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Level 3 Teaching exam?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Passed my Level 3 skiing exam this week!!!!

Now move on to the teaching segment. Anyone have any recent experience with the teaching exam in Eastern Division?
I understand it is now in 4 modules. I feel I have more than enough teaching and technical knowledge to pass, but am interested in what is expected of me, and how to present the info.

post #2 of 16
Congrats Skiswift! When/where will the teaching part be?
post #3 of 16
Congratulations, skiswift! Level III is close to walking on water (which I understand the Examiners actually do
post #4 of 16
The new teaching format is easy to prepare for. There are 4 modules, and each module has 4 scores. You need to pass 10 of the 16 scores.
Two of the modules are more or less under your control: On the Job and Teaching for Transfer. For the on the Job module, you need to be able to describe your actual role at your own resort, and have some on snow excercises to support that. You should be able to talk about the ski business in general. PSIA is real concerned about retaining skiers, so explain how you help with that. For the Teaching for Transfer, you need to have a good progression, and be able to adapt it for different groups, like older skiers, kids,more aggressive skiers or timid skiers. I ignored the "transfer" part. I told them I don't do other sports and when I use metaphors from other sports it usually ends badly. I got my best scores on that module. Have a couple of progressions ready in case someone uses your best one before you get a chance to.
For the Movement Analysis module, get the pocket guide that PSIA sells (Visual Cues to Effective Skiing). When you discuss MA with the Examiner, be careful to use terminology from the Manual. Don't worry about that synchro skiing stuff, it's just a trick to get one of the candidates to ski badly enough for the Movement Analysis.
The hardest is the Creative Teaching module. The Examiner will give you a hypothetical situation to teach to. You need to be able to come up with something quickly. That was my worst module, and I think that's true for most people.
Be specific when asking questions. Don't ask "How did that feel?" The answer is always "Good." Ask "Did you feel pressure build earlier in the turn?" or whatever.
Be careful about safety, be careful where you stop the group, how you deal with traffic and be careful not to do excercises on terrain that is too steep or too firm.
Finally, download the study guide and print the section that describes the scoring. Put it in your pocket and refer to it during the modules. You are only being scored on 4 things at any time, so you should at least know what those things are.
Send me a PM if you want to get together to ski.
post #5 of 16

I'm currently in a Level 3 prep clinic. Trying to decide if I want to push on this year or wait a year. It will depend on if I can fix a few of my "issues". Sorry no hint's or tips ....

post #6 of 16
Congratulations, SkiSwift! Passing the skiing module is a worthy accomplishment (in our most recent Level 3 exam in the Rocky Mountain Division, there were only 5 out of 48 candidates who passed the full exam. We now require that you pass every single skiing maneuver, rather than averaging scores as we have in the past. That partially explains the low pass rate, but the upside is that you get to "keep" the maneuver once you've passed it, so you don't have to pass that maneuver again in your next exam. The pass rate will naturally go up in the future, as candidates focus on only those areas where they needed improvement.)

Your teaching section is quite different from ours in Rocky Mountain, so I can't give you any specific suggestions. But remember that it's ultimately just a validation of your skills at a job you do very well. Be confident, show them your stuff, and let your skills speak for themselves. You don't have try to "act" like a good instructor if you actually ARE one! And acting won't cut it at Level 3 anyway. The examiners aren't going to try to trick you, and most truly enjoy handing out pins to those who have earned them.

Since the Level 3 (Full Certification) standard requires "Creative Teaching," I suggest that you don't "overplan" your progressions and teaching presentations. You have to show them that you're teaching a PERSON, not a progression--an individual, not a prepared ("canned") lesson. As John suggests, at the very least be prepared to change course at the request of the examiner, to modify your "lesson plan" and create new ideas tailored to a unique, individual student.

Finally, avoid the common mistake of trying to do and say what you think your examiner would do and say. You'll never teach the exact same things or the same way I will, and you don't need to! Teach what YOU believe is right, and make sure you have sound reasons for all the decisions you make. Show that you are skillful in identifying the needs of your students, and creative and effective in addressing those needs. Do that, and you can't fail!

Again, our exam in Rocky Mountain is somewhat different than yours, but I believe that the criteria we're looking for are the same, and that my suggestions above are relevant to any exams anywhere.

Best of luck. Believe in yourself!

Best regards,
post #7 of 16
Bob's comments are the best advice I've ever seen for taking this exam--or any exam.

Two additions:
--When he talks of validation of the skills, make sure you've had the experience to actually have the skills to be validated.

