For those who are new to PSIA-AASI or even instructing in general, it can be hard to imagine exactly what a Level 1 exam will be like. When I took this exam in January 2018, I had minimal teaching experience but had taken enough lessons in the past to understand some of the terminology and techniques. The exam was both a learning experience and a chance to showcase what you already know. I liked how if you didn’t know an answer the first day, but you learned and could demonstrate it as the days went on, you could still do well.
Day 1 started off riding around groomers and getting comfortable with each other in our groups of 5-6. We went over some of the technical terms outlined in the National Standards. We received good 1 on 1 feedback from our examiner on both our snowboarding and our teaching.
Later in the day, each candidate did a mini lesson with the group. We were given a topic to teach such as one foot skating or getting on the chairlift. It was interesting to see things broken down to such basics. It had been a while since I was a beginner, but once we reviewed how things are learned, the memories of being a beginner came back to me. It has been years since I was scared of getting off the chairlift or doing my first toe side turn.
It was difficult to think about everything a beginner would think about. For example in my first lesson, I told my “subjects” to come to a stop, then I realized I didn’t teach them how to stop. So I backed up and showed them how.
Besides teaching the class a topic, we also demonstrated our own snowboarding ability to the examiner. This is also outlined in the National Standards.
At the end of the day, we were all given a topic and an age group that we were going to do a 20-minute lesson on the next day. I had to teach an intro to jumping to adults in their 40’s with the goal of eventually getting them into the park to jump. Other topics included linking turns and Ollies.
Ride demos in the park include basic air off small jumps and 50-50’s on ride-on boxes.
As a student in other candidates’ lessons, it was fun acting as different age groups and ability levels. I sure had fun acting like I was 7 for the purpose of making the lesson more realistic for my group member.
After passing the exam, not only did I receive a certification, but I also learned a lot in the process and came out as a better instructor. It was a good mix of being a fun and inviting experience, but still having an exam to pass.
Writing and photos by Hanalei Edbrooke