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LiquidFeet

lurking
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.... I’ve been skiing 30+ days/yr for the last 6 years and have taken 6 days of top level lessons (Aspen Highlands and Taos) in the last two years. .....I’m confidently lapping doublesas long as the snow is soft. ....Yeah the wedge seemed to be the comment I got at the end. ....I went because they said I'd probably pass and they encouraged us to go for it. .....If I went through the whole pod training and another exam, that's 9 days of my time which is 100% not worth it to me. Teaching the kids to ski is fun, the PSIA stuff is the opposite of fun.
First of all, I'm glad you are having fun teaching kids. That's a good start to bonding with ski school work. But there's a lot of other stuff in your posts. I want to understand.

Here's what I think happened. Let me know if I'm reading you right.

You went for a 3-day training/exam event. Day 1 was training, day 2 was skiing, and day 3 was teaching, or something like that. So you got a one day bit of "training" before taking the 2 day exam.

You went for the exam because you were encouraged to go by ski school management. They said you would probably pass.

You thought your skiing would be the major determining factor for the exam, and that it would definitely be a pass because you've been skiing 30 days each of the last 6 seasons, and you've taken some advanced skier lessons. Plus, you ski double blacks.

I think there was "pod training" available, but it would have stretched out over 6 days and so you skipped it given your confidence that you would pass given your level of skiing.

Now you think your performance was unfairly scored since you failed.

You did not realize that the exam is well thought-out by excellent skiers with more skill than you who also happen to be very experienced in teaching. PSIA as an organization has worked for decades to organize advice on how to teach and ski in a way that would help a lower level skier improve. PSIA expects its instructors to take advantage of the resources PSIA has provided. Those resources, including exam training, convey communicate this worthwhile information to certification candidates. PSIA's website makes available videos of all the kinds of turns you would have been scored on, which I think you did not look at.

@OnTheEdgeNotTheWedge, because of your self-confidence, you went unprepared. It is somewhat difficult to fail the Level I exam. Think about this: 85% of Level II and Level III candidates tend to fail, but the numbers are flipped for Level I. All you would have needed to do was take the Pod, and take a look at the written resources and videos provided by PSIA-- and work on remembering them. If you go for Level I again, do those things and definitely work with a trainer at your mountain on your wedge turns. You'll be using them in every lesson, so they need to be close to the ideal described by PSIA because they will be watched closely by your students. Wedge turns in an exam are quite revealing of many things going on with an instructor. Screwing them up reveals that the candidate hasn't studied properly before showing up. Everyone needs to get wedge turns close to the ideal, or at least not exhibiting the big no-nos, before taking any cert exam.
 
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markojp

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Never been a ski instructor, or attempted a ski instructor test, but listening to you and others in the past, it sounds like you failed the "stupid human tricks" (puts on flame suit :ogbiggrin::duck:) part of the skiing test.

Yeah, no. There are no stupid pet tricks in L1. If i recall you haven't taught or been part of the exam process in the US or Canada.
 
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whumber

Putting on skis
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Killington, VT
Think about this: 85% of Level II and Level III candidates tend to fail, but the numbers are flipped for Level I.
The Level I process has changed a bit in the past year or so, not sure the timeline of how it's rolled out to every division. It's not quite as straightforward to pass now as it was in the past as too many candidates were showing up with zero teaching experience and still passing, at least that's what I've been told by a few eastern examiners.
 

markojp

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First of all, I'm glad you are having fun teaching kids. That's a good start to bonding with ski school work. But there's a lot of other stuff in your posts. I want to understand.

Here's what I think happened. Let me know if I'm reading you right.

You went for a 3-day training/exam event. Day 1 was training, day 2 was skiing, and day 3 was teaching, or something like that. So you got a one day bit of "training" before taking the 2 day exam.

You went for the exam because you were encouraged to go by ski school management. They said you would probably pass.

You thought your skiing would be the major determining factor for the exam, and that it would definitely be a pass because you've been skiing 30 days each of the last 6 seasons, and you've taken some advanced skier lessons. Plus, you ski double blacks.

I think there was "pod training" available, but it would have stretched out over 6 days and so you skipped it given your confidence that you would pass given your level of skiing.

Now you think your performance was unfairly scored since you failed.

