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so... i have people in class who don't really want to be there...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Whether they are the reluctant teenager, spouse, "significant other", peer pressured friend, or "fear laced" curiosity seeker. What do you do to help them have fun and maybe even want to come back?

post #2 of 26

Tom, Try to find 1 thing positive about them you can focus on. Be it something in their skiing, their outfit/ gear, their background, profession etc. You  have to spend some time conversing with them, do this on a lift ride.Maybe you have to be a cheerleader for them but that's part of the job. What do they want to get out of their skiing? Are they looking to improve? If they are try to facilitate that. If they are there because of some one else , spousal/ parent / peer pressure don't push the skiing part as much. Show them the beauty of the mountains, outdoors etc.Tell them something interesting you know about your ski area or local town for tourist stuff. It is hard to work all that in especially within the confines of time of  a class or group lesson but that's why you try to find that 1 thing and work it from different angles.

post #3 of 26

Make friends with them, empathize with their situation & earn their trust. 

Find out what they would rather be doing & play off of that.

Give them some options & let them make some choices.

JF

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 

snowbowler, thanks; good stuff! sounds like an old teaching addage "they won't care how much you know till they know how much you care"

post #5 of 26

"Fear laced" curiosity seeker? I want to know more about this type! Sounds like an oxymoron. 

post #6 of 26

Tom,

 

We need to split out "don't want to be there" into different categories based on the reasons vs the situations. Fear is different than expecting a waste of time.  For a reluctant teenager expecting a waste of time, "let's go ski" can be a great lesson. For fearful people getting dragged in to lessons, we first need to make sure they are in the right level lesson. If they are in over the their head, that needs to get fixed ASAP. If they are under their head, we can teach multiple lessons and give them advanced versions of tasks to perform (e.g. backwards, one ski versions of drills, etc). One of the keys for fighting fear is establishing trust. If you set the tone up front with a professional appearance, proper body language,  and following the teaching model, then resolving fear issues is much easier. For fearful people at the right level a common theme trick to use is to make sure that the drill progressions build upon easy to do steps. There are other common "fear reducing" tricks (e.g. change the focus, provide a crutch, me too, hey - you're right). Mermer's book is also a great source for ideas. Peer pressure can work for you by pairing the students for tasks (e.g. doer -observer drills) or you may need to split them up . One final rule of thumb for difficult teaching situations and making lessons more fun is "When in doubt, move 'em out!"

post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbowler View Post

 What do they want to get out of their skiing?



Been quite a while since I've taught, but I really think that opening the class with this as a question can help you get around the issue.

 

Making them define a goal will put them on your team as partners aiming towards a goal. If you tell them what the goals are during the lesson, they can be reluctant, but if they've told you what they want to do, it's easy for you both to work together. It's an old pedagogical trick, but it really works. Defining these goals realistically right off the bat can also help people feel like they're progressing toward a goal rather than following a predefined progression.

 

post #8 of 26

I think I am the "fear laced curiosity seeker".  I learned to kayak this summer.  I took 3 days of private instruction from a fabulous instructor.   I really wanted to learn to kayak because it looked incredibly fun, I have several friends who kayak and I am tired of being the shuttle driver.  I told Denise that I was really scared about being locked into a kayak on a moving river.  She was great - she acknowledged that I was scared and that was ok, we talked about adrenaline and what it does to a person and most of all she assured me she would be right there at all times.

 

We did one pool session and then spent the next day on flat water with some very small waves.  She stayed near me at all times. At one point, she had me turn into an eddy where she knew I would flip over. I was able to get out of my boat easily.  We talked about the eddy turn afterward and she told me she wanted me to flip over because that was the "worst that could happen", it did and I did fine.  I had no idea what she was doing but she was right there in the event I needed her.  The next day we moved on to some faster moving water.  When we went throught the first rapid, she had me hang on to her boat so I could get the feel of it.  She had me follow her through the rest of the run, giving me clear directions way ahead of time.   She did not overload me with a million things and focused on just doing enough to get the feel of the water and hopefully to relax a bit.  The next day, we repeated the same run and I no longer had to hold on to her boat. In fairness, I asked her if I could hold on and she told me, "no".  She said I had the skills to do it and she would be right there but I did not need to hold onto her boat.

