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Author Topic: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?  (Read 2457 times)

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Offline Query

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Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« on: November 08, 2016, 10:01:04 AM »
In my geographic area (metro DC) all the LTS programs I have asked about require instructors to have passed USFS silver or gold level tests, and figure skating directors apply a similar standard to private instructors. It has been my understanding that there are somewhat lower requirements in some rural areas. Does anyone know of any place one could teach beginners with minimal credentials?

I've been a VOLUNTEER skating instructor in a USFS[A] Basic Skills program (which is now part of LearnToSkateUSA) on a part-time, seasonal basis for about 9 years. I'm a registered LearnToSkateUSA coach, and if I spent a week studying it, I could probably pass the PSA CerC test (it's only an on-line test).

I would love to teach skating as a professional, to groups or to private students - fully understanding that I could only teach beginners. I consider myself fairly good at teaching that which I know and can do.

But I've never taught above Basic 4, and my skills don't justify it - I'm not flexible enough to do proper spirals, even my two foot spins don't center very well, and as I get older, my jumps are even less convincing - at best my waltz jumps might be good enough to teach. The only official skating tests I ever passed were the 3 USFSA preliminary dances, long, long ago.

I can skate moderately fast and with confidence. I have fairly good posture, except for flexibility drills like spirals, and am pretty good at the injury prevention side of things. I can teach to multiple learning styles. I have also taught intro level kayaking, and have tutored math. I enjoy skating, and I love teaching.

Any ideas?

Offline amy1984

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2016, 11:55:09 AM »
To me, if you're taking on private lessons, or even a group on your own, you should be better qualified than what you're describing, but yes, lower level coaches are great for beginners in the right setting, such as helping out during a group lesson.  I think an instructor at your level would probably be most useful in the role you're in - on the ice during a group lesson, probably accompanied by a more qualified coach.  This is what a lot of our teen skaters or even adult skaters do.

And just throwing it out there, but kids advance quickly through levels usually.  You'd take on a beginner and then very quickly probably be in a situation where you're being outskated by the kid and you'd have to pass them on.  There would be no consistent client base for you because of this - you'd be passing on all your students.

I have no children so maybe someone else can speak more to this point but in terms of my hypothetical child in this scenario, I'd be looking for someone a bit more qualified to coach my kid if he or she were taking private lessons.

Offline Jf12

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2016, 04:00:06 PM »
I think it's great that people of all levels have a passion for skating! However, would you take a lesson yourself from someone who was the same level as you are?  When I am skating with my friends who are around the same level we share tips sometimes, and we take those in the spirit it was intended, as a peer who might notice obvious things that you can't see about yourself.  However when I am paying someone to give expert advice I would expect the dynamic to be different.  The coach should be able to think ahead to what skills build upon other skills and shape the curriculum accordingly.  I am not sure it is possible to teach a 3 turn well if a coach has never done a bracket, for example.

Offline riley876

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2016, 04:08:03 PM »
Yes, yes, yes.  You bring inherent understanding of what basic problems beginning skaters (especially adults) have.   My experience is that high level coaches who have been doing axels since they were 4,  literally have no idea how to help the inept.   They've skated intuitively for as long as they remember, and have no memory of e.g. what's so scary about skating backwards.

Offline riley876

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2016, 04:17:12 PM »
And besides, at least a good fraction of the role of a coach, is the human contact.  Simply having someone give a hoot about your skating and gently push you is motivating and thus hugely helpful.

Offline Jf12

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2016, 05:32:51 PM »
it's possible for non skaters or low test skaters to study a lot and pick up knowledge beyond their tested level - many judges and IJS specialists haven't been skaters at all.  This could certainly be the case with the OP.

However, I would argue that beginning skaters should be taught technique from the beginning with higher level skills in mind.  If someone isn't comfortable teaching crossovers to someone working on the juvenile moves test why should they be teaching crossovers to someone just beginning? 

