications/ and tested on your on the job experience.

I also would say that education on teaching does not make you a good teacher/coach. There are some very educated people that teach but are very poor at it as well as there are some less educated people teaching that are outstanding.

I do believe having an understanding of learning styles, personality types, presentation technique and education principles will help any educated but as I said above it is not always a direct corrolation. I think the key as in most jobs is you need to have a passion for what you do and a thirst for information and improvement along with a love of working with people and you will be a very succesful coach/teacher.

PSIA-E also offers and acredited program called the master teacher certification that is taken from various college courses to address this need for members.

Having returned from 3 days of 12 hour days review education ideas, learning pathways and personality types to see how we can improve the product we provide to members and inturn the general public we do look hard and the how to teach but remember it is not only science there is a lot of ART to it and that is hard to coach.

Just my thoughts, thanks
post #14 of 17
Iridium in a nice post wrote:

"I think it is also important for the teacher to have a very thorough understanding of the skill being taught. If you don't know the moves inside and out(talking about skiing now), it will probably be difficult to tailor the instruction to each student. I think if I were to instruct skiing, I would have a problem with this. I can ski decently, but I believe I lack that thorough knowledge of what is happening with my body and equipment, that is necessary to teach the skill in someone else's learning style."

I think there are two components here that should be separated out:

1) Being able to perform a movement analysis and understanding each component of the kinetic chain

2) Learning how to teach movements.

There is research and literature that demonstrates how instruction based on movement analysis is usually not the most effective means of teaching a movement (an explicit model of learning or teaching). There is also good research showing that the development of external cues to "implicitly" teach movements is, in general, more effective.

Thus, it is conceivable for someone to empirically learn to teach motor skills without having a full understanding of the movement analysis involved and perhaps have it work adequately in certain (perhaps even a majority of) situations. Of course the trouble here arises if the empirical approach doesn't work the instructor may be stuck.

The best case is for an insturctor is to both receive training and develop methods through experience for teaching movements effectively. The more experience they have the more options they develop with the very best teachers able to closely match their instructional approach to the individual.

On the other hand, describing a movement to a person (based on a thorough understanding) as the primary means of teaching is also not optimal in most cases. I expect that there are many instructors out there who have a very good understanding of skiing movements and believe they are teaching them effectively when they are not. Unless they are willing to try other approaches it is doubtful they will learn the ineffectiveness of their ways.

As an example I think that the basis for PMTS is just this, a method based on external cues for teaching movements. That doesn't mean there isn't room or need for a variety of cues or other approaches, only that there are efficient means for teaching movements that can be learned and used with a large majority of students.

I think that this is a very touchy subject because for each individual it raises the question of whether they are using effective teaching methods (true in any teaching situation, not just skiing). This is especially true for people who have extensive knowledge and understanding of skiing movements and feel they are experts because of this. However, expert teaching requires much more that just expert understanding of the subject being taught.
post #15 of 17
I think teaching is mostly about communication. Knowledge of skiing and the ability to perform the movements you are talking are important, but I have known some very technical people and excellent skiers who could not connect effectively with students.
A good teacher must be able to communicate and connect with students in many different ways. I am sure some of you have experienced the type of teacher that captivated you, left you wanting more, and wondering where the time went.
post #16 of 17
Si, I think I agree with you on the technical knowledge part.
I couldn't dig up the specific post it was in, but I believe Bob Barnes wrote something along these lines in a different thread:

technical knowledge is good for designing a lesson, but not good for teaching it.

or something like that. Maybe he will join in and tell us?
post #17 of 17
It is imperitive for an instructor to meet the needs of the student. We use our technical knowledge to develope a lesson plan that meets these needs.

These needs may be tchnical in nature or many times they are emotional needs (comfort, encoragement motivation ect..)

There are situation where the student needs to understand a new concept or movement this requires simple explanation or analogies. There are times when a student needs to feel something this may reqire drills, exercises, or practice.

Each lesson, each run is different. The great teachers/coaches are constantly evolving and changing with there students
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