The importance of choosing a good school when you start to work as an IKO kite instructor!

Senza categoria, The instructor life

As most of you know I’m a kitesurfing instructor, two and a half years ago I started to teach in Puerto Rico for a school called WindAddiction, and I immediately fell for the job. Teaching kitesurfing was like a fresh breath of new air and I absolutely loved it.

To be honest I knew this would have happened… so I was only getting ready to put in practice what my mind decided already. And so, a few months later I passed the IKO exam in Cabarete and I made this my main job. 

Unfortunately, Puerto Rico does not have any IKO centers and I had to leave anyway, so I started to look for another spot where I could teach kitesurfing. I submitted several applications and talked to quite a few schools. I wanted to come closer to Europe to be able, after 5 years in the caribbeans, to see my family and friends more often than once a year. Destiny wanted me to connect with Carlo, the owner of PKS – Professional Kite School – in Castiglione della Pescaia, in Tuscany. He convinced me very easily, besides the fact that Carlo is one of those people that have a great vibe, he talked to me about how they would have helped me in becoming a better kitesurf instructor. At that time, I had maybe 9 months of teaching experience in a school that wasn’t using the IKO teaching methodology (do not worry I’ll explain this in another blog post). I really needed guidance. And I thought, I need to take this seriously because I want kitesurfing to become my career and if I could have somebody who’ll explain more and give me all the tips and tricks of the job that would have been wonderful.

And there I was, in Tuscany, after 10 years out of Italy eating like a pig, drinking wine like there’s no tomorrow and learning how to teach kitesurfing. THE BEST COMBO EVER for the summertime.  Carlo stood up to his word, him and other more experienced instructors taught me a lot. Tehe positive sides of teaching in a place like PKS Beach are: the spot is flat, the wind is smooth and light, PKS is the only kite school around and we had a dedicated area for teaching. The challenging part of teaching in Tuscany is the light wind. Everybody can fly and relaunch a kite with 15-18 and above knots, but can you do it with 10? Coming from a place where the average wind was min 18 knots you can imagine I didn’t know how to fly a kite with 10-12 knots… With a lot of training and feedback and frustration I’ve survived the 10 knots conditions with a big smile as I brought home a huge amount of learnings! I was really lucky to find a school who wanted to invest time to train me and I will be forever grateful for this. 

Then I moved to Tenerife to work with PKS Tenerife, a new kite school  Carlo opened in El Médano in the Canary Islands. Well guys, we went from 10knots to 30knots. To give you the idea, in summer time we need to cancel the classes because there is too much wind. So you can easily understand that here, even though the IKO teaching method is the same, you need to adjust to the conditions 25-30 knots, shore break and 100 kiters in the water and 10 kite schools working in the same spot. Even in this case you will need the experience from somebody else to guide you to keep your student alive ;P 

GoinKitesurf | Kitesurf lessons in El Medano, Tenerife.
Normal day in El Médano

Now I am exaggerating but most probably I would not suggest somebody in her/his first kite instructor experience to choose a location like this.

The IKO course teaches you a lot but at the same time there is a lot of learning that comes from experience and practice with real students. A learning baggage that you will create with the hours you spend on the beach watching, observing and analyzing. 

If you do this job right, you will start to pick up all the small errors the students make and correct them immediately so that the lesson program will run smoother and the student will ultimately have a better kite control in less time. There are plenty of errors that are repeated among students and what really helped me discovering them, besides hours of watching the students, is also brainstorming with the more experienced instructors of the school. That’s also another incredible benefit to work for a school with an instructor group that helps each other overcome possible obstacles with students. There will always be that one error you didn’t know, or a specific case which you don’t know how to manage. And here, it’s when the availability of somebody like my boss Carlo, or more experienced instructor can make a difference mostly when you are starting your career as an instructor.

In PKS Tenerife we recently welcomed a new member of the team, an IKO Assistant trainer called Guido. For me it was like Christmas, I can spend hours with him talking about some of the teaching methods and how to apply them to different students. I’ve done almost 1000 hours of teaching and still I have two students that are blocked at the waterstart step. I’ve tried it all, ran out of ideas, and with Guido we discussed other possible ways to make them overcome their barrier. Curious to try them out in my next lessons with them.

It seems like an easy job, and it could appear a very repetitive job. I assure you that it’s not, or at least, it really depends how you do it, like any other job. Beside the fact that you are responsible to teach somebody how to practice an extreme sport, each student is different, they learn in different ways and you have to adapt to them to make sure they understand everything correctly.

So to summarize my biggest recommendation would be to find a kite job in a school where a head of instructor, or the boss will teach you all the tips and tricks of the job so that you will progress way easier in teaching kitesurfing.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Ciao ciao