Instructor might quit because he still sucks at skiing.

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by VAski, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Looking for some feedback on the above title.

    This is my 4th season as an instructor at a small mid-atlantic hill. 4 years ago, I became an instructor with the idea that my skiing would improve. I have worked part-time since then for about 60 - 90 hours per season. Not much, but with a real job and family, that's about as much as I could muster.

    As with many instructors, my first season involved teaching beginners to ski in group lessons. During that season my teaching technique was refined enough to the point that I was very comfortable doing it. I learned a great deal. Because of my limited hours and time on the hill, I didn't get a chance to train that often. To compound the issue, there isn't that much training for instructors. There isn't any mid-week training and very few clinics on the weekends. Even if there is an afternoon clinic, say on Saturday, most instructors are working.

    My second season I was certified as a Level 1 skier. I basically studied and trained by myself for the Level 1. I would grab the occasional Level 2 or Level 3 skier to help the my demos. The level 1 exam wasn't difficult as most people understand. I remember thinking that some of the skiers at the exam had no business teaching anyone beyond the very beginner lessons. We had 1 instructor in the group that had only skied a black run once or twice before. I thought that was quite unbelievable. We had instructors show up to the exam that had no idea a Level 1 workbook even existed. Again, unbelievable. Everyone passed, btw. The examiner mentioned that I was a little too far back in my stance. Whether this was known or not by my local trainer, it was the first I heard of it. I was a bit angry at first, not at him, but at the trainer at my local mountain for not alerting me to this prior to the exam. It's something I probably could have fixed. He saw it in my demos and said that it was showing up in my skiing as well.

    I thought by my 3rd season I'd get my CS1. They didn't offer any classes close by last season and to add to that difficulty I tore my calf last year about mid-season, which finished me up for the year. Last season I tried to ski with the trainer more often, but probably only skied with him a couple times before my injury.

    So, this season, my fourth, I find myself still not much further than when I started several years ago. My skiing has changed, but it isn't where I want it. As I look to the Level 2 skiing requirements, I just don't think I'll have enough time or ability to get there. As an example, one requirement for level 2 is to ski bumps. My local hill doesn't have bumps. How does one train to ski bumps without any bumps...

    I think my limited schedule and the lack of training at my local hill has hampered my progress. I have more and more thoughts of not coming back next year. At this point it feels as though I'm stuck in a rut. I'm providing lessons for the resort, but I'm not getting the necessary training to improve.

    Wondering if any of you have gone through this and could possibly shed some light on how you've handled it.

    Thanks.
     
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  2. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

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    I imagine all this must be frustrating.

    I've had the opposite experience. I'm in my 3rd season as an instructor and teach at 2 mountains, one in western Mass and one in southern Vermont.

    Some bullet points

    1) In my experience early season is the time when most of my training has occurred as this is before the mountains get busy. Once Christmas arrives, all bets are off and it's all about teaching.
    2) Several instructors/supervisors have taken me under their wing and have been great mentors.
    3) I've found the overall training to be better for me in Vermont. Not to knock my western Massachusetts mountain but the training tends to be in large groups. While in Vermont my mountain has training in smaller groups so I feel I get more out of that.
    4). I've found my vermont mountain to be more efficiently run. Again, not to knock my smaller western Massachusetts mountain but here I was sorta thrown to the wolves and while I learned a lot, it's quite chaotic. In Vermont it's more structured with organized training and as far as instructing first weekend they had me shadow with another instructor all weekend. Now I'm on my own but a supervisor is never far in case I need something.

    While I will never forget my experience at my western Massachusetts mountain and I'll be forever grateful to them and my mentors there, I feel I've gotten a lot more out of the whole experience in Vermont.

    Perhaps transition to a different mountain, get a mentor or two. I think a lot of it is finding the right mountain that works for you. I'm sure you don't suck at skiing. Don't give up. Teaching isn't for everyone but I think there's a lot to be gained from it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
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  3. Nancy Hummel

    Nancy Hummel Ski more, talk less. Instructor

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    I don't know where you work or the makeup of your instructors/training staff. A couple of suggestions:

    1. Can you find a quality mentor? Lots of people have opinions and suggestions about skiing. If you can find one person to be your guide, that is helpful.
    2. If that person does not exist at your mountain, do you have the option of working elsewhere?
    3. Take advantage of other resources - Rocky Mtn PSIA -videos.
    4. Video your own skiing and work with people here to help.
    5. Can you invest in a destination trip soemwhere and invest in a couple of days of privates with the right coach to help get a plan for improvement?
    6. You are limited by time and to get from Level 1 to 2 - you need to maximize your mileage for skiing. You can work on MA and teaching off snow - by reviewing videos, coming up with progressions etc. which should increase your knowledge and may translate to your skiing.
     
  4. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    Yes to everything Nancy is saying. I had the same experience at our local bump. I went off to a bigger mountain with training etc. That said, I'm no longer actively teaching as time is an issue. I am keeping my certs up to date so that when I retire, I could do it again.
     
  5. crgildart

    crgildart Gravity Slave Skier

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    How did the other instructors train and clinic for their L2s and L3s? I find it really odd your ski school doesn't have a regular weeknight clinic session for instructor training.
     
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  6. at_nyc

    at_nyc Getting off the lift Pass Pulled

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    Those "other resources" doesn't require being an instructor. So the OP is correct to think he should quit instructing and just work on improving his own skiing.

    I think people instruct because they enjoy instructing. Many reported improvement of their own skiing but that's more a side benefit than the primary goal.