--Realize, when you get nervous, that this really doesn't matter. If you fail it, you'll still have your job, your friends, your clients, your family, and your skills. All it means is that you didn't show that examiner that day that you had it. The examiner's job is, to the best of his or her ability, to make a judgement THAT day. That's what you are hiring us for. And we do the best we can THAT day, no matter what the reality might be. So help us find the real you.
post #8 of 16
In the RM division you can "do it" with notes taken earlier while watching an interview/video taken of four students.

Get rid of the notes and take the teaching portion without them. You wouldn't have notes at work. I think they hurt more people than they help.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all the input!
Yes, I did the exam at Sunday River, and if I never see White Heat glistening with sheets of ice again, it will be fine with me! We skied it 10-15 times in the 2 day exam.
I feel fortunate to have passed with such a low percentage pass in my group ( 2 out of 7), skiing with no heel cup in my left boot. The heel pocket had to be ground away to make room for my achilles tendon which I ruptured less than a year ago. My doc said that recovery after this surgery takes at least 2 years.
This exam was interesting in that we were required to do only 3 tasks..White Pass turns, railroad tracks and skate-to-shape-to-short.
The examiners said that they wanted the mountain to provide the testing. Doing many exercises down a steep, icy pitch certainly separated us out. Many candidates who looked great on groomed fell apart on the really gnarly terrain.
We were reminded that Level 3s in the East should be able to negotiate icy, rocky steep slopes with style and efficiency.

My feeling about the reasoning behind the decision to pound us on really difficult terrain is that, perhaps, some Level 3 candidiates had made it through on being really good at tasks, demos etc.. and were never really pushed to perform on challenging terrain.

The way it was put to me was : We are looking to pass candidates that your Ski School Director would feel comfortable giving a level 8 group to ski Upper National and Goat at 3pm on a minus 30F day.
post #10 of 16
I was one of the first to pass the new format two years ago. I wrote an article for SnowPro and posted it here two years ago.

I searched the archives and couldn't find it, so here is the article again. Enjoy.



Article for SnowPro – PSIA-E
Bob Hatcher
Level III Certified, Waterville Valley, NH

The Journey Back to Level III

It was a cold, wet, icy week in 1971 when I became certified by the relatively new Eastern Division of PSIA. With few manuals and only a few years experience teaching I decided to take the exam. At that time there was only one exam. No Levels I, II, or III. You were either “certified” or you weren’t. It was brutal and only about a third passed, somehow I was one of them.

I taught for eight more years, moving from a small mountain in suburban Boston, Blue Hills, to a major mountain in New Hampshire, Waterville Valley. I had a ball. But, by 1979 my then wife and I decided to have children. The thrill of having kids and wanting to be with them and ski with them made me decide to leave teaching and just ski. Thinking I’d never return to teaching I “retired” from it. I didn’t pay any more dues, nor did I ever attend another event.

That all changed a few years ago when my kids were all grown up and off on their own. Deciding I didn’t want to ski alone any more I decided to take the plunge back into teaching. It’s a decision I didn’t take lightly and one that I now know was the right thing to do.

I could have taken a “reinstatement” event and gotten my Level II back in a relatively short time. But, I decided that since I’d been away so long I should go through the whole process again. About the only thing I remembered from so long ago was “rotary, pressure, and edging”.

I passed the Level I exam the first year back, the Level II exam the following year, and then set my sights on Level III. That gold pin that I had worked so hard when I was 19 became my Holy Grail.

I decided that this year would be the year I went for it. I signed up for the Level III Skiing exam at Hunter in January. Arriving at Hunter on the Sunday afternoon before the exam was a scary experience. A warm spell and hard freeze had hit the region and the winds were blowing 50 mph at the top. There was scarcely any snow left on the mountain. It was bulletproof, rock hard snow. And, my 50-year old knees were aching just looking at the conditions.

Skiing with three examiners over the two-day period, the event was as tough physically as it was mentally. You would think that the Skiing portion of the exam would be the easier of the two, but it wasn’t. You’ve got to be on all day long. You can never let down. You need to pay attention to the details of what the examiner wants then execute in just the right way.

But, somehow I skied well enough to pass. I was thrilled, excited, and proud of myself. No time to rest, on to the Level III Teaching exam!

