We've been talking about proper behavior in private lessons for coaches and kids (although not so much parents--stay tuned!)
But the vast majority of skaters don't take private lessons. They skate in classes and on public ice. So what are some etiquette pitfalls to avoid for classes? What are common missteps on the part of all parties?
Arrive on time
Especially at rinks where several class levels do a joint warm up, there can be a tendency on the part of coaches to think that they can just wander in when the "real" class begins. And to some extent it's true. The skaters will not have a demonstrably worse experience if one of the coaches isn't there. But you better believe that the coaches who make the effort to be on time for, and to run, the warm up are silently fuming about your arrogance and lack of professionalism. Further, if you are off the ice because you're out in the stands soliciting privates and generally shmoozing the parents you'll be lucky not to find your tires slashed.
I don't even have words for coaches who arrive so late that they miss part of the actual class session. Oh, wait, sure I do. Arrogant. Disruptive. Unprofessional. Childish. Rude. (And, with any luck, Fired)
Be part of the warm up
Don't stand on the boards gossiping while someone else does all the heavy lifting
Treat your students, and their families, like they matter
Seriously? You can't learn the names of 15 kids in 8 weeks? Here's a clue--take attendance. Greet the parents at least a couple of times during the session, even if you're sure they aren't going to take privates. And, hello. Can we stop with the racist asides? "Oh they're East Asian. Why do these people even try, they don't know how to skate." (actual quote) How about not telling adolescent girls they're too fat to skate? (Another true story). Here's a good one--everyone in class paid the same price. Not just your students. Not just the "good" students. Everyone is entitled to instruction.
Stay in your area
Know where on the ice your class meets. Make sure your kids stay in their area and don't wander into the neighboring class. Use traffic patterns that keep everyone safe, moving, and engaged.
Arrive on time
It is no less arrogant and disruptive for the students to be late than for the instructors. If I see you sitting in the lobby and you can't be bothered to get on the ice for the beginning of the warm up, I shouldn't even let you into the class. Now, sometimes the kids don't have control over this; if your parent or your school makes you late, call the rink and ask them to inform the coach. (Seriously) If you can't, then apologize to the coach and the class when you do get there.
Be part of the warm up
Aside from being important for health reasons, it is simply rude to consider yourself above any part of the instruction. If you're not going to participate, please don't come.
Be respectful of the coaches
You are the student. Your opinion on technique, choreography, class management (except in the case of a violation of #3, above) is not salient to the moment. If you have a serious disagreement, bring it up, respectfully, outside of class, and in a way that does not challenge the coach's professional authority. This means not whining to your mother because the coach told you that your language or dress was inappropriate (you can tell I'm talking about teens here).
For younger students, the ice class should be treated like a classroom. This means no wandering off without permission, engaging in the activity presented, and no talking when the coach is talking. You know, all that "everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten" stuff.
Share the ice
Especially in the warm up, remember that this is class, not Sunday afternoon public skate. This means you're warming up, not socializing. No hotdogging. No getting on and off. No food. No gum. Watch out for the little guys and the beginners.
Arrive on time
Sigh. And don't sign up for a class that you know you will be habitually late for, or absent from. This is not rocket science.
Don't be part of the warm up
Sit down. Take a load off. Better yet, help keep the rink open by going out to the snack bar and spending some money. Do not under any circumstances stand by the glass, or worse yet in the door shouting at your child. If your child is too young to handle a class without you standing right there, then they are not ready to be in class. I have had parents stand in the door yelling at their child to pay attention to me. Well, they would be, if you weren't standing in the door yelling at them.
Let the coach be the coach
Don't tell them how to do their job. Don't tell them what your child is like*, don't assume miracles the first day. Accept evaluations; please don't go to a different coach for an evaluation if you don't like the outcome from the class coach. This undermines the coach among his colleagues and teaches the child a very bad lesson. Plus, it will give you a rep that you don't want.
Please please please please tell the coach if your child has been diagnosed with a special need. Tell the coach exactly what it is, but don't expect a class coach to be an occupational therapist. If there are specific physical, pedagogical or therapeutic needs then this needs to be shared and dealt with before the child steps on the ice. Municipal rinks are generally required to provide an aide for special needs kids, and some coaches, like me, welcome and are trained for them. But we need to know upfront to optimize the experience, not only for your child, but for every child in the class.
On the other hand, do NOT tell the coach this unless you have a medical diagnosis.
I know your child is special. They're all really special. Good manners helps everyone honor that.