You did not realize that the exam is well thought-out by excellent skiers with more skill than you who also happen to be very experienced in teaching. PSIA as an organization has worked for decades to organize advice on how to teach and ski in a way that would help a lower level skier improve. PSIA expects its instructors to take advantage of the resources PSIA has provided. Those resources, including exam training, convey communicate this worthwhile information to certification candidates. PSIA's website makes available videos of all the kinds of turns you would have been scored on, which I think you did not look at.

@OnTheEdgeNotTheWedge, because of your self-confidence, you went unprepared. It is somewhat difficult to fail the Level I exam. Think about this: 85% of Level II and Level III candidates tend to fail, but the numbers are flipped for Level I. All you would have needed to do was take the Pod, and take a look at the written resources and videos provided by PSIA-- and work on remembering them. If you go for Level I again, do those things and definitely work with a trainer at your mountain on your wedge turns. You'll be using them in every lesson, so they need to be close to the ideal described by PSIA because they will be watched closely by your students. Wedge turns in an exam are quite revealing of many things going on with an instructor. Screwing them up reveals that the candidate hasn't studied properly before showing up. Everyone needs to get wedge turns close to the ideal, or at least not exhibiting the big no-nos, before taking any cert exam.

Great post, LF! We had 6 new ski instructors and 4 snowboarders on staff who started last season and got their L1 in March. Yep, they trained, and we do the L1 exam in house. A couple of skiers were decently competent skiers who could ski most terrain, but they've really embrassed what we're trying to do and have made huge strides in both their skiing and understanding. They're been absolutely floored about how much more effectively and efficiently they're moving down the hill. One we've encouraged to put L2 on his to do list.

When we hire staff, we're looking for smart (people skills), hungry (they want to get better and hone their craft), and humble. Humble is the one that can be a stumbling block, but it's essential to learning and being coachable. If someone isnt coachable, it's unlikely they'll become a good instructor. Humble can take a bit of work.
 

OnTheEdgeNotTheWedge

Booting up
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Colorado
First of all, I'm glad you are having fun teaching kids. That's a good start to bonding with ski school work. But there's a lot of other stuff in your posts. I want to understand.

Here's what I think happened. Let me know if I'm reading you right.

You went for a 3-day training/exam event. Day 1 was training, day 2 was skiing, and day 3 was teaching, or something like that. So you got a one day bit of "training" before taking the 2 day exam.

You went for the exam because you were encouraged to go by ski school management. They said you would probably pass.

You thought your skiing would be the major determining factor for the exam, and that it would definitely be a pass because you've been skiing 30 days each of the last 6 seasons, and you've taken some advanced skier lessons. Plus, you ski double blacks.

I think there was "pod training" available, but it would have stretched out over 6 days and so you skipped it given your confidence that you would pass given your level of skiing.

Now you think your performance was unfairly scored since you failed.

You did not realize that the exam is well thought-out by excellent skiers with more skill than you who also happen to be very experienced in teaching. PSIA as an organization has worked for decades to organize advice on how to teach and ski in a way that would help a lower level skier improve. PSIA expects its instructors to take advantage of the resources PSIA has provided. Those resources, including exam training, convey communicate this worthwhile information to certification candidates. PSIA's website makes available videos of all the kinds of turns you would have been scored on, which I think you did not look at.

@OnTheEdgeNotTheWedge, because of your self-confidence, you went unprepared. It is somewhat difficult to fail the Level I exam. Think about this: 85% of Level II and Level III candidates tend to fail, but the numbers are flipped for Level I. All you would have needed to do was take the Pod, and take a look at the written resources and videos provided by PSIA-- and work on remembering them. If you go for Level I again, do those things and definitely work with a trainer at your mountain on your wedge turns. You'll be using them in every lesson, so they need to be close to the ideal described by PSIA because they will be watched closely by your students. Wedge turns in an exam are quite revealing of many things going on with an instructor. Screwing them up reveals that the candidate hasn't studied properly before showing up. Everyone needs to get wedge turns close to the ideal, or at least not exhibiting the big no-nos, before taking any cert exam.

Nope. Training pods were full so it wasn’t an option. I did all the recommended material on their website. Practiced wedge and transitional skiing quite a bit since I got a minor injury in early December so it was a good way to take it easy on greens and blues until I felt healed.