With a bit of bravado I had simultaneously applied both for the Level III Skiing exam at Hunter in January and the Level III Teaching exam at Stowe, a mere three weeks later. So, now, the pressure was on. I had been studying my progressions and books like Bob Barnes’s “Encyclopedia of Skiing” and Ellen Post Foster’s “Skiing and the Art of Carving”, but now I was committed to the exam in three weeks and I had better really start studying.

One kink in the process was that at the skiing exam I found out that for both Level II and Level III, there was a new process for the teaching exam. Rather than three days with three examiners and looking at videotaped skiers, I now had to prepare for the new four-module exam process. Each module had four parts for a total of sixteen scores. You need ten to pass the exam.

Here’s a quick look at the four modules and how I fared:

On the Job – Area and Industry Awareness – This is an entirely new concept in the exam. You need to think back into your experience and come up with a situation that was either very challenging or very rewarding. You’re then interviewed about it on the lift by the examiner then you give a 15-minute teaching segment on the topic. The idea is that you demonstrate sensitivity towards your clients, you understand your resort’s place in the ski industry, and you know how to teach your way around the situation.

My situation involved a Level 8 class I had where six of the seven students wanted to spend the whole time in the bumps and one wanted to ski no bumps. And, when I suggested she move back to a Level 7, or even Level 6 class where the group would do very few bumps I got a very stern “but I am NOT a Level 6 or 7 skier.” Knowing how to diffuse a potential customer relations disaster is a good thing for us to know.

This is one of the two segments that no one should fail. Why? Because, you can prepare for it. You need to think about this very hard and be very prepared. Anyone who’s been teaching for several years should have a lot of stories that would fit.

Creative Teaching – This is the second module that no one should fail, and for the same reason. You can prepare for it. I found this the most fun module. It’s all about “the power of the transfer,” and how to teach a lesson using analogies and metaphors. I had given this a lot of thought and did a lesson on “creating angles.” Metaphorically speaking I started the group on bar stools and finished with them leaning against a lamppost and concentrating on their zippers, parka zippers, that is! Use Guided Discovery and Problem Solving I was able to coax out of them the best body position for creating angles.

Teaching Movements and Skills – Going into the exam I had thought this module was going to be the easiest. It wasn’t. We chose a topic out of a hat and had to teach a 15-minute segment on it. The topics ranged from fairly straight forward, “explore how pressure variation affects skiing in the bumps” to the fairly esoteric, “explore pole swing variations in medium to long range turns.” This was hard and thankfully we had a great group. We brainstormed with each other on the lift and when we could to feed each other ideas. It worked well.

The last module is Movement Analysis – I think this is the toughest module and gratefully it was the last of the four. In this module you watch your group ski and standing next to the examiner you give a running commentary on what you like and don’t like about each person’s skiing. You’ve got maybe ten seconds to comment on each person. A thorough knowledge of mechanics and especially cause and effect are essential to passing this module. The fact that this was the last of the modules and we each had a chance to watch each other ski for two days was a big help. It’s still very hard, though. You may know that Joe has a tendency to use too much rotary, which results in an abstem, you may not be able to remember it in the heat of the moment.

In the end I passed. I got 15 out of a possible 16 and six ratings of “Strong.” I was happy that I had prepared well, happier that I had performed well, but happier still that it was over. It had been almost 31-yrs to the day after I passed the first time that I got the gold pin back. I’ll keep paying my dues and attending events until the day I day. I don’t want to go through that again!

Before I close, I’d like to share a little bit of what I learned in going through this two step exam process in 22 days. It may not work for you, but it worked for me.

Prepare – For the teaching exam know your stuff cold. Be able to teach your stuff in your sleep. Take a lot of notes. When you do a clinic at your home mountain write it down. Have sit-down sessions with experienced instructors and ask them “what are your favorite exercises for Z-turners.” You won’t be the only one on the lift going through your notes. This counts for the skiing exam too. Practice all those moves that your trainers tell you will be there, one footed skiing, moguls, lane changes, etc.

Be a Team – You’ll be put in a group of seven. Don’t forget you are a team. The more teamwork you do, the higher the pass rate. Feed off each other. Ask each other questions. “So, what kind of things are you working on in your skiing” is a good question to get you ready for the Movement Analysis module.

Be Creative – The more you use different teaching styles the better you will be. Learn the difference between Guided Discovery and Problem Solving. Use techniques other than call down or pair skiing. Use lots of metaphors and analogies. Even if it’s not the Creative Teaching module use them. You’ll make yourself a better teacher and give better lessons, whether it’s in an exam or at your home mountain.

