Thanks to all for the insights. Glad it turned out this way and the zapped thread? Perhaps best left as is.
INSTRUCTORS/SKI SCHOOL OPERATORS: Let's face it guys... we teach skiing. We're not exactly holding the balance of world power in our hands. Perspective is a fine companion to discussion. Still, we ski teachers are important. A little motto I like to use sometimes to start the day at our little ski school goes like this: "We're not just teaching skiing, we're changing lives! Let's go live it up!"
I think this sums up the ski instructors role quite nicely. I would bet many skiers; teachers and riders at large alike, would agree that the thing that holds them back is fear and it's many faces. It might be fear of losing control. Fear of injury. Fear of "looking stupid". (hmmm... is this why some of you don't take lessons?) Fear of embarrassment. Fear of success. But, hey, whoa! I'm not saying everyone is insane with fear, but it cannot be denied that we all have at least a minor case of it. Very useful in defining our limits. And that is what teaching skiing is all about. Defining and then expanding personal limits. Or, in other words, changing lives! Our tools: facts, knowledge, experience, passion for the game, creativity, enthusiasm, imagination, energy. We are personal trainers, psychologists, biomechanical engineers, physicists, motivators, systems analysts, athletes, role models... all this and more rolled into one.
In the real world, these types of jobs are very highly paid, why not the ski instructors? Yeah, why not? Well, I think most ski instructors understand and accept our place in the big picture. We're up against the perception of the world at large, and that's a pretty solid foundation to chip away at. Here's what I mean:
Say the world comes to an end and the few remaining survivors are afloatin' on a boat. The boat is too full. Someone's gotta go. Then those who remain survive and go on to rebuild the world. There's drs, lwyrs, heads of state, authors, astronauts, architects, carpenters, ski instructors on the boat. Who says the ski instructor has a good chance of getting thrown overboard?
Yeah, an extreme example... but true. Our "value" to society is not as great as other occupations might bear despite our efforts to improve ourselves and our product. Perception IS reality and the world believes it can function w/o ski instructors.
Now our world is always involved in some crisis or another and some say we'll see arm-a-geddin soon... but I tend to think that we'll be OK for a while yet. So we're all here and we do the best we can. And as such, ski instructors deserve to be treated fairly.
To effect positive change in our role within our respective ski area operations we must accept our percieved reality and work within it's bounds.
If the area management is making "huge" profits from the ski schools, I say "Great!". That's why they're in business and running a ski area is TREMENDOUSLY expensive, plus, you gotta SPEND money twelve months of the year, but only MAKE the stuff for maybe 5 to 7. Gadzooks!
I've seen surveys that ask workers in various occupations what they want out of their jobs. A "top ten" list of sorts... money ranked BELOW the middle of the pack, after such things as personal satisfaction, nice environment, solid management practices, reputation, status... so we have many angles to approach the question of "fair" treatment.
So what is fair for the people who represent one of the most important marketing arms for any ski area operation?
Our governing bodies in North America (PSIA,CSIA in Canada) are doing a great job in responding to changes in skiing techniques. I have the utmost respect for my membership in the CSIA and have learned everything I know from this organization. Ask Joe Skier about our organizations, though, and you probably won't get much. I think we have to create a greater public identity through our national offices. When our customer knows more about us, and begins to develop a respect for the nobility of our profession, our hourly wage might not go up, but we'll be viewed as full time, trained professionals. That's worth something, isn't it? Yeah, status. Naturally, there will always be ski instructors like me, unshaven, self-centered, attention starved, girl watchin' ski bums. But there IS hope for the resta ya.
At the area management level, we have to impress upon our managers and boards of directors that we are an important marketing tool for the resort. Develop marketing campaigns that make the ski school a reason to come to that particular place. Emphasize quality over quantity, but maintain the almighty margins. Develop business plans both for the short and the long term. Impress upon management what a bargain a "fleet" of great ski instructors is. Pssst.. they will do great work relatively cheap if ya use your imagination a little. They are the ultimate practicioners of a "labor of love". They're not in it for the money, it's about integrity. This type of employee deserves your attention. Can't find 'em just anywhere, so you better pay a at least a little better than the transient minimum wage crowd but above all else, treat them with respect.
Ski school directors gotta make a deal that management likes. Management likes productivity and profits. Yep, some of them are "rich", but that's their choice. I wouldn't trade places with 'em.
So build a business plan that will show an increase in productivity for your department. Get your hands on the historical numbers and show 'em a plan to improve upon them. Perhaps you could convince them to consider a profit sharing agreement based on your performance?
Wooo-wee another long one, my apologies. And we haven't even talked much about the most important person involved, our students. But, I'll escape now by saying that lots of the points touched on here have been left deliberately vague with the hope of creating more conversation... I don't fully believe in the concept of right and wrong, just ideas and consequences.
Thanks. 72 out.