 

What did she do?

 

Recognized my fear, made me feel safe, kept it very simple, repeated the run on the 3rd day,  gave me reason to trust her and knew when to push me a bit.

 

She is a great instructor. She is also a ski instructor at Snowmass.

 

I think it is too easy in ski lessons to hurry - to get people on the lift, go to new terrain etc. If someone is scared, pushing them to quickly to new terrain or experiences before they are comfortable results in disaster.  Telling people that there is no reason to be afraid, (when they already are afraid) does not help.  We need to recognize they are afraid and figure out what is going to give our students confidence and desire to continue skiing.

 

Patience and empathy go a long way.

  

post #9 of 26

Excellent analysis of the situation, Skier31, but it sounds to me like challenging your fear was a strong motivation to be in the lesson--in which case you would not be a reluctant participant that the OP has trouble reaching. That was why I asked for clarification--I've always found the fearful student to be highly motivated and attentive. In fact, I even had a coach who told me it was a good idea to scare your students a little if they start acting bored. Nothing like a little fear to get students to perk up and listen.  

post #10 of 26

The different reasons that people have for not wanting to be there require different responses. As always, you need to find out why they are there and what goals they have (if any) besides immediate escape.

 

I like skier 31's story. I was a whitewater kayaker for a number of years, although I never got past intermediate status. Dropping into a class IV rapid always reminded me what fear was all about! At least with skiing, if you fall down, you slide to a stop (on most runs, anyway) and you get to keep breathing. If you flip the kayak, you keep going and you don't get to breathe until you've successfully rolled upright. If you get out of the boat and swim, you're still not going to stop. You have to drag the boat, which now weighs 400 lbs because it's full of water, and your paddle to shore in order to stop. The fear factor for kayaking is much worse than skiing, at least for me. Still, I thought it was fun and I kept doing it.

 

So...for skiing, different approaches for different reasons are required. Always remember that skiing is supposed to be fun, and it's up to you to help people reach the point where they can have fun. 

 

For the overweight woman whose spouse dragged her to the ski area, fear was a big deal, but it was partly fear that she simply wouldn't have the strength to ski. We focused on keeping the skis pretty flat and simply standing on them in such a way that gravity helped with stopping and turning, minimizing the amount of muscle required. By the end of two hours, she had a nice gliding wedge, she could steer at will and was giggling all the way down the hill. She felt in control without having to work too hard at it.

 

For the record, I was less successful with her husband, a tall, powerful man who persisted in attempting to use his great strength to force his skis to behave. He made it down the hill, too, but it took a lot more effort on his part, and it wasn't pretty.

 

Some people will be quite nervous about falling and not being able to get up. If I've got a couple like that, I might have the whole class sit down (to the side, not on the tails of their skis), take off a ski, get up, and put the ski back on again. See? Not so bad.

 

For the reluctant teenager, especially one that thinks he knows how to ski already, I've been known to move to the "fun" part almost immediately (this seems to be a testosterone issue). Also, as nolo says, sometimes you have to wake them up with something that creates just a little anxiety, and convince them that they don't know as much as they thought. This can be hard with a class. As Rusty says, you can vary the tasks to make them more difficult for particular students - but you have to be able to demonstrate that what you're asking is actually possible - and fun! You can also take such a student to a run that's on the edge of their ability (even if they think they ski it well) and turn up the volume so that they have to work a little harder. At the end, when they're sucking wind and you're not, you can point out that there are ways to ski with less effort, and those methods will give them access to more terrain.

 

In general, I have found that many people believe it takes edge and muscle to ski. Never-evers feel clumsy and intimidated. The most general thing I've found is the focus on flat ski skills and balance so they can start allowing gravity to assist and begin to enjoy the help that gravity gives them. Rather than gross movements, we work on subtlety. For their very first glide, students often have trouble sidestepping up the hill, so they've experienced the skis slipping sideways down the hill. Once they get a few steps up they hill, can they deliberately flatten their skis to let them slip? This may be less intimidating than pointing them straight down (even though "straight down" is only 2 feet of vertical and 30 feet of horizontal). They get that little slip and go, "Whoa! I caused that, but it was easy to do." Ask them how it was for them.