    To improve skiing, there're probably better routes to achieve that faster.
     
  7. T-Square

    T-Square Terry Moderator Instructor

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    First, I know you are motivated to teach and improve or you would not have posted this. That’s great, it’s what I look for first in an instructor. You have over 90% of the battle won.

    I had a similar experience. The nearby school where I volunteered was ok, however, did not have the upper level trainers. I passed Level I Adaptive and then went to a PSIA adaptive clinic. Learned a lot there. It hooked me on training. I attended numerous events and clinics preparing for Level II. Basically I had to seak out training on my own because of where I worked. I took the Adaptive Level II exam and passed 3/4 of it. I knew I needed more than the school I was at could offer so I changed to another school that was a bit of a hike from where I lived. It was well worth it. I found a mentor who was an adaptive examiner. He guided me and sawed off the rough edges so I finished up Level II. I owe my Level II to him.

    SInce then I’ve completed the Master Teacher certification and attended a boat load of clinics and events. I’ve also switched schools a couple of time. I’ve become a local trainer because I don’t want anyone to go through what I did at the beginning.

    As I tell my students, skiing is easy, even I can do it. So, I’ll tell you the same thing to you. Becoming a better instructor and skier is easy ... ... ... ... ...

    That said, here are my recommendations:
    • Go to PSIA clinics and get as much out if them as you can. I prefer the technical clinics like movement analysis because they teach you what you need as an instructor and tune up your skiing at the same time.
    • Take what you already know and ski with a focus. Remember, only perfect practice makes perfect. When you’re skiing, even out on a joy run, you’re practicing. So try to put good movements into your skiing each and every time you are sliding.
    • Challenge yourself when teaching. When you give a student a task to try, as they are doing it, do it yourself but raise the bar. If I have students tapping their uphill ski, I’ll be behind them skiing on one foot.
    • Work with buddies you trust and do MA’s on each other. This will improve your eye and help keep you focused. It will also help you find areas to tweak.
    • As said before, videos will help you see yourself. I always ski better in my mind than I do on video. :(
    • Is there another ski school in the area? It might be time to find a new home that has more emphasis on training and instructor development.
    As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Your mentor is out there. Just look.
     
  8. scott43

    scott43 Making fresh tracks Skier

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    From a purely selfish point of view, don't quit if you're a good instructor..we need you! :D OTOH, if it's not working for you, up to you to decide how to use your time. Best wishes either way.
     
  9. Blue Streak

    Blue Streak Behind the Epic Curtain Skier

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    Unless I missed it, I see no reference to your age.
     
  10. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Mid-40's.
     
  11. Blue Streak

    Blue Streak Behind the Epic Curtain Skier

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    Watch this.
     
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  12. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Thanks for the insight, that helps a great deal.

    I was told by the most senior instructor on our mountain that for level 2 or level 3, you're basically on your own. Sounds like you found a way to work through it.

    There is another mountain a bit further down the road. My "home" mountain is 3.5 hours away. The other one is about 4 and is smaller. It probably has a better training regiment. At least that's what I've heard.
     
  13. Blue Streak

    Blue Streak Behind the Epic Curtain Skier

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    Be patient. Don't give up.
    I grew up skiing in Virginia and understand how hard it can be to live somewhere less than ideal for pursuing your passion.

    Full Disclosure: I moved to Colorado as soon as I could ;)
     
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  14. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Friend of mine failed his first attempt. He traveled to Colorado for a week to train for several seasons after that. He passed last year. He basically did it on his own. As I mentioned earlier, not much as far as training is concerned. L2 and L3's are basically on their own.
     
  15. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

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    It all depends on the mountain from what I'm told. A friend of mine teaches at Camelback and they seem to be very organized for a smallish mountain 37 trails. They have schedules for the instructors and very organized training schedules including clinics before the work day begins.
     
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  16. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Thank you for the suggestions. Sounds like a good plan of attack.

    The mentor is a good idea. Surprisingly, we have very few at our mountain. It's just not something that has caught on.
     
  17. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Consider yourself fortunate!!!
     
  18. Blue Streak

    Blue Streak Behind the Epic Curtain Skier

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    That is certainly not the case here at Vail. I could take a clinic almost any day, except during the absolutely peak periods. We have at least four Cert 2 clinics a week. We also have a separate track for Cert 3 and Rocky Mountain Trainer.
    This is just a sample. It's the list of clinics for tomorrow.

    upload_2018-1-29_10-56-21.png

    All of the Vail Resorts offer significant training. Several of the Cert 2 trainers are present or former national team members.
    That should come as no surprise, but there are more than a few people who come out here to work for a season just for the training.
     
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  19. VAski

    VAski Booting up Skier

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    Wow! There is a ski instructor heaven...
     
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  20. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

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    I definitely do. I wish you lots of luck. I know others who haven't been as happy at teaching. I also know people who find it very fulfilling and have had their skiing taken to much higher levels. If it's not fun for you then perhaps taking a break isn't a bad idea. However, as someone said above, if you feel it's something you are good at then we need you so don't give up. I've always been told that the best way to get better at skiing is to teach someone how to do it. Do you primarily teach kids or adults. I've had the opportunity to teach both and definitely love each for different reasons. Does your mountain give you a preference? Are they strict with your hours. Perhaps you can segue to another mountain and see which works best for you. While I loved the mountain where I started, I like my vermont much better for a variety of reasons. Mentors at both mountains have made huge difference for me. I like to always think there are options. Can you talk about any of this with the director of your ski school or perhaps one of the supervisors, maybe they can help?
     

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