And lastly, don’t be afraid. It can be scary and challenging to put yourself on the line. Putting yourself out there and risking failure is tough. But go for it! Someone much wiser than me once said “boats are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what boats are for”.

[ March 01, 2004, 01:33 PM: Message edited by: WVSkier ]
post #11 of 16
As I am preparing to take the DCL exam in a few weeks I will share with you some thoughts on how I am preparing for the teaching portion.

Just a few thoughts...

Teach the people to ski.. Don't teach skiing to people.

What I mean by that is to really try to make a difference in the other people's skiing. Coach the people, don't coach the task. Be flexible and know your stuff. If you try something and it's not working, try something else.

Offer GREAT feedback. Don't be shy to say as you introduce your topic. "Hey John, I've noticed that sometimes your inner leg gets a bit weak and an A-frame develops. We're going to work on some things that might help you." That is much better than the wishy-washy "I've noticed that some of us in the group ..." You've got to take command.

Then, coach the hell out of the people. Be very specific. And, remember, you're teaching them to ski. You're not teaching them railroad track turns, etc.

Focus on the movements each person does. Coach their movements and always bring it back to their regular skiing. Learn about cause and effect. So what, that guy's got an A-frame or an abstem, what's causing it? (Do you know what can cause an abstem?)

If there is a someone in your group with an A-frame or an abstem and in 15-minutes you can make a postive change in their skiing you will totally set yourself apart from the others in your group.

One last thought. Don't be boring and don't teach a canned progression. Try to be original. If you do the same old stuff the examiner has seen before you're toast.

What do I mean by don't be boring? Don't use call downs. Don't use line skiing. Try some pairs with guided discovery or problem solving.

I heard about a guy who, in one of his segments had each of three pairs ski a short segment. Each pair skied with one predominant skill. i.e. one used predominantly with rotary, the next pair pressure and the last pair edging. He then led a short discussion where each team had to argue that their skill was the most important skill in skiing. Now, that was original!

Have a ball and let me know if I can help.


[ March 02, 2004, 05:05 AM: Message edited by: WVSkier ]
post #12 of 16
Congratulations, skiswift! Level III is close to walking on water (which I understand the Examiners actually do
Are you kidding? Walking on water is simple. You just wait for it to freeze! We do it every time we ski!
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
WVSkier, thanks much for all the help. I intend to print it all out to help organize my thoughts. I've been teaching upper level students for some years, but, sometimes a bit of objectivity is invaluable, and knowing what it is that the examiners want is as important as having all the knowledge.
BTW, how did you handle the student you mentioned??
post #14 of 16
Originally posted by skiswift:
I appreciate all the input!
Yes, I did the exam at Sunday River...
This exam was interesting in that we were required to do only 3 tasks..White Pass turns, railroad tracks and skate-to-shape-to-short.
... Doing many exercises down a steep, icy pitch certainly separated us out.
Just out of curiousity, can I ask what you did where? Did you do just thoese three exercises and do them on White Heat? If not, what exercises did you do on steep ice and what terrain did you do the three you mention?
post #15 of 16
I took this exam at Sunday River too. Most of the excersises were done on steep blue terrain.Monday morning was one of the trails.
Whiteheat for my group was mostly free runs. The examiners gave us scenarios like if you were leading a strong 16 year old down this bump run how would you ski it? Then we were as to change the scenario to leading an older person down a bump run. We were then asked to do pivot slips in the bumps.We also did a circle ski on Whiteheat from top to bottom. No stopping at the crest of whiteheat which was boiler plate until you got to the bumps. We also did medium radius turns to show absorbtion and extension as we went across the hill.
Another task we did was big GS turns. On the first day we also went into the Nastar course.
Overall I think they wanted to see high end athletic skiing. I was exhausted by the end of the second day! But the good news is that I passed! Hope this answers some of your questions.

post #16 of 16
BTW, how did you handle the student you mentioned??
What he's asking about is how I handled a bump clinic with a person who didn't want to ski the bumps.

A lot of my bump clinics are done outside the bumps and then move into the bumps. Pivot slips, modified pivot slip with strong absorbsion and then extension, hockey stops, slideslipping in the bumps, pivot slips in the bumps...

For this lady whose knees couldn't stand the bumps, I had her doing slide slips, then pivot slips slowly in the bumps to minimize the impact on her knees.

It was only a fifteen minute session in the exam so doing 10 minutes outside the bumps to focus on strong rotary helped a lot. I got 4 for 4 with 2 "far exceeds", on this task.

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