Jun 26, 2013

Ain't Misbehavin'

As far as I'm concerned there are no bad kids, there are only mismatched (I won't say bad) teachers.

Any group of children, even one with no behavior issues, is hard to manage and control. As I mentioned in a previous post, a 16 to 1 student teacher ratio is not unheard of in a skating class, and there are no chairs to put them in so they stand still. On skates, you can move and a lot of kids really really want to.



Especially boys.

If you luck into a Learn to Skate level class with a lot of sweet girls who stand and listen when you speak, hooray. It does happen, but it's pretty rare.

More common are classes where about half to 2/3s are kids who can focus and stand still even on the ice. The rest of the kids will be what I call noodles (no muscle control), exploding brains (Must. Say. All. Words. Constantly.) and astronauts-- they're in outer space. You have to radio them to get their attention. "Earth to Suzy! Come in Suzy!"

I recently watched a coach explain at length how to create beautiful stroking using the entire blade and stretching then pointing the toe to create power, grace and line. It was a brilliant description of the art of stroking.

Delivered in monotone, with no eye contact, to a group of 8 year olds.

Who all wanted to just watch the tots next door playing some sort of boisterous and obviously engaging game.

I've seen sweet young coaches make kids stand still for 5 or 6 minutes while taking attendance. Five or six minutes is an eternity in a skating class, especially for a child with what I call the "exploding brain"-- they cannot stand still. Cannot. Not "will not." Not "don't want to." They Cannot Stand Still.

Don't make them. Let them move. Give them something to do that isn't "oka-ay. Let's do one foot glides. Oka-ay. Let's do that again. Now lets do swizzles! I'm not going to offer any specific advice for those of you struggling with this, we're just going to keep going back and forth until Xan claws her eyeballs out!"

Like the trope says, you don't teach the skating class you wish you had, you teach the skating class you get. If you get one with an astronaut, two noodles, an exploding brain and a kid with oppositional defiant disorder, you better have strategies ready to keep that class engaging for all of them.

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