Simplify your teaching – Improving your skiing by focusing on less

Rules, regulations, laws, and complexity. Since the birth of the constitution there has been no year with fewer laws than the previous year. Simply look at tax law, and realize that there is no one person who knows all the rules. These rules become so complex that it requires a professional to navigate the waters for us.

complex pool.jpg

Today my daughter made up a game around the pool table. There were so many rules to the game that we lost sight of the point of the game. And even though we wanted to play the game, we were lost in the minutiae. We played anyway, and half way through the game she stopped us. Then proceeded to add more rules to the game, as well as adding a new objective. My son lost interest, and I listened and followed along politely. 

“Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”    – Albert Einstein
This a wonderful goal for a teacher, or maker of rules.

Copy, Choose, Create
As a teacher of skiing develops they go through these phases of presenting information to their students.  PSIA-RM Document

Copy– New instructors are taught a progression of steps to bring a student from a to b to c. If the instructor runs into a stumbling block they either continue to try to tell the student to try the same thing until the student either succeeds or quits. Or they look around to see what somebody else is doing, then they interpret the movement and share it with the student. And often inefficient movement patterns are created.

Choose– The teacher has a few progressions and quick fixes in their bag of tricks. This level of instructor can teach to several types of learning styles. 
Often an instructor will move through one progression and find that the student will be performing well, yet still in need of practice and mileage. The experienced instructor realizes this is a natural part of learning and is willing to offer modest coaching of existing movements. The less experienced instructor desires to add new movements prematurely, or pile on another progression immediately. This is know as “puking on the student” or “downloading” on the student.  Everything the instructor knows is given to the student. It rarely is beneficial, yet the student rarely realizes that it is detrimental.

Create– This is a first level of mastery in an instructor. It is the ability to draw upon progressions, “tricks”, terrain, lesson timing, movement pools, psychological understandings, etc to customize the experience to the student or class. 
The lesson may or may not follow an order ever shared by the instructor, or it may be a plain “vanilla” progression. The Mastery of this Creation is in the simplicity it is delivered and understood. When a student says, “Wow, nobody has ever told me it that way before.” you can be quite certain you created a special lesson.

The expert instructor has a desire to create, and build simplicity into the lesson. The first few times you create may get messy, it may cause you to backtrack or restate things during your lesson, that is ok. This is part of the process. To accelerate the process, talk with an experienced pro about your ideas, this can help you through your learning process. Most pros are happy to talk shop. 

Simplify, simplify, simplify, but no simpler. There are only a few things worse than teaching “dead-end” simple moves to an eager student. Do the creations translate to movement patterns shared by an expert skier? They should. Even a wedge turn has movements an expert uses.

Jonathan Lawson is an instructor and staff trainer at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado. He has been teaching skiing since 1991, and teaching in Colorado since 1993, and a PSIA-Rocky Mountain Trainer since 1999. He continually works at making skiing easier to understand so that students can ski more.

Wikipedia: Rookie is a term for a person who is in his or her first year of play of their sport or has little or no professional experience. ยป

The Perfume

Sometimes a story resonates with you. Gaining an understanding that things are not always what they appear, and accepting others at more than face value.

Here is a email forward that I just received, and I believe that is worth the minute or two it takes to read.  Enjoy…



As  she  stood in front of  her
primary 5 class on the very first day of school, she told  the children an

Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and
said that she loved them all the same.

However, that was impossible, because there in
the front row, slumped in

his seat, was a little boy named Koko Bassey.

Mrs.Thompson had watched Koko the year before
and noticed that he did not

play well  with  the  other 
children,  that  his clothes were messy and that he

constantly needed a bath. In addition, 
Koko BASSEY could be  unpleasant.


It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would
actually take delight

in  marking  his  papers 
with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and

then putting a big  “F”  at
the top of his papers.


At  the  school where Mrs. Thompson
taught, she was required to review each

child’s past  records and she put Koko’s
off until last. However, when she reviewed

his file, she was in  for a surprise.


Koko’s primary 1 teacher wrote, “Koko is a
bright child with a ready laugh.

He does his work neatly and has good manners…
he is a joy to be around.”


His primary 2 teacher wrote, “Koko is an
excellent pupil, well liked by his

classmates,  but  he  is troubled
because his mother has a terminal illness

and life at home must be a struggle.”


His primary 3 teacher wrote, “His mother’s
death has been hard on

him.  He  tries to do his best, but his
father doesn’t show much

interest  and his home life will soon
affect him if some steps aren’t  taken.”


Koko’s  primary  4  teacher
wrote, “Koko is withdrawn and doesn’t show much

interest in  school. He doesn’t have many
friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By  now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem
and she was ashamed of herself.

She felt  even worse when her pupils
brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in

beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for


His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy,
brown paper that he got from

a grocery bag. Mrs.  Thompson 
took  pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.

Some of the  children  started 
to  laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with

some of the  stones missing, and a bottle
that was one-quarter full of perfume. But

she stifled  the children’s laughter when
she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet

was putting it on, and dabbing some of the
perfume on her wrist.

Koko  Bassey  stayed  after
school that day just long enough to say,

“Mrs.  Thompson,  today 
you  smelled  just like  my Mom used to.”


After  the children left, she cried for at
least an hour. On that very day,

she quit  teaching reading, writing and
arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach

children.  Mrs.  Thompson  paid
particular attention to Koko. As she worked

with him, his  mind  seemed to come
alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he


By the end of the year, Koko had become one of
the smartest  children in

the class and, despite her lie that she would
love  all  the  children  the same,

Koko became one of her “teacher’s

A  year  later,  she  found
a note under her door, from Koko, telling her that she was

still the best teacher he ever had in his whole

Six years went by before she got another note
from Koko. He then wrote that he had

finished secondary school, third in his
class,and  she  was  still  the best teacher

he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter,
saying that while things had been tough at times,

he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, 
and  would  soon  graduate from the university with the

highest  of  honors.  He assured
Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher

he had ever had in his whole life.

Then  four  more  years 
passed  and  yet another letter came. This time he

explained that after he got his bachelor’s
degree, he decided to go a little further.

The letter  explained  that she was
still the best and favorite teacher he ever

had. But now  his name was a little
longer….The letter was signed, Koko A. Bassey, MD.


The story does not end there. You see, there was
yet another letter that spring.

Koko said he had met this girl and was going to
be married. He explained that his  father

had died a couple of years ago  and he was
wondering if Mrs. Thompson might  agree to sit at the

wedding  in the place that was usually
reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what?
She wore that bracelet,  the  one with  several rhinestones

Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the
perfume that  Koko  remembered his mother wearing

on their last Christmas together.They
hugged  each other, and Dr. Bassey whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear,

“Thank you, Mrs.  Thompson 
for  believing  in  me Thank you so much for making me feel
important and

showing me that  I  could make a

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered
back. She said, “Koko, you have it  all  wrong.

You were the one  who  taught  me
that  I could make a difference.

I  didn’t know how  to teach
until  I  met  you.”

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this
along.  Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today or
tomorrow.  Just  “do  it”. Random acts of kindness, I
think they call it.

Find time to laugh… but not at the weaknesses
of others!

Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery,
Today is the present, so let’s call it a Gift!!!

And if you have another few minutes, listen to the Shia Story…