Getting the flu the week before sucked and unfortunately it was too late to cancel. That said I didn’t expect to pass MA but I did expect to pass ski and teach. What I hadn’t really considered was how much it just sucks standing around in the cold for 3 days and how subjective the scoring would turn out to be.

Drink whatever kool-aid you like but I can’t get into the PSIA worship the way some people are into it. The way some people talk about it in the locker room, it felt like leveling up in Scientology.
 
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OnTheEdgeNotTheWedge

Booting up
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Rocky Mountain division stretches the L1 out to 3 days. And yes when I looked at my scores, I got some 4s on the more objective items that are clearly described but on the more subjective line items, I got a lot of 2s. In a 12-15 minute mock lesson, I’m not sure how one engages w student emotions. Maybe I’m a shitty actor.
Also I got 2s in “risk management” for not sending my “students” across the hill for J turns while 50 people came through and then being criticized for exactly that so it was lose-lose for me. Lost points for actually being safe in real life and lost points for not following the progression script because it wasn’t safe to do so.

Sorry I’m not going to ski my students into getting clobbered in real life just to check a box for PSIA.
 
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LiquidFeet

lurking
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Also I got 2s in “risk management” for not sending my “students” across the hill for J turns while 50 people came through and then being criticized for exactly that so it was lose-lose for me. Lost points for actually being safe in real life and lost points for not following the progression script because it wasn’t safe to do so.
Being frustrated by what you've just described is justified. I gave up on any across-the-slope teaching when slopes were crowded. Safety comes first.

However, your general attitude as expressed in your posts throws up all kinds of red flags. I suspect you are not aware of this. If you can, consider what I'm going to say as constructive criticism that is meant to help you figure out how to navigate being a ski instructor.

@markojp just said upthread that he hires new instructors that are "hungry (they want to get better and hone their craft), and humble. Humble is the one that can be a stumbling block, but it's essential to learning and being coachable." You sound like you are not eager to get better, either at skiing or at teaching. You may be, but you sound like you aren't. You also sound like your self-confidence makes you unwilling to listen to well-meant criticism, thus you sound not coachable. To be coachable, which is a normal requirement for fitting into work at a ski school (so you don't generate complaints to the management), you need to be able to take criticism well. In other words, you need to be a "good sport" when things don't go your way, not an angry player who leaves the game saying you'll never do that again with those people. And all this despite your independent evaluation that they don't know what they are talking about and are unfair. All this despite the sting you'll feel.

I hope you can do that.
 
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markojp

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The Level I process has changed a bit in the past year or so, not sure the timeline of how it's rolled out to every division. It's not quite as straightforward to pass now as it was in the past as too many candidates were showing up with zero teaching experience and still passing, at least that's what I've been told by a few eastern examiners.

In the past, there was no teaching component in the L1 exam. There is now.
 

markojp

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Nope. Training pods were full so it wasn’t an option. I did all the recommended material on their website. Practiced wedge and transitional skiing quite a bit since I got a minor injury in early December so it was a good way to take it easy on greens and blues until I felt healed.

Getting the flu the week before sucked and unfortunately it was too late to cancel. That said I didn’t expect to pass MA but I did expect to pass ski and teach. What I hadn’t really considered was how much it just sucks standing around in the cold for 3 days and how subjective the scoring would turn out to be.

Drink whatever kool-aid you like but I can’t get into the PSIA worship the way some people are into it. The way some people talk about it in the locker room, it felt like leveling up in Scientology.

FWIW, I've failed exams. It hurt. I rhought i was prepared. My SSD at the time was surprised. I thought it might because i was 'too old', and was on a 'shorter leash' 2 candidates passed that i just didn’t understand (at the time) how they did and I didn’t. I'm not a koolaide drinking worshiper by any means, but see the PSIA experience as a small part of a lifetime of skiing. Each step of the cert process and divisional staff tryouts, in reflection and after the fact, has been a learning process. It's certainly not for everyone

I can say, exams are failed for pretty clear reasons. Sounds like people skills and class management need work. The latter might have been as simple as saying,"look up the hill to find a safe time to start before you go." The former is pretty simple. Its being evaluated throughout the day, including how one nteracts with other candidates. Were you (third person) supportive? Confrontational? Just 'going through the motions' figuring L1 was an easy pass? Not saying this was you at all, but ive seen some pretty poor behavior by candidates during exams I've been in that would now be hard fails largely having to do with a zero sum gain attitude. Only divisional staff tryouts are competitive. If all the candidates in an exam pod meets standards, everyone gets their pin. When i passed L3, 2 of 7 passed skiing, and 3 of 6 passed teaching. Both were pretty high pass rates. All who passed had failed their L3 at least once. And the membership card and pins don't change physics, nor do they affect the fun i have on snow. I will say though, that without certification and all the friends made in the process, i wouldn't have my current job.
 