 

When they get the first glide to a stop, again ask. How was it? Was it scary? Was it fun? Was it hard? Did the rest of the class cheer loud enough? Do you want to try it again?

 

Keep your own sense of fun. Play. Help your students play, too, even if it's the absolute basics. Especially if it's the absolute basics.

 

Anecdote:

Years ago, I was taking a skiing clinic at Mary Jane. About 6" of somewhat heavy snow had fallen the night before, and had been pushed up into small piles that were not yet moguls. Underneath, the run was firm and groomed. I was surprised to see that a number of supposedly advanced skiers in the clinic were having trouble with the piles because their skis tended to slow down abruptly when they hit them. Attempting to adjust became a grim struggle for them, so they tried to avoid the piles entirely. Consciously sitting back a little just before hitting the pile didn't seem to work very well, but not doing anything caused wobbling and, in some cases, face plants. My philosophy? Rather than some technical, consciously planned corrective movement, I just set out to play with the piles. Aim straight at the pile with the intent of blasting it apart. Tip the skis over for a turn and target the next one. If it's denser, allow it to launch you a little. Anyway, I had fun, and according to the clinician, it looked like it worked pretty well.

 

I think the idea of simply playing caused me to do a number of things that I didn't really think about. Functional tension in the core and all of that sort of thing. Trying to think about it might have simply caused me to do it clumsily, like when I'm trying to do any other specific, unfamiliar move the clinician is demonstrating.

 

You have to guide your students about what moves to make, no doubt about it. But to overcome reluctance, you have to introduce fun.

 

Go play.

post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 

first,  thank you all for the insights; this feedback  is exactly what i was hoping for. Agreed there are as many solutions as different reluctant people. I also ask what They would like to do or what goal they have. Fear resulting in reluctance was not what i was looking for. The negative body language, verbal response, and I- don't-like-this-attitude at the beginning was more my target client. thanks again for the insights, tb

post #12 of 26


Tom, I think I misunderstood your original question.  I ask people at the beginning of the lesson something along the lines of - what one thing do you want to do that would make today fabulous?  I get more specific answers from this type of question.  I do my best to make it happen.   I have taken teenagers who don't care about techinique at all, through the small half-pipe and they feel like they are in the Olympics. I have taken timid women on a very easy blue at their pace with me shouting encouragement the whole way down and you think they would have climbed Mount Everest. 

 

Having said that, there are some people who have no desire to be there and there is nothing you can do to change that. All we can do is be enthusiastic, passionate, concerned, interested and involved. There is an obligation on the part of the student to participate as well.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tom beach View Post

first,  thank you all for the insights; this feedback  is exactly what i was hoping for. Agreed there are as many solutions as different reluctant people. I also ask what They would like to do or what goal they have. Fear resulting in reluctance was not what i was looking for. The negative body language, verbal response, and I- don't-like-this-attitude at the beginning was more my target client. thanks again for the insights, tb

post #13 of 26

There are infinite variations to this problem, but I've noticed two common threads:

  1. someone facing fear, but willing to try and learn - a scared but willing student
  2. someone being dragged into the lesson by someone else (parent or significant other) - 

I've had success with the #1 cases, but #2 can be a nightmare.

 

In a beginner group lesson, had a lady who admitted that she tried skiing before.  Hubby took her to a black diamond run, and she woke up in a hospital.  This was a group lesson, so I was very concerned about trying to deal with her, and not derail the class.  Turned out, it was one of the most rewarding lessons I've ever taught.  We took it really easy initially, but she was committed to learning, and by the end of the lesson, she was the most advanced of the group.

