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My first teaching day

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

 

Hey guys, 

 

Just wanted to post a "my first lesson" report.

 

I admit it: I've never taught a ski lesson before. I spent four years doing corporate training, and already have my CSIA level 2 and CASI level 1. But I've never taught a ski class! Until today. Here's how it went: 

 

My class was a group of six never-ever family members. Our lesson went from about 10:30-3:00PM (including lunch). I helped them through boot fitting all the way to turning down the bunny hill. They were quite nice and upbeat through the whole time. 

 

Some ski-related things I learned: 

 

Learners can get bored with repetition before they've owned an exercise. Specifically we were doing braking wedges (which I don't like from a skills perspective due to this "brushing out" action--but the exercise still gives positive indicators in stance and balance). I'm still not really sure how to handle this "boredom in repetition" issue. Beyond explaining how this is helping their development... if the learners want more instant gratification... maybe I can give them a challenge on it, like "your challenge is to drag your poles without twisting your shoulders while wedging", that may hold the interest a tiny bit longer. And I suppose if they're safely able to progress to a slightly steeper pitch, even if their skills haven't developed as much as you (the instructor) would like, then so be it... 

 

Try not to forget any steps in the teaching progression. I forgot sliding down on one ski and braking on it. I think that would have improved their ability to make a braking wedge. Or at least to engage the edge. (Though there are other edge engagement things we worked on... but next time I'll catch this.)

 

Giving a good guest experience, like establishing some kind of connection, helping them figure out their vacation plans, giving them info on the mountains, taking pictures for them, giving gear suggestions, etc., goes a long way, I think, to the guests' enjoyment of their day. 

 

 

Some Whistler-y things I learned:

The Steeps at Whistler serves a good lunch. But be prepared to lose a lot of time to it. 

 

Americans seem to be generous at tipping! Good for them--I tip in lessons, but I noticed a lot of other Canadians don't. This family also paid for my lunch. They were really wonderful. 

 

And some other stuff:

It seems hard for learners to get into and maintain an athletic stance. Particularly girls. (cue the "you should have done xyz" comments) Our memories are always biased, but I remember my early lesson groups having an easier time flexing and extending. I'm having a hard time verbally putting people into the right position ("flex more in your ankle. ok, now more in your knee. Less in your hip. more in your knee now. oops, now there's not enough in your hip. ...") I just want to bend them into the right position... I dunno. 

 

The learners really wanted to do more than we could accomplish in our session... lots of questions about when they'd be ready to ski greens all over the mountain (not til day 3 probably). Next time I may ask about what they want to accomplish. On the other hand, when you're asking never-evers what they want to accomplish, you may end up more likely just resetting their hopes ("I want to ski the double-blacks/do a race course/go to the terrain park/etc") rather than finding out something achievable that they want to do (eg they don't know that they want to work on balancing over the outside ski, or improve their short radius turn, or manage speed, etc). Gotta think about this one a bit more. 

 

 

 

Anyway, I'd call it a mixed success. The family was happy at the end of the day with tons of smiles all around; we were able to end on a really high note by skiing all the way down the hill doing somewhat linked wedge turns. So from their perspective it was great (aside from not being able to handle all the other green terrain--which was not the most realistic of expectations in a mixed group). 

 

From my perspective, I really wanted to get them making solid wedge turns by the end of the day, with a stable upper body, decent balance over the outside ski, and no rotation, so I felt a bit deflated that there was some funky pole balancing action and rotation happening. I mean, I had all my "trainees" in my level 1+2 courses making wedge turns by the end of our 15 minute lessons biggrin.gif (they were other level 1+2 participants... ha ha) Though relatively speaking, my group was at the average compared to the other on-hill beginner groups. 

 

So day 1 was a qualified success; hopefully it just keeps getting better. 

post #2 of 8

Congrats Metaphor!

 

It gets easier and you will learn much over the season to improve your students' experience!  Pretty great feeling helping people discover your love for skiing though isn't it?!

post #3 of 8

Congrats!  If everyone was happy, you must have been doing it right.  smile.gif

 

Quote:
I admit it: I've never taught a ski lesson before. I spent four years doing corporate training, and already have my CSIA level 2 and CASI level 1. But I've never taught a ski class!

 

I know the CSIA levels are somewhat different, but... is it typical to get two levels of certification without ever teaching a lesson?  In PSIA there are requirements to have a certain number of practical hours of teaching, at least to get your initial level 1 cert.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the encouragement guys :)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post
I know the CSIA levels are somewhat different, but... is it typical to get two levels of certification without ever teaching a lesson?  In PSIA there are requirements to have a certain number of practical hours of teaching, at least to get your initial level 1 cert.


Typical? No, but also not highly unusual. I've met a couple of other ski pros on their first season teaching who also have their level 2. In CSIA, you don't need a certain number of hours; you need to pass the ski and teach portions of the course. If I hadn't been a corporate trainer, and been in 60+ lessons seeing and hearing about other people's issues, I wouldn't have had the communication skills or eye to pass, I imagine. So why not just start to teach with a level 1 instead? Well, in Canada, most resorts want you to have either a level 2, or a level 1 with extensive real world ski instruction. I also only wanted to teach adults, and you generally need a level 2 at a minimum to do so.

 

Technically it's possible to pass the 3 or even 4 without ever teaching, but I can't imagine anyone would have developed the eye or appropriate teaching methodology to pass the teach portion. I don't know if it's ever been done. I do know some skiers who have taken the 3 and passed the ski, but failed the teach portion. (Though I know significantly more who have passed the teach but failed the ski portion.) Passing the level 4 is a multi-year (multi-decade?) endeavor from the time you get your level 3. A tiny fraction of instructors ever reach level 4.

post #5 of 8

 

Congratulations! Welcome to the insanity.

 

 As far as "boredom in repetition" is concerned, the more you teach the more your bag of tricks will allow you to vary what people are doing to avoid boredom and the more you will recognize when people are "good enough" to move on.  

 

Always remember the goal is to teach people how to SKI, not to perfect an exercise.

post #6 of 8

Great insights Metaphor! 

 

Now that you are seeing the reality compared to the exam & your preparation experiences, you will learn to balance your expectations with those of your students.  I have had students that where so good that I thought they were shills.  They asked all the right questions, & made every adaption I asked of them.  Others will make you take a slower pace, & require you to up your game to get positive results.  Even the smallest successes require celebration & encouragement in these cases. 

 

Remember, great teachers make great students.

 

Good luck!

JF

post #7 of 8

Metaphor...

 

You sound like the dream course candidate... very analytical and in your first lesson, subscribing to every detail of "CSIA teaching methodology". The reality in the course situation is that it is only possible for the course conductor to pass on some generic skiing skills and general teaching methodology... the rest boils down to your experience, your own attitude, and tricks of the trade that you learn from other instructors.

 

These days it is typical to get level 2+ certification without ever teaching...  due to the rise in "Gap Year Courses"

 

But... Experience still rules over technical knowledge!

post #8 of 8

PS... sounds like your first lesson was a great success!

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