There is no standard curriculum for private lessons, of course. You proceed according to the skater's needs and goals. But individual coaches do fall into categories, and you can spot the differences from the stands, by style, if not by outcome.
Some coaches have a standard lesson plan that they follow with every skater. Call them the planners. Others like to have an outcome in mind and build toward that by increments or leaps (the spanners?). There are coaches who are really good at some single skills-- jumps or gliding maneuvers or spins-- and will focus on those things (the fanners!). Some will be a little more fluid and see what happens lesson to lesson (oh, let's call them the xanners, just for sh*ts and giggles).
Every lesson follows the same pattern, for instance: 10 minutes of moves warm up with technique secondary and the focus on power, building endurance, and ice coverage; 5 minutes of jump drills like back-scratch to loop, one foot hops, check-position drills; run through jumps up to highest mastered, then do some number of repetitions of the most solid jump, and then some number of repetitions of your problem jump. Program run through, then finish with spins. Every lesson will follow this plan.
The pros: The student knows exactly what to expect from every lesson, so the coach focuses on quick, targeted comments and spends no time laying out the lesson plan. The mystique is removed from the difficult move, because it's just part of the plan. The goal here is not to finally get the jump, but simply to move through the familiar lesson. The skater has a fair amount of autonomy with this plan. These kids are always moving, which looks really good to the parents in the stands. It's a great way to run freestyle group lessons, especially where there's a wide range of age, talent or ability.
The cons: It is tempting for the coach to check out, because no one is pushing the envelope. This plan works best mid pre-season, when new things are already solidifying and the pressure is least. In some ways, this is not a lesson; it's more of a supervised practice. The skater is not getting a lot of specific technical advice. Students under this sort of tutelage run the risk of then putting their unsupervised practice on automatic pilot, and feeling like they've accomplished something simply by completing the lesson plan, without actually working on anything other than moving from item to item.
These coaches develop strong camaraderie with and among their students, and solid, workaday skaters.
This coach knows exactly what should be mastered by when, and will step up the intensity on a given problem area, or focus area to stay with the calendar he or she has set. Not only the lesson content, but the pedagogical approach and the lesson attitude may be wildly different from week to week or even lesson to lesson with this sort of coaching.
The pros: this coach is intensely engaged in the student's progress, and will be able to zero in on problem areas while letting solid parts of the skill and program work themselves out. A coach who follows a span of progress spends a lot of off-ice time working out lesson plans. You will be able to track progress easily; further it allows both coach and student to know when to abandon something that isn't working.
The cons: the skater gets very little autonomy with a coach like this, and parent input is unheard of. Skaters will spend a lot of time at the boards getting instruction, because each lesson is different. Parents can misinterpret this as "hanging around at the boards." This coach is also likely to work either on many different things, or intensely at a geek level on one thing in a lesson, making it hard for parents in the stands to keep track of what's going on.
In my observation, these are the coaches with the champions.
Fanners (because they're fans of one skill) will have kids who are absolutely fantastic at, for instance, spins or spirals. They'll spend a lot of time helping their kids perfect these skills, and will revert to Planner-type lessons for other skills.
The pros: The favored skill will be brilliant, and especially at the lower levels of competition, one brilliant skill will often catapult a mediocre skater up the ranks. Kids get a huge burst of confidence from their mastery of this skill, which colors their approach to everything else. Huge bragging rights to the parents of these kids-- "did you see that spiral! She's only 6!"
The cons: These coaches sometimes neglect other skills, and especially basic skating like stroking and crossovers. The skaters can't do anything else, or don't do other skills up to par. You'll get sloppy or heedless skating with this one flash of brilliance. If your skater doesn't naturally excel at the selected skill, she'll have a difficult time with this coach.
These coaches will often be seen teaching the skill to other coach's skaters, having developed a specialty niche.
This coach has a general idea about what the skater is learning (Alpha, Basic 7, axel, etc.) but will move through the lesson more at seeming random, adjusting the intensity and type of exercise to a skater's current mood, and introducing new skills by feel.
The pros: this approach is very skater-friendly and puts the students in more control than other types of lesson plans. It focuses on building confidence and love of the sport, rather than on specific outcomes. These coaches will fix a problem area before they move on. Kids in these types of lessons will understand exactly what they're doing wrong or right, because it's been broken down very specifically for their idiosyncratic issues. I have it on good authority that coaches like taking on students who have been taught under this type of plan.
The cons: this type of coaching will not work for competitive or even test-track skaters, and is more recreational. Skaters with these coaches may take longer to move through the levels, because the coach wants them absolutely solid before they pass up.
These are the skaters with the smiles on their faces.
What type of coach do you have?
(If you make up another type, by the way, it has to rhyme!)
(If you make up another type, by the way, it has to rhyme!)