 

Another extreme was a teenage girl, in the same lesson with her mom.  Mom in pretty good shape, the girl not quite obese, but definitely gravitationally challenged.  The mom wanted to expose the girl to yet another athletic activity.  The girl was hell-bent on proving to mom that skiing was not her thing.  Absolute poison to the group.  What I learned from that lesson was that if at all possible, do not have these people in the same group.  I have a hunch the girl might have done much better in a class with kids her age, without mom around.  Quite possibly the most frustrating  lesson I ever had.  Next time I'm faced with such scenario,  I'll probably try to pair someone like that with anybody but mom, and try to promote some peer pressure, and teach the group in the reciprocal style.  I'm very interested in hearing suggestions for a case like this.

 

post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by incognito View Post

There are infinite variations to this problem, but I've noticed two common threads:

  1. someone facing fear, but willing to try and learn - a scared but willing student
  2. someone being dragged into the lesson by someone else (parent or significant other) - 

the second situation was more my focus, thanks, tb
 

post #15 of 26

The  teenage girl new to skiing. Tough really tough. Have no idea what is going on with them, I try to relate somehow but just can't figure it out.Well I'm a guy so that is probably it.  I've been teaching over 20 years and it still is 1) a mystery, 2) terminally frustrating with that demographic. Its one thing if you have worked up with them from age 6-8 up to the teenage years and they are skiers, but jumping right in at 12-14 never skied, not very athletic. I had one girl like this in a class with about 5-6 other skiers, very basic class, they all are skiing somewhat and she isn't sticking out more than anyone else. but she was miserable, hated everything, she looked like she wanted to jump out of her skin. Got on a lift with her trying to talk it out with her, she is at the point of tears. Found out she likes reading and books and stuff like that, just talked about that , for a lift ride or two and she mellowed out. I have a daughter who is 15 and in the last year we have been getting along alot better than when she was 12-13 or so. Next big stage is driving oh boy!

post #16 of 26

I suggest we narrow down the difficulties of teaching the reluctant student and look for ways to address them:

 

  • Not her choice to be there
  • Fearful of looking stupid
  • Fearful of getting injured
  • Self-handicapping
  • Not wearing a hat so she's freezing (self-handicapping)

 

Wait, is this student a woman? Does gender apply? Just throwing this stuff out there. 

post #17 of 26

Having been in the consulting/training world for quite a few years as well as ski instruction for 10 years, I've seen my share of reluctant and/or uncooperative participants.  Below is a list I quickly compiled showing the typical reasons for reluctant participation.   I've already incorporated several ideas suggested earlier in this thread but my list almost certainly remains incomplete so feel free to add more elements.

Note that all of the elements I've listed are centered around the reluctant individual and their peer relationships.  To be fair, the group leader's presentation skill and the quality of content have a dramatic effect on each person's willingness to attend/participate in group activities. 
 



Personal Attitude Elements
- Not interested in this topic (in its entirety)
- Not interested in a particular element of the topic (element specific)
- Not pleased with “being made to do this” by another (not their idea)
- Too tired to participate properly (may be one-off or consistent problem)
- Too distracted to participate properly (may be one-off or consistent problem)
- Feels it’s a waste of time (variety of reasons)
- Believe they know more than presenter/peers about topic (may show impatience, contempt)
- Believe their skills are better than presenter/peers (may show arrogance, one-upmanship)
- Believe the service isn't worth the time and/or money (a comparative valuation issue)
- Fear of failing the expectations of others (their lack of success may let someone else down)
- Resistance to the expectations of others (resent the expectations of others)
- Dislikes participation in the given weather/environment/culture (situation specific)
- Dislike for fellow participants (for whatever reason)
- Dislike for the group leader (for whatever reason)


Personal Perception and Interaction Elements
- Feels unprepared for topic/content (gear, athleticism, skill, knowledge)
- Feels topic/content is beyond their skills/knowledge (self-doubt issue)
- Has the expectation of holding others back (fear/guilt over potential peer reactions)
- Feels they will look silly (ungainly, uninformed, unfamiliar with topic/environment)
- Feels embarrassed at needing assistance (a pride issue)
- Feels "left out" (by peers or group leader)
- Feels abandoned (left/unwanted by those who "put them here")
- Wants to be doing something else (a preference issue)
- Needs to be doing something else (external pressing matters)
- Wants to be with someone else (preference to be with a significant other)
- Wants to be away from someone else (a preference not to be around another)
- Poor relationship/communication between group members (being left out, isolation)
- Feels 'driven away’ by peers (issues of culture, age-group, ability-level, personality)
- Perceives lack of patience/empathy for their efforts (from leader or peer group)
- Feels no purpose/aimless as a participant (no personal goals, no desired objectives)
- Feels inadequate watching others succeed while they struggle (expectations issue)

Again, feel free to add elements. 

