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Your first class?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I've decided to take the plunge and become a ski instructor - CSIA Level 1 course this December I hope. I love skiing, I don't seem to be too bad at it ( ), and I like teaching fun stuff.

Anyway, I want something to read while I'm recovering from having me wisdom teeth yoinked out. So instructors - what was the first lesson you conducted like? Who were you teaching? How could it have been better? Could your student(s) tell you were a rookie?
post #2 of 4
Well, I think no one's responded to this because if they are anything like me, they can't remember their first class!

I think I was nervous, but uppermost in my mind was keeping control of the group of kids. I can't remember what level they were, I do remember it wasn't a disaster, and by the end of the week I was well into the rythem and swing of taking a group. My biggest problem was timing of runs and lifts, to be back at the meeting area on time.

I was lucky to have been very well trained...this was at Mount Snow in Vermont, winter of 2000/2001. Our training was very thorough, and conducted by a very talented young fellow who is well known to Gravity Guru, who hangs out here.

We were well prepared before given classes, and our progress was monitored by the supervisors. This enhanced confidence, and we knew we had support if it was needed. I was lucky to start in a ski school like that!
post #3 of 4
Hi, Adam-
Welcome to the club! Most areas have you 'shadow' an experienced instructor your first couple of times after training. When you do go out on your own, your lesson will probably seem rehearsed and pretty much by the book. Looking back , I don't think my earlier lessons were very good because I didnt really understand what I was teaching. It takes time to become a good teacher and the best thing about it is the more you teach , the more you learn. Get as much training as you can, have fun ! Good Luck !
post #4 of 4
Welcome to EpicSki Adam, and congratulations on your decision to try teaching skiing! I hope you find it as rewarding as many of us here at EpicSki have.

As Snowdancer said, you are likely to get some amount of initial training from whatever ski school you work at, then "shadow" a few classes of experienced instructors, before you teach your first class. If you're like most people, you will learn a lot from that shadowing, and your first lessons will probably be attempts to duplicate what the old hands did.

Unfortunately, no two classes are the same--different people, different goals and capabilities and learning styles, different weather, and so on. Even that senior instructor's next class will not be the same as the one you observed! So attempting to make a carbon copy of another lesson is never really ideal, and never really "student-centered," no matter how great that model lesson was.

Still, new instructors can't be blamed for trying to copy another lesson--it's usually all they know at first! And without deeper understanding, it's usually better than trying to get too creative.

So my advice is to find the best instructor you can find to shadow. Since you are likely to model your first class after this one, pick the best model available! As your skills, your eye, your understanding, and your "bag of tricks" grow, your lessons will become more and more tailored to your specific group and students.

Keep us all posted here--this is a great place to discuss your experiences, and get more feedback and suggestions. Good luck with your new career!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--since you asked, I'll tell you about my first lesson as a full-time instructor at Breckenridge, in 1979. I had actually taught very part-time at a small ski school in Maine the previous season, but this was my first experience in the "big time." This is also an example of how imitating even a great instructor can go very wrong....

I had made it through the hiring clinic, attended several days of training, and then finally shadowed one of Breckenridge's very best instructors--I'll call him "Hans"--and he's still there! We had a very strong group, although I would have had no way to compare it at the time. And they were obviously well-taught by Hans. Plus there were two of us there to help with individual problems. So when we got to the top, for the first real run down the mountain, off the learning area, Hans decided to take the group down a somewhat more difficult route than the usual route for first-timers. Everything went fine--it was a good judgement call by a truly experienced instructor.

Next day, it was my turn--my very own, very first group of eager never-ever beginners. I taught them whatever I taught them on the learning hill, and everything seemed OK, to my inexperienced eye. After lunch, we rode up the lifts, and naturally, I imitated Hans and took them down the hard way. With a different group, less-well taught, and only me to help them--you can probably guess what happened. One after another they rocketed down out of control, gaining speed until they finally fell in spectacular crashes of snow and skis and limbs going every which way.... I was horrified, watching from above.

As I finally got the last person back on his feet, relieved that no one had actually gotten hurt, my supervisor slid out from the woods, glaring at me. He'd been watching the whole thing. "Come talk to me after this lesson," were his ominous words--I remember them well!

I probably didn't even ski that run again MYSELF for the next few months! Live and learn....

[ August 29, 2002, 08:36 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
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