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whumber

Putting on skis
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In the past, there was no teaching component in the L1 exam. There is now.
I don't know how it was done in other divisions, but in Eastern there was generally a teaching segment on the 2nd day although the L1 exam format was somewhat freeform so it would vary a bit depending on the examiner. You're certainly correct though that there is now a formalized teaching component that wasn't there before.
 

Rod9301

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Skill Level 4: "...you should be nearly parallel on green runs and perhaps even a few easy blue runs."
Well--good enough to teach first time children. Barely.

Teaching adults their first and second days on snow doesn't take much more in skiing skill. Teaching skill is probably more important, and that can be taught quickly in clinics. A few essential things like selecting & buckling rental boots (the rent shop guys have a different agenda; get the crowd out the door), wedge stops & turns, chair lifts, etc., don't need a high level instructor. These skills do take a suitably trained instructor.
This is so wrong, teaching beginners will take a lot is skill not to teach them stuff that has to be unlearned later.

the state of the ski instructions in the states is a disgrace.
 

crosscountry

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This is so wrong, teaching beginners will take a lot is skill not to teach them stuff that has to be unlearned later.

the state of the ski instructions in the states is a disgrace.
While I agree the state of ski instruction in the US is a disgrace. But rookie instructors have to start somewhere. What level do you suggest they start at? Teaching parallel skiing on the blue?
 

whumber

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This is so wrong, teaching beginners will take a lot is skill not to teach them stuff that has to be unlearned later.

the state of the ski instructions in the states is a disgrace.
What many areas do is to send the learn to ski lessons out with less experienced instructors initially, but also send out more experienced instructors to pick up the weaker students. This way you have the less experienced instructors giving the students who pick things up quickly some mileage while the more experienced ones can focus on those that need more focused attention. I would agree with the other poster though that for beginners teaching skill is more important than skiing skill. We have a few instructors here at K-mart who are very good at giving beginners a solid foundation but I would not want to send them out with a intermediate or higher lessons due to issues in their personal skiing.
 

Chris V.

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I'm not clear if by ALP1 exam you mean a PSIA exam, or some other nationality, so I may not know everything involved. But you say that you recognized that MA was your weakest area, so that would be a good thing to focus on. It's a part of the exam that ought to be objective, although there are many different ways of organizing an MA narrative, and you have to cater to the style that the examiners in your organization want. It's been my own experience that many candidates don't have a strong grounding in MA, that the formal training on the topic can be superficial, and that many would benefit from a lot more practice.

What I would consider the very best advice would be to recruit a friend, maybe someone a little more experienced, ski together, and spend a lot of time doing MA on other skiers you see, of all skill levels, while you're riding chairs and on the slopes. It's the mutual discussion that will build your skills. At it's core, MA is about developing a deep understanding of the biomechanics of skiing. It will help you in examining your own skiing, as well. It's about recognizing cause and effect, and drilling down to a deep level of detail in identifying cause. MA is not a one and done. It's something you'll do every minute of every lesson with every student. You do your initial MA, and formulate a lesson progression designed to change some part of the student's movement pattern. As you start working through the progression, you need to be able to see if the current drill or focus is having the desired effect, and possibly make adjustments to the progression on the fly.

Some of the fundamental elements of balance and of muscle engagement in a skier may not be easily observed in a direct way. You'll need to learn to recognize what's happening with some of these fundamental elements through the observable effects, primarily ski performance. Some of the most important aspects of MA of an individual skier may turn out to be not gross motor movement patterns, but subtle, brief interruptions of muscular tension at some point in the turn cycle. It takes very little to destroy the balance that a good skier needs. Overall, you're looking for movements, not positions. So for example, just saying that a skier is back is an incomplete description.
 