Offline kr1981

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2016, 06:51:57 PM »
In my geographic area (metro DC) all the LTS programs I have asked about require instructors to have passed USFS silver or gold level tests, and figure skating directors apply a similar standard to private instructors. It has been my understanding that there are somewhat lower requirements in some rural areas. Does anyone know of any place one could teach beginners with minimal credentials?

Yes! I'm up in Frederick and we have a few retired ladies who coach. I believe they all started skating as adults, and are all low level skaters themselves, but they teach private lessons as well as group lessons. I think they're only qualified to teach very beginners (first couple levels of basic skills, I guess?) but where I see them working the most is with little kids who are just getting on the ice. When I'm at public sessions during the day, these coaches are often there giving private lessons to 3/4/5 year-olds who are still getting their feet under them. The advantage for parents, too, is that their hourly rate is quite a bit less (i.e. $20 per 30 minutes vs. the $30 for 30 minutes that I pay for someone who can work with me on jumps and spins). However, I know that at least one of these ladies also sometimes teaches the beginner adult LTS class, and she does have some beginner adult students for private lessons as well. So in short, yes, Frederick does have some low level professional instructors.  :)

Offline icedancer

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2016, 11:28:47 AM »
Posts like this always remind me of a coach that I knew "back i the day" - she had only actually passed her 1st figure test herself but she understood skating to the core and had many, many very high-level students, including skaters the competed at Nationals.

I wonder if in today's climate she would even be "allowed" to teach.

I also think it depends on where you live. 

Offline Query

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2016, 08:39:08 PM »
You don't need to be that good to teach the basics. E.g., there are a lot of kids and adults who just want to learn enough to be comfortable on the ice, and don't want to pay the $60-$90/hour rates local coaches charge. Some adults don't feel comfortable in group classes with little kids, and some students have more trouble with a particular skill than it is reasonable to deal with in a group lesson context. Those people I could teach. I also believe that people should learn to fall safely, something I understand better than many "real coaches".

Sometimes I can teach a skill better to someone who has trouble learning it better than those who learned it very easily, because I understand the problem from having had it myself.

A LTS program at a rink in DC is mostly volunteer-taught by people like me without much in the way of formal qualifications. A judge at a competition told me that our kids did better than at most rinks. Sure, the best kids do progress quickly past what people like me can teach. Fortunately we also have better qualified people to take care of them.

But my major question was: Does anyone knew of any rinks where one could teach at lower level skill levels?


Offline amy1984

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2016, 09:06:39 AM »
But my major question was: Does anyone knew of any rinks where one could teach at lower level skill levels?

My answer would be no.  All of our what we consider lower level coaches are at a higher level than you described.  But I am in Canada where you need to be certified.  I believe our lowest certification needs a junior bronze test, which for freeskate, is the level of a flying camel spin and an axel, for skills, it's backwards three turns, and for dance, if I remember right, it's about the level of the Willow.

Offline emitche

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2016, 01:51:32 AM »
You can consider skating programs or clubs that have junior coach or apprenticeship programs built-in. The benefit of a junior coach position would be mentorship to learn to become a better coach (both hopefully in terms of learning teaching skills and getting information about what you need with skating skills to progress as a coach.)

This program appears to have junior coach positions. Perhaps they have an opening. http://www.pavilioncafe.com/ice-skating-coaches.html

At your skating level, teaching beginning beginners seems like a good fit.
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Offline emitche

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2016, 01:56:23 AM »
You can consider skating programs or clubs that have junior coach or apprenticeship programs built-in. The benefit of a junior coach position would be mentorship to learn to become a better coach (both hopefully in terms of learning teaching skills and getting information about what you need with skating skills to progress as a coach.)

This program appears to have junior coach positions. Perhaps they have an opening. http://www.pavilioncafe.com/ice-skating-coaches.html

At your skating level, teaching beginning beginners seems like a good fit.
I also want to add that you clearly have a lot of long-term experience doing this. It's just finding the right place. Best wishes in your search.
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Offline sampaguita

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2016, 02:17:39 AM »
At my rink, there are a number of low-level skating instructors. In the ISI system, you also get certified per level. Since we lack skating instructors in my rink, these instructors do get a number of students, especially in the summer, although the trend is to get a higher-level coach as the student approaches FS3.

