Tips for Pins
Preparation is the key to exam success. Here are some tips to help you in your quest for the pin.
Teaching is the best way to prepare for your exam. Teaching a variety of lessons, levels and individuals will give you an opportunity to broaden your teaching repertoire. What's that? You never get lessons higher than beginner? No problem, teaching the same level to the same type of student will challenge you to be creative! Challenge yourself to start with a new approach, new wording, new analogies, new task, different skill focus, or different class management for every lesson. It will be more fun for you and of course more fun for your students, too! Use the tasks you will be tested on at the exam in your day to day lessons. The more familiar you are with them the better you will perform them, understand them and use them to help your students improve.
Take every opportunity you have to join clinics offered at your own mountain or by P.S.I.A. If you don't have this opportunity, grab a friend and train together. Better yet, grab someone you don't know at all and train together! Whether you have faith in the feedback you get from your training partner, or not, you will benefit greatly from having someone to talk to. Literally!
One of the biggest hurdles the exam presents for candidates is verbalizing what normally happens silently in your own head. The more practice you have at saying out loud what you see, what you would work on, how you would present it, why, and what you would do if that didn't work, the more fluently you will express yourself in the exam and the more confidence you will have, and emanate. No partner? No problem! Take a chair ride alone (when you can) and tell yourself, out loud!
A good way to increase your bag of tricks and broaden your teaching horizons is to shadow other instructors' lessons. Just as you can learn from your students, you will learn from even the least experienced of instructors. If you are going for a level of Certification that will be testing your ability to teach a level you never actually have a chance to teach, then your best bet is to shadow someone else teaching that level. Especially look for, and create, the opportunity to shadow an experienced instructor teaching any level, and don't limit yourself to only those teaching your discipline. Great instructors can be found on all sorts of sliding implements.
Buy yourself a copy of the P.S.I.A. manuals that are appropriate to your sport (e.g. Core Concepts, Alpine Technical Manual, Children's Manual).. and READ THEM! Form a study group and meet regularly: at lunch, after teaching, before line-up, at home, wherever works! It will help you actually do it.
You'll digest the material more thoroughly and have more fun too!! Ask a senior instructor (or trainer) to join you and turn it into a tech. talk!
But don't limit yourself to just these books. There is a whole world of printed expertise out there, so devour every bit you can lay your hands on. Then incorporate it in your lessons.
You will need unfocused time to digest what you have been working on in your own performance, as well as reflect on your recent lessons. Alternate unfocused runs/sessions with focused ones if you have limited time.
Remember, there is such a thing as over-load, so if you are the type that will spend your every waking moment focused on exam preparation, perfect performance and teaching perfection, make sure you take time to go out on the hill just for you to have fun.