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Rod9301

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While I agree the state of ski instruction in the US is a disgrace. But rookie instructors have to start somewhere. What level do you suggest they start at? Teaching parallel skiing on the blue?
Like on Europe, they learn how to do on their own, then pass the Euro test, and start teaching, and earn a living wage immediately
 

LiquidFeet

lurking
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I'm not clear if by ALP1 exam you mean a PSIA exam, or some other nationality, so I may not know everything involved. But you say that you recognized that MA was your weakest area, so that would be a good thing to focus on. It's a part of the exam that ought to be objective, although there are many different ways of organizing an MA narrative, and you have to cater to the style that the examiners in your organization want. It's been my own experience that many candidates don't have a strong grounding in MA, that the formal training on the topic can be superficial, and that many would benefit from a lot more practice.

What I would consider the very best advice would be to recruit a friend, maybe someone a little more experienced, ski together, and spend a lot of time doing MA on other skiers you see, of all skill levels, while you're riding chairs and on the slopes. It's the mutual discussion that will build your skills. At it's core, MA is about developing a deep understanding of the biomechanics of skiing. It will help you in examining your own skiing, as well. It's about recognizing cause and effect, and drilling down to a deep level of detail in identifying cause. MA is not a one and done. It's something you'll do every minute of every lesson with every student. You do your initial MA, and formulate a lesson progression designed to change some part of the student's movement pattern. As you start working through the progression, you need to be able to see if the current drill or focus is having the desired effect, and possibly make adjustments to the progression on the fly.

Some of the fundamental elements of balance and of muscle engagement in a skier may not be easily observed in a direct way. You'll need to learn to recognize what's happening with some of these fundamental elements through the observable effects, primarily ski performance. Some of the most important aspects of MA of an individual skier may turn out to be not gross motor movement patterns, but subtle, brief interruptions of muscular tension at some point in the turn cycle. It takes very little to destroy the balance that a good skier needs. Overall, you're looking for movements, not positions. So for example, just saying that a skier is back is an incomplete description.
What @Chris V. says.

One more thing PSIA looks for. Your verbal description of the skier's skiing needs to be absolutely non-evaluative. No words like "weak" "needs improvement" "wrong" "bad" "disappointing," and so on. Just describe what you see going on. Then decide what piece of what you just described that you will work on changing, and why you've chosen that thing. You've got to say what you think the cause is of that thing, because what you do in the lesson is lead the student to replace that cause with another in order to eliminate the thing you want to change. Always plan to "replace," do not attempt to "eliminate." Avoid using the words "eliminate" and "fix." Use "replace" instead. These are general rules for doing MA.

Best way to improve your MA skills is to buddy up and find a skier who could benefit from a lesson. One of you follow this person, mimicking their movements. This will help you feel the movements and identify which ones dominate. Discuss with your buddy what to focus on replacing, given the conditions du jour and the lesson length, and what you want to replace it with. Two more things: identify the cause of this thing you want to replace, and the benefits the skier will have once it's replaced with your chosen new thing you'll be teaching. This will be especially helpful to you if the buddy you do this with has seasons of experience teaching adults, just as Chris says above.
 

markojp

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This is so wrong, teaching beginners will take a lot is skill not to teach them stuff that has to be unlearned later.

the state of the ski instructions in the states is a disgrace.
You dont teach or get coaching, correct?
 

markojp

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Like on Europe, they learn how to do on their own, then pass the Euro test, and start teaching, and earn a living wage immediately

I know both Gremans and Austrians. I know they didnt just go out and dobit on their own.
 

crosscountry

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Like on Europe, they learn how to do on their own, then pass the Euro test, and start teaching, and earn a living wage immediately
"They learn on their own". You mean pay for their "learning"?

Because no matter what, you'll have to TEACH in order to gain the experience. Someone(s) will have to be their gunnie pig. Only difference is they may not get paid for those "learning to teach" lessons.

Or do you think you can read some books and watch some youtube clips to "learn"?
 

pchewn

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It might also be useful to use the exact same language and keywords as the PSIA training materials. Things like "center of mass", "base of support", "directing pressure to front of ski". If you don't speak their language, they may not pass you.
 
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