Offline Nate

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Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2016, 12:24:28 PM »
Unless you live in an area where the sport isn't that popular, probably not. You can teach LTS at other places, though. They're always looking for help with that.

You can be a great choreographer or technician; but without clientele or results to show for it, you will be crowded out by others with longer resumes 98.6% of the time.

Also, becoming a coach can have an effect on how you interact with other skaters at the rink. However, that's very dependent on rink culture in your area.


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Offline ChristyRN

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2016, 08:46:45 PM »
We have at least one LTS coach that has never tested, either standard or adult track. Most of the rest have passed tests up through double jumps. I don't know about PSA tests. I do also know of one skating director that apparently hasn't passed any--at least none that show up on her official bio where all the coaches list stuff like that and I didn't see her name on the last USFS coaches list. (we are USFS at our rinks)
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Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2016, 03:37:45 PM »
There are requirements for PSA ratings. I think there are also requirements for having students that pass certain test levels, as well, for rating purposes.

I actually think judging is easier to get into than coaching, but it can take longer due to how illogical the system for that works, in practice. 

Skating director is managerial, so I'm not sure there are any hard requirements for that. Most end up being coaches at their rinks/clubs, though.

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Offline icedancer

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2016, 04:08:36 PM »

I actually think judging is easier to get into than coaching, but it can take longer due to how illogical the system for that works, in practice. 

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As a Gold Singles/Pairs and Dance Test Judge my first thought is that it looks like it is much easier to become a coach than a judge - I see a lot of our skaters make that transition and start out as Jr Coaches teaching LTS.  Their achievement levels in skating have been varied as well.

So it probably is different in various areas depending on competition for coaching jobs but it sounds like in some areas you have to have achieved quite a high skating level yourself if you ever expect to coach - that is many years - maybe it just seems longer to get a judging appointment because by the time you decide you want to become a judge you don't have that many years of life left and so every year that you don't get your next appointment seems like a lifetime!!

That being said I wish there was a easy way to get young people more involved in judging!

Offline Query

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2016, 06:59:00 PM »
Judging is not professional, at least within the USFSA. Low level ISI judges ARE already professional coaches, in the sense that the ISI coaches bring students to a WeSkate competition trade off acting as judges there.

I know one person who acted as a figure skating director without being a skater herself. She did a great job (maybe partly for the benefit of her daughter, who was a competitive skater?); she brought Olympic level coaches to her rink, set up a popular and profitable group lesson program, with the regular classes and interesting special ciinics, arranged for lots of freestyle and dance sessions. Probably helped that she devoted a lot of time to it, whereas coaches who also act as director have other big demands on their time. But, for her at least, it was indeed a strictly managerial position. That's not fun. I love teaching, not managing.

I'll look into junior coaching, including the program mentioned. I may also look into ISI. (I passed ISI classes through Freestyle 2, but my passage wasn't registered with ISI.)


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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2016, 11:05:07 PM »
As a Gold Singles/Pairs and Dance Test Judge my first thought is that it looks like it is much easier to become a coach than a judge - I see a lot of our skaters make that transition and start out as Jr Coaches teaching LTS.  Their achievement levels in skating have been varied as well.

So it probably is different in various areas depending on competition for coaching jobs but it sounds like in some areas you have to have achieved quite a high skating level yourself if you ever expect to coach - that is many years - maybe it just seems longer to get a judging appointment because by the time you decide you want to become a judge you don't have that many years of life left and so every year that you don't get your next appointment seems like a lifetime!!

That being said I wish there was a easy way to get young people more involved in judging!
Theoretically, judging is easier.  In practice, it isn't.  The guidance for becoming a coach and working up through the system is a lot simpler to follow, and doesn't rely as much on the types of things Trial Judging requires you to do.