Also, I've not provided any solutions though most issues listed (if cited accurately) suggest their own solution possibilities.

.ma

post #18 of 26

This is a great list MichaelA!  Can I use it?

Thanks,

JF

post #19 of 26

By all means, use at will! 

 

It would be great to accumulate a wider variety of 'Participation Resistance' elements for use with instructor training.  I'm sure people here have discovered many additional elements that influence our student's participation in a negative way. 

 

Recognizing the typical problem patterns makes it easier to spot warning signs quickly and to respond appropriately.  I watch also for such signs when presenting workplace professional training and have have a whole set of pre-planned (or at least, pre-considered) responses. 

 

Of course, a proper response must always deal with the specific person and the specific situation but I find it improves the quality of my response when I've already mulled over a potential problem and considered solutions before ever encountering that issue in the field.  It sure beats trying to figure out "what to do" during a training session - especially if doing so consumes time and distracts the whole session.

 

.ma

 

 

 

post #20 of 26

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post

By all means, use at will! 

  

Recognizing the typical problem patterns makes it easier to spot warning signs quickly and to respond appropriately.  I watch also for such signs when presenting workplace professional training and have have a whole set of pre-planned (or at least, pre-considered) responses. 

  

.ma


It would be interesting to see some of your "pre-considered" responses to some of the more common situations described in the list above.

Thanks,

JF
 

post #21 of 26

Whats that old Don McClain song???

OH ya " everybody loves me baby whats the matter with you?"

Sorry it just kindda popped into my head at that time!! me bad

 

MAKE IT FUN

I use to get the tough cases at a hill just outside of Toronto years ago , if they fell behind the group for any reason they would come to my group ( scared, having a hard time grasping the body movements whatever)

We always did well because I remembered they are just learning and I had no expectations of more then make sure they enjoyed themselves. Don't force anyone out of the comfort level, when you have proven you deserve their trust they will follow you because you don't take them beyond what they can do comfortably

post #22 of 26

 

 

Quote:
Don't force anyone out of the comfort level, when you have proven you deserve their trust they will follow you because you don't take them beyond what they can do comfortably

I think the key word is "force." Learning requires that I leave my comfort zone, does it not?

 

MIchaelA, I didn't see an entry for people who think they know it all. For example, my father-in-law gave me advice on childbirth. There truly are some people who apparently believe there's no subject bigger than their ability to bullshit it into submission--without the benefit of any education or experience at all!

 

Back to my little starter list: Self-handicapping was a new category for me (my daughter's a psych student) -- ever had a student show up under the influence, badly hungover, sick, listening to loud music in their earbuds, or otherwise making it hard for them to pay attention and learn anything? How about the guy on the phone doing business in class? These people are there voluntarily? 

 

Maybe that's the common thread on reluctance: when a person is not there voluntarily...

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

 

I think the key word is "force." Learning requires that I leave my comfort zone, does it not?

 

 


I suspect Old Boot is speaking of degrees of departure, and from what he wrote I get the feeling he knows just how to do it with a very productive soft touch.  Great skiing comes from, among other things, expanding comfort zones to high and broad levels.  It can be done with students barely noticing their leaving their current comfort zones, but it takes a seasoned and knowledgeable coach.  

 

Good stuff, Old Boot.  

post #24 of 26

 

Originally Posted by nolo View Post
MIchaelA, I didn't see an entry for people who think they know it all. For example, my father-in-law gave me advice on childbirth. There truly are some people who apparently believe there's no subject bigger than their ability to bullshit it into submission--without the benefit of any education or experience at all!

