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  • Writer's pictureDerek Tate

Give your learners a voice

Give your learners a voice

When it comes to holistic development of instructors and consequently their guests it means giving your learners a VOICE by truly listening to them. I am using the term 'learners' here to mean ski instructors who are being trained as they progress through the certification pathway and the people that they teach when working with their guests in a ski school environment. While it could be argued, with some justification, that giving children a voice is the most important, because it directly affects their development in a positive way, I believe that this is vital for all learners no matter what age they are.

Carl Rogers introduced the term 'active listening' which is about being fully engaged and present when someone is talking to you. He also talked about how important it is to listen in order to understand and not in order to reply. Personally, I know that I have often fallen into this trap of thinking about my answer while the person is still talking to me. Getting our point across is often our priority when we should really just be listening and allowing the person to fully express themselves.

Value their opinion


Do we really 'value' the opinions of our learners? Failing to do so will potentially knock their confidence which in turn will negatively affect their self esteem. The next four letters of this acronym all contribute to us really 'valuing' our learners opinion but if we are to be successful then we need to regularly reflect on the sessions that we deliver and question ourselves as to whether we are following the steps set out in this article.

Be open to different points of view


Are we really open to different points of view? Or do we succumb to 'confirmation bias'? As ski instructors we often have very firm ideas about technique, progression, teaching methodologies etc. We need to remain open to ideas that may be different to our own otherwise our learners will shut down and feel there is no point in contributing. Check out a previous blog I wrote on 'Dismantling unconscious biases in snowsports teaching and learning' for more on this.

Include everyone in the discussions


This may sound obvious but it takes some skill on the part of the 'deliverer' to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to contribute. This means monitoring the discussion and asking direct questions to those who are quieter while skilfully managing those who have a lot more to say. This does not mean shutting down the more vocal members of the group but merely bringing in others whenever possible so as to get a more balanced and inclusive representation of people's opinions.

Build confidence by involving them in the decision making process


Great teaching (and therefore more effective learning) requires the learners to be involved in their learning and be involved in the decision making process. Mosston and Ashworth's Spectrum of Teaching Styles provides an ideal framework for helping learners to gradually take on more and more of the decisions and responsibility for their learning. But they need to be able to voice these decisions to us (their instructor). To learn more about the Spectrum of Teaching Styles go to

And to read about how these styles relate more specifically to the snowsports teaching environment check out the Ski Instructors Handbook - Teaching Tools & Techniques.

Encourage curiosity and questioning


One of the joys of learning is being given the space and time to be curious and to feel comfortable questioning the ideas being presented. Problem solving, exploring, and playing are all part of the learning adventure and encourage more creativity and crucially foster a love of learning that will transcend to all areas of life. The PSIE (and PSIC) put the 'adventure' front and centre of every skiing experience our learners experience.

If you would like to develop your skills as a ski instructor then why not sign up to one of our courses. We welcome ski instructors from other associations to join us and become part of a collaborative community that has a zero ceiling approach to learning. Memberships will be going live soon and this will be followed by a full and exciting course schedule for season 2024/25.


Lockerbie, A., & Tate, D. (2012). Ski instructors handbook: teaching tools and techniques. Parallel Dreams Publishing.

Rogers, C. (1959). A Theory of therapy, personality, and interpersonal relationships: As developed in the client-centered framework. In S. Koch (Ed.), Psychology: A study of a science. Vol. 3: Formulations of the person and the social context (pp. 184–256). McGraw-Hill.

About the author

Derek Tate is an alpine skiing coach and director of British Alpine Ski School Chamonix. He is the President and co-founder of the Professional Ski Instructors of Europe, a mental skills coach, positive psychology practitioner, strengths practitioner, and author. His recent books include, "Six Steps for Training the Mind", "Learn, Enjoy, Flow & Grow" and "Transformational Flow Coaching". You can learn more from his author page. He is a member of PSIE, PSIC, BASI, and IASI.

Professional Ski Instructors of Europe PSIE


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