TRY THIS: “We worked on parallel turns, bumps, and we skied a black diamond trail. At his next lesson, we’ll work to fine- tune technique and get more mileage.” Meanwhile, if you’re unsure of what the next steps are for that student, get your- self to a training clinic. Learning never stops, regardless of level. At higher levels, improvements become subtler as students fine-tune and hone technique.

Generally, conversations with parents should be positive. This doesn’t mean we shy away from behavior issues, incidents, or the day’s challenges. Put a positive spin on tough situations. Every child – no matter how chal- lenging or difficult they were with you – has redeeming qualities. Celebrate them.


Any interaction with parents should fill them with confidence that their child will be safe, will learn, and will have a great experience. Likewise, the dialogue at the end of lessons should show that these things happened. It can be uncomfortable for new or younger instruc- tors to speak with parents; like anything, it’s a skill that is acquired through practice. Body language, appearance, and attitude

can inspire – or remove – confidence. “Instruc- tors should have a warm, welcoming smile,” says Maureen. “Be positive and confident in your interactions.” Sometimes pros – particu- larly (but not always) newer instructors – lack self-confidence, perhaps because of inexpe- rience. For those people, try these tactics, “Look parents in the eye; don’t look at the ground,” says Maureen. “Speak clearly and try to connect with parents. Portraying self- confidence inspires confidence.” But what do parents really want to know?

Ski and ride school director Maureen has put her two boys in many lessons. “I want to know if they had fun,” she says. “And I’d like to know what they worked on and on what terrain.” Meghan adds that she would appreciate feedback on what her kids should be working on. “I want them to keep it positive,” she says. “I want to know it was productive.” Meanwhile, keep in mind that kids will

tell their parents when anything out of the ordinary happens, like an injury, a behavior issue, or a student getting separated or lost. It’s best for parents to get the story from you first, and then you should follow up by tell- ing your supervisor. “One time my daugh- ter got separated from the group,” Meghan says. She heard the story from her daughter before her coach had an opportunity to fill

her in. “Hearing the story from my daughter was horrifying,” Meghan recalls.


You likely use PSIA-AASI’s Teaching Cycle in lessons. The Cycle ends with checking for understanding and summarizing the lesson. However, wrapping up with kids isn’t enough; parents need to be brought into the loop. What did the kids work on? Where did they ski or ride? Did they have fun? Inspire parents to feel like putting their child in lessons was the right thing to do and that their financial investment was worth it. Parents put their trust in us to care for

their kids, but they don’t have to. We have two opportunities to demonstrate that lessons are a worthwhile investment. One is during the lesson. And the second is when we talk face-to-face with parents. Be profes- sional, energetic, and comfortable. And prove to parents that you are going to give them a solid return on their investment.

Mark Aiken is a Level III alpine instructor and member of the Eastern Division ACE (Advanced Children’s Educator) team. He leads a weekly kids FOLQLF IRU VWDff DW KLV KRPH PRXQWDLQ 6WRZH $Q endurance runner, Mark often trains for and runs marathons… all the while balancing the ultimate endurance sport – parenting.

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