 

Hmmm... I'm not sure that's an element of "Reluctant Participation" since most Know-it-Alls highly favor participation - because it gives them a chance to demonstrate (or pontificate) their superior knowledge. 

 

My list tries to identify people who "don't want to be there" (at all, or perhaps in specific moments) in line with the OP's desire to find solutions for reluctant students.  Compiling a list of potential Root Causes seems the first step to finding solutions. 

 

In the original list there were two attitude elements that may cause a person to resent or reject participation:
- Believe they know more than presenter/peers about topic (may show impatience, contempt)
- Believe their skills are better than presenter/peers (may show arrogance, one-upmanship)

 

Should this list include Know-it-Alls (aside from these two items)? 

 

Just last season I had a 10 year old fellow who frequently told me I was "wrong".   He would recite what his previous instructor had told him in challenge to whatever I was saying.  This fellow was pretty sharp and had memorized previous ideas nicely ... but had entirely missed the application, purpose and context surrounding what he'd previously been told.  Still, he clearly wanted to be in class - if for no other reason than to show everyone how much he knew.   I think that differs from the 'reluctance' items mentioned. 

 

I didn't intend the two related elements listed to be interpreted as character flaws.   I was actually thinking of a person's perfectly normal reluctance to endure further regurgitation of things already well known - or to be "taught" skills they've already mastered - especially by a person perceived to be preforming below one's own standards.  To deal with either of these reluctance elements I think we need to honestly evaluate our own content/demo in comparison to the knowledge/skills of the dissatisfied/reluctant student. 

 

Sometimes it's just their personality/attitude, sometimes we're just shirking our responsibility.  Whatever the cause, once the problem is detected we can...

1) Amp-up our own delivery/performance (adjust to the more demanding requirements)

2) Change personnel around to better fit capability with expectations (swap students, or swap instructors)

3) Modify the perceptions of the person questioning content or capability (through communication)

 


Back to my little starter list: Self-handicapping was a new category for me (my daughter's a psych student) -- ever had a student show up under the influence, badly hungover, sick, listening to loud music in their earbuds, or otherwise making it hard for them to pay attention and learn anything? How about the guy on the phone doing business in class? These people are there voluntarily? 

 

Maybe that's the common thread on reluctance: when a person is not there voluntarily...

 

Sure!  By 'reluctance' I too was trying to say "Not there voluntarily".   This could mean not wanting to be there at all ("Get me out of this class!") or it could mean not wanting to participate in a specific place, context or moment.  Sometimes a student goes from wanting to participate then later wanting to drop out.  Other times they're reluctant at first, then we can't chase them away with a stick.

 

I'd listed headings for attitude and perception/interaction but I think hungover, intoxicated and sick might be a new category: Physical Condition. 

"Tired" certainly would fit there.  Perhaps "Distracted" falls under this 'condition' pattern also.

 

The fellow on a cell phone may actually want to be there - but may be 'distracted' or 'want/need' to be doing something else (in the list already).  If they prefer to be on the phone rather than in class - then one of the other attitude/perception/interaction elements is probably in play.  Same for the person listening to earbuds, texting, playing an electronic game or constantly peeling off to mess around with another participant in the class.  At that point we're back to questioning the value of the content/presentation which apparently can't hold their attention.

 

.ma

 

post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post

It would be interesting to see some of your "pre-considered" responses to some of the more common situations described in the list above.

 

 

Happy to do so - but I'd first like to accumulate more potential reasons for a student's reluctance to be in class. 

 

I'm sure lots of instructors here have their own Solutions as well.  Hard to be an instructor for more than a week without encountering a reluctant student or two.  Quite often a solution is more of a process than a specific thing to do.  The key is to pin down the gist of the solution-pattern evident across a variety of successful interventions related to a given source of reluctance.  This thread might even result in a helpful little document for PSIA circulation.

 

.ma

post #26 of 26

Keep them moving istead of talking to much and letting their minds jump to conclusions.  Ski em!

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