Nordic Ski Instructor

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Teaching skiing

Teaching: [ role | ethics | styles | alternatives | terminology | preparations | lessons ]


Becoming a professional ski instructor brings with it an unofficial code of conduct, or ethics. In some ski instructor associations, formal codes of conduct are written and each instructor must agree to abide by such before being admitted as a full member of that organisation. They reinforce the professional aspects of ski instruction, and ensure that each member has a respect for their associates and the ski industry as a whole.

Ski instructors are very 'visible' people, such that in the course of their activities they come under close scrutiny of many others. They are not able to practise their skill in a private room, for example (although a white-out must surely come close!). Therefore, when instructing, it is important to act in a manner befitting the profession as a whole - some would say that this should be extended to include all of the occasions when the instructor is associating with skiing.

Whilst on the job, not only is it wise to avoid situations where you might be drawn into arguments with students, but equally so with other instructors. This is also best avoided when not instructing, and in the mixed company of students and instructors alike. Save the private discussion for later. Students do not benefit from hearing instructors arguing about the finer points of technique or method, especially if it leads to their confusion, or worse, disappointment. Unfortunately, there is always the Good Samaritan ski instructor who insists on bringing everyone up-to-date, but usually at the most inconvenient time (in the middle of someone else's lesson!). This is not to say that healthy discussion of ideas is a bad thing - it is just that there is a time and place for information-sharing.

It is easy to criticize other instructor's techniques and methods, especially if it is observed from a distance and (usually) out of context. Be extremely wary of gaining false impressions of other instructors and their ability, not to mention the use or part-use of their progressions unless you have the full picture. Each instructor has her/his own method of instruction, and relates it to the student or students concerned - what you see (from a distance) may be a perfect demonstration of what is totally inappropriate in your eyes, but entirely appropriate for that lesson and that lesson's mood.

Be wary of criticizing students, both in front of them, and behind their back. The ski world is much smaller than you might at first believe, and it does not pay to broadcast loudly that 'so-and-so' was the worst student that you ever had (unless 'so-and-so' can remain anonymous), or that you never want to teach that person again. This is doubly important if you participate in team-teaching sessions with another instructor. It is easy to fall into the trap of creating a 'them versus us' scenario if things get tough. Be assured that such scenarios are recipes for (further?) disaster, and feed on themselves.

Do not assume that your students will be unaware of your feelings towards them or the lesson. Good instructors will only consider themselves to have had a good time instructing if, and only if, the students had had a good time in the same period. It is impossible for good instructors to enjoy themselves at the expense of their students. Analyse your reasons for being there in front of a group of students as an instructor: if it is to further your own skiing skills and flatter your ego, and possibly teach those mugs standing in front of you, then you are of no value to the profession of instructing.

Ski instruction has been around for many years now, and yet those involved with any real commitment are few and far between. How many instructors feel that the whole community sees ski instructing as a good holiday occupation to have before getting a 'real' job? Who is to blame for this perceived notion? Why is this profession any less real than any other profession? Our attitudes to all of those who make up this industry shape the way in which people think of ski instruction. By having a genuine regard for those we teach, and those who teach with us, the future will be brighter for all of us.

Look to those who make a living from instructing for positive feedback and encouragement - at any level of qualification. The old adage of never being too old to learn applies equally well to both student and instructor alike. Those instructors who have more than a few seasons experience have obviously managed to do the right thing somewhere along the line - there are only so many 'new entrants' into Nordic ski instruction per year, so the rest must be repeat customers who want to come back for more.

Teaching: [ role | ethics | styles | alternatives | terminology | preparations | lessons ]

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