In order to finance my two and a half weeks in the mountains, I had to get a little creative. I’m most proud of the fact that I managed to convince my mother’s school to take me along on a school trip, leaving me with only the rental costs for my material. This accomplishment was due to the hours of supervision work I’ve done whenever I am in the area, through which I seem to have made a respectable impression. Add the fact that I demonstrated some skills on the ski slopes last year when I tagged along on their alumnae ski trip, and a bit of encouragement from my mother, and the organising team decided to make me one of their six ski teachers.
I’ve been skiing since I was a small kid, but I’ve never had the responsibility of teaching others how to slide down a slope with sticks strapped to their feet. Bearing this in mind I had a steep learning curve. What follows is a list of some of the things I learned that are not directly related to skiing technique or exercises.
- It starts with the boots. Make sure the pupil has the correct boot on the correct foot.
We had at least three individual students who tried to put on their boots with the buckles facing inwards towards each other. This was after we had tried them on in the shop and explained how to wear them the evening before. Therefore you have to :
- Assume your students have a ‘Memory like a Goldfish’.
No matter how loudly or clearly you speak, someone won’t hear you be listening, or they will forget by the time the euphoria of a few metres of snow kicks in. Don’t be afraid of sounding like a broken record. You only have to worry when you start talking or singing to yourself even when alone/not teaching.
- It’s a lot more difficult to ski a clean turn when the entire group is watching you.
At the end of the day though, your number one priority is to avoid skiing into your students. And avoid them skiing into you. To do this you teach them that control is the most important part of skiing- controlling your speed and being able to regain control over your speed when everything starts going a bit pear-shaped. When teaching the pattern and rhythm of movement, a small song can be helpful. Just take into account lesson number 2.
- An (empty) bin bag makes an excellent sled.
The main goal of a school trip is to have educational fun. When the muscles are all tired from days of skiing, a small night-hike up the slope and a bin-bag-ride down is an awesome way to spend some time and pacify some of the speed demons in your group.
- Teach without poles.
I refused to use poles for the first two and a half days, asking the kids to focus on their skis and their balance. I finally gave in on day three, only to discover that those kids that had complained the most about not using them ended up hating them the most. They were a distraction, they got in the way, and most of my troupe chose to go without again after just a day of using them. Most of them skied better without them, anyway.