From what my Monitor explained to me, Trial Judging requires you to judge <x> amount of tests are all levels for the concentration you're going for (Singles & Pairs, Ice Dance, etc.).  It also involves progression throttling because they won't allow you to progress faster than they think you should be. This means if you have the time, means, and expenses to travel around your area and get all the tests done in 6 months, by Trial Judging at every test session that comes up...  They likely still won't let you finish that fast.  ~2 years seems to be an acceptable number.

Additionally, they made it sound way too political for me, and too much of your progress hinges on you being in line with subjective judges at test sessions.

If someone does a Novice Moves test and you fail them, but the judges were lenient and 2/3rds passed the skater, you get a fail for that test.  And you pretty much have to do more test to make up for that failure.

In the end, it wasn't worth the effort just to [eventually] help the club have a more accessible judge for test sessions.

Lots of paperwork, too... along with some really poor guidance (IMO) on USFS' website.

I can see why other young people would avoid it.

Offline icedancer

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2016, 11:38:59 AM »
Theoretically, judging is easier.  In practice, it isn't.  The guidance for becoming a coach and working up through the system is a lot simpler to follow, and doesn't rely as much on the types of things Trial Judging requires you to do.

From what my Monitor explained to me, Trial Judging requires you to judge <x> amount of tests are all levels for the concentration you're going for (Singles & Pairs, Ice Dance, etc.).  It also involves progression throttling because they won't allow you to progress faster than they think you should be. This means if you have the time, means, and expenses to travel around your area and get all the tests done in 6 months, by Trial Judging at every test session that comes up...  They likely still won't let you finish that fast.  ~2 years seems to be an acceptable number.

Additionally, they made it sound way too political for me, and too much of your progress hinges on you being in line with subjective judges at test sessions.

If someone does a Novice Moves test and you fail them, but the judges were lenient and 2/3rds passed the skater, you get a fail for that test.  And you pretty much have to do more test to make up for that failure.

In the end, it wasn't worth the effort just to [eventually] help the club have a more accessible judge for test sessions.

Lots of paperwork, too... along with some really poor guidance (IMO) on USFS' website.

I can see why other young people would avoid it.

Well, you pretty much hit the nail on the head Nate. 

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2016, 04:15:58 PM »
Nate I tried to PM you but your mailbox is full!

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2016, 06:51:14 AM »
Query, I think this may be relevant -- there are some skater moms who have coached their own children, and these are elite skaters. Kim Yuna was partly coached by her mom, both for on-ice skating and off-ice skating. She has learned purely from the books, I believe, and coaches from the boards. At my rink, we have another skater mom who does that. Whenever he's home from training abroad, she's the one who coaches him.

Perhaps there is a market in your rink for people who know the theory of skating? Just a thought.

Offline amy1984

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2016, 10:57:50 AM »
Query, I think this may be relevant -- there are some skater moms who have coached their own children, and these are elite skaters. Kim Yuna was partly coached by her mom, both for on-ice skating and off-ice skating. She has learned purely from the books, I believe, and coaches from the boards. At my rink, we have another skater mom who does that. Whenever he's home from training abroad, she's the one who coaches him.

Perhaps there is a market in your rink for people who know the theory of skating? Just a thought.

Just wanted to point out that parents coaching from the boards is really frowned upon in North America, where OP is from, so I'm not sure this is the best example.

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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2016, 12:37:30 PM »
Just wanted to point out that parents coaching from the boards is really frowned upon in North America, where OP is from, so I'm not sure this is the best example.

Adding to Amy1984's comment, in the event there are parents reading this, it's not uncommon to see this forbidden in freestyle rules. 
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Re: Is there a place for very low level professional instructors?
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2016, 05:51:50 PM »
I will not teach by theory!

I believe very strongly that you can't teach something if you can't demonstrate it. Which is part of why I stayed away from trying to teach anything I can't do pretty well.

I get that at the top competitive levels, where none of the coaches can do the most difficult things, that theory doesn't work. And I've known people who chose coaches who couldn't demonstrate much anymore. But I personally don't want to try to teach things I can't do well.