Aug 17, 2010

PACE Day One

PACE: Professional Accreditation and Certifying Education, affectionately known as Practice Answering Concisely and Efficiently, is a PSA education event held in three different regions of the US every year. Unlike most coaching seminars and workshops, PACE specifically teaches you how to take oral ratings exams, rather than offering up coaching advice or technique (although you get some of that, too). This is my fifth trip to PACE, and so far it's one of the better ones I've been to.

To get rated, or credentialed, by the PSA, a coach goes through a series of exams from the Basic Accreditation (a written test) to Registered (the lowest oral exam) to Master (the highest) in any one (or more) of a dozen disciplines. I'm working toward my Master Group rating (currently hold Senior, the third of the four levels). Eventually I'd like to have the Master Group, plus a Registered Free Skate and Certified Moves in the Field.

The first time I came to PACE I did not get the whole "teaching the test" thing. I went looking for coaching tips. You get these at PACE, but that's not what it's for. PACE is where you practice answering coaching questions in front of the people who are going to be your ratings examiners. It's not the place to show off, to get creative, to hide in corners or to pretend you know more than you do. Show your strengths and your weaknesses, let the chips fall where they may, and learn confidence in a pressure situation like an oral exam.

The second time I went to PACE I met two of my group coaching mentors, Jan Tremer and Angie Riviello. It was their encouragement that helped me get over my self-doubt about whether I should even be a skating coach, and their guidance that helped me earn the Senior level rating.

And it really is all about the faculty at PACE. Last year I left early the second day, because the faculty's agenda seemed to be to belittle the students. It was so counterproductive that I actually decided to give up on the ratings, because I just couldn't imagine putting myself through the humiliation I experienced at the event.

Fortunately, I decided not to let the turkeys get me down, because this year the faculty is outstanding. Angie's there, and national dance coach Sandy Lamb, as well as national coach Tracy Poletis, PSA executive Carol Rossignol, and Olympic choreographer Scott Brown. The event was organized by another coaching mentor, Craig Bodoh.

I've attended sessions on Choreography (scary and hard!); a "draw" class, where you put pen to paper and literally draw the imprint of each Moves pattern, jump, and spin (I'm really good at this); two Group sessions (where I naturally completely and idiotically blew the first question I was asked!); and both a Certified and a Registered Moves session. I asked to be allowed just to audit the Certified one, which Sandy kindly acquiesced, but I went ahead and participated in the Registered, where I accounted myself just fine. I should remember that I actually do know how to do this and not to sell myself short.

Which is why you go to PACE. To learn confidence in your knowledge and the ability to share it, verbally, as well as you share it every day with your students on the ice.

I'll try to write up tomorrow's sessions as well but it's a 10 hour day with a 1 1/2 hour drive at either end, starting before 6 a.m., so we'll see.

Coaches-- have you been to PACE or other PSA seminars? Let us know your experience.

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