Professional Development Plan: National Team Member Mike Hafer

Congratulations to the 2021-24 PSIA-AASI National Team for all the work they’ve done promoting, supporting, and assisting with the development of PSIA-AASI education materials, programs, and activities at all levels.

As the team enters its final season, team coaches and members reflect on the work they’ve done for the association, their personal accomplishments, and their professional development plans — including how they think those plans can help you reach your goals this season.

PSIA Alpine Team Member Mike Hafer

Q: This team has achieved a lot in a short time including representing the association at Interski 2023, continued refinement of the Learning Connection, and working toward the target date to align certification processes. What achievements stand out to you?

A: The 2021-24 team was one full year shorter in term length compared to a normal term. In perspective from past experiences, this team did a phenomenal job collaborating on projects in a shortened time frame. The areas that stand out are, the success with the demo passes in Finland, which elicited positive feedback from our peers; the on-snow workshops that were well attended and created further conversations throughout the week; and the indoor presentations that caught the attention of the world. All these success stories came from the collaborative efforts of each and every team member.

Q: Where do you want to improve this season, especially in regard to the individual people, teaching, and technical skills of the Learning Connection?

A: I like to think of author Frank McCourt’s quote, “The best teacher is the best learner.” My overarching goal is to continue to develop skills to further my ability to be a better team member. I have developmental goals in all three areas:

  • People skills: I can continue to strengthen my curiosity versus being judgmental by asking more questions where applicable during my presentations.
  • Teaching skills: I can be more specific on my learning outcomes in my presentations. This will give people confidence that I know what direction we’re heading versus the uneasiness of not knowing where we will end up.
  • Technical skills: I have an opportunity to explore different tactics in different conditions and terrain to improve my performance.

Q: What other professional goals do you have in terms of teaching and skiing?

A: I would like to continue to strengthen our organization by contributing when and where I can. As an example, I am currently on the Teaching Task Force, where my goal is to add to this group when my experiences and knowledge allow me to do so. Once the creative work is accomplished, the time will come when creative turns into a supportive and educator role so we can create alignment across the organization in our certification process.

Q: How can you work with and learn from other instructors on this journey?

A: One can learn something from anyone we encounter, regardless of one’s experience in our organization. I will continue to request to lead as many clinics as possible to refine my presentation and people skills. The answer to this question is part of my goal of being curious. We have so many great instructors whose strengths are different than my own. When curiosity leads, the door is open to learning something new from others. In addition, this opportunity leads to a higher level of engagement during clinics.

Q: How can your professional development plan help other instructors work to achieve their goals?

A: The first step is to share what I am working on in my own development when the opportunity presents itself. This will help others observe a success or work in progress in that area. Others will then have an opportunity to either recreate or avoid that specific experience. We need examples of real-time situations so we can replicate our own experiences. Through identifying the “what,” it may trigger someone else to reflect on their own development and whether the subject matter may be an opportunity for them.

Q: What does being a member of the PSIA-AASI community mean to you, and how do you share that sense of belonging with the people you teach, as well as other snow pros?

A: I am very proud to be a member of PSIA-AASI and the community of instructors who support our organization. I have seen so many positive outcomes from being a part of a large group of people. It is amazing to me when I attend events like Master’s Academy for PSIA-AASI East and see the number of members excited to attend this event. It is sold out within hours of it opening. Due to events like this, I feel like I can ski at any resort in the United States and run into someone I know.

I support that sense of belonging through engaging with others during events and sharing my experiences with those in my clinic groups. It is the energy around these conversations that creates the positive energy in others and keeps them coming back. I am passionate about the organization and that passion comes out in my teaching.