Nov 1, 2011

Master Rating in Recreational Skating and Beginners

No, there isn't one.

But there should be.

I've been struggling ever since I received my Senior Rating in Group Instruction from the Professional Skaters Association, about whether I should continue to the Master Rating.

There are compelling reasons why I should: personal satisfaction, confirmation of the levels I've achieved, the necessity to really stretch myself and my abilities in order to achieve that level.

But there are equally compelling reasons to stop at the Senior Level. Senior Group takes you through Freestyle 4/PreJuv Moves skills, which is also the level up to which I've taught a lot. At FS 5 and up I simply haven't had the face time that gives you glib comfort with the teaching techniques (and you need to be on point and very very glib and articulate at the Master exam). Part of this is cultural--most rinks operate on a seniority level, and I don't have the seniority to get assignment to these classes. Because I never tested these levels, to qualify for the rating I need to have a minimum number of hours teaching them. Some rink managers, supporting my desire to increase my skating knowledge and teaching ability, might be inclined to help me out by assigning these classes, but on the other hand, they have no obligation to accommodate my unusual needs when there are plenty of already-qualified instructors at hand.

Further, I don't really want to teach FS5 and up. It's neither my interest nor my strength. And in order to take the rating, I need to teach these higher levels, which would reduce the teaching time I'm able to devote to my first love: the beginners.

However, that Master Group rating is really the only Master level available to me. There are no other PSA Master levels that make sense for either my teaching goals or my personal satisfaction, or that I could qualify for based on my test history or students.

So where do I go?

I would like to propose the Master Rating in Recreational Skating and Beginners. This would encompass private and group instruction, some program director skills, knowledge of equipment and promotion, as well as some child psychology and pedagogy. It would cover all low disciplines: tots, learn-to-skate (thru the equivalent of USFS FS5), low dance, beginning hockey (including rules of play), low couples, speed skating, and team skating like synchro and show numbers. It would encompass both group and private instruction.

In other words, all the types of classes you would find filled at a typical recreational program.

To qualify for this you would need ratings up to the Senior level in two other disciplines, of which one must be one of the group disciplines (i.e. Registered Moves plus Senior Group, or Certified Group plus Certified FS or Senior Synchro plus Certified Choreo). The rating would have just two levels--Senior and Master.

There is a pervasive attitude among figure skating professionals that if you don't teach the highest levels, you aren't a good coach, or a "real" coach. This would be understandable if skating was like other youth sports, where parent volunteers make up most of the beginning coaching cadre, some with no training or credential other than that they played themselves as kids. But figure skating programs pride themselves on having professional staffs.

Since the vast majority of skaters are in the recreational and beginning levels, wouldn't it make sense to have a Master rating specializing in this? And in case anyone from the PSA is reading this, I would be thrilled to serve on the committee developing it.

Do you feel that a coach's PSA rating, and the discipline in which they are rated, makes a difference to their teaching and to your program?

1 comment:

  1. From my perspective as an adult skater, I don't get that excited about PSA ratings. They are one piece in the decision, but probably not the most important piece.

    The one thing that they tell me that is important to me is how committed the coach is to coaching as a profession. This is more important (IMHO) in a younger or less experienced coach than in one who's been coaching 10+ years.

    The other things I look at are (in no particular order) -- the way coach relates to his/her skaters (demeanor, etc.); test levels achieved by the coach; what levels the coach is teaching; availability at the times I want or can work into my schedule; and most importantly the vibe or connection I get with the coach during our trial lesson.