Can You Help This Mom: When to Switch Figure Skating Coaches
My general question is how do you know if its time to change coaches?
My daughter is seven and is currently in the FreeSkate level of the USFSA curriculum. She has been taking private lessons from IceCoachA for almost two years, starting when she was in the early Basics with one lesson per week and gradually adding more as she progressed. IceCoachA has traditionally been a cheerleader, generous with compliments, and pretty quick to move my IceGirl though the levels. IceCoachA is generally thought of as more of a beginners level coach, but she is married to someone who is generally acknowledged to be the best coach at the rink (he has taken kids to Junior Nationals). Ill call him IceCoachB.
About six months ago, IceCoachA began complaining that IceGirl wasnt progressing as much as she should. IceCoachA suddenly seemed to become very competitive and grumpy. She recommended that IceGirl pick up some lessons with IceCoachB. We and IceGirl know IceCoachB quite well and were happy to do that. IceCoachB is very picky and very serious, which is nice in some ways. It has made IceGirl step up as she really wants to please IceCoachB. Now IceGirl is taking from both A & B (for about six months), but has seemed to become a little stagnant per the IceCoaches.
It is difficult to provide all the background in a forum like this, but I am interested in perspectives on what may make a child become stagnant. Here are some of my thoughts and questions:
* IceGirl attitude: IceGirl herself still loves skating and wants to progress. Her only complaint is that she feels a little bored her practice routine hasnt changed in months and she doesnt feel that she is progressing into learning new moves as quickly as she would like. She wants to work on her PrePre moves, finish her single jumps, get her camel spin perfected, etc. I can see that she probably isnt practicing her current moves with much passion, which is one possible factor.
*Two Coaches, one very progressive, one very picky: IceCoachB seems to have a higher standard for passing, which could be a factor. Perhaps IceGirl needs to get more solid on some of her foundational moves that IceCoachA already passed her on.
* IceGirls age: Perhaps young IceGirl has moved into a set of elements that are just harder and it is natural to experience some slow down in progression.
* Time for a change? This is my big question. IMHO, I think we need to be done with IceCoachA. I think it is hard to have two coaches teaching the same thing. I understand if one was teaching moves, one freeskate, etc. But they sort of co-teach, and IceCoachB corrects IceCoachA, so I have begun to wonder what I am paying IceCoachA for, especially since she is no longer cheery and full of positive energy. But considering IceGirls young age, should we also be done with serious, picky IceCoachB? Is there any merit to moving to a fresh relationship? Would it possibly energize and motivate IceGirl?
Any insights are appreciated. I realize that there is much going on in the dynamics of things that I cant explain here, but any feedback would be helpful.
Great questions, SouthernIceMom. I am just a skating mom, Im not a figure skating expert. I cant tell you which coach has good skills and which one doesnt. For that, I turn to my own skater.
Howevever, I am a teacher and an education writer (promotion! editorial director Oooh.). I talk to big names in education and ed psychology. I read everything. I also know what worked in my classroom.
Personal connection.Im telling you: The single most important factor in a students success with a teacher is NOT the teachers knowledge/skills, is NOT the teachers organization, and is NOT the teachers feedback for the student. THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR is the PERSONAL CONNECTION between the teacher and student.
The connection between the teacher and the student is the foundation for learning. A student will work hard for a teacher she respects, for a teacher who pushes her, for a teacher who offers appropriate, targeted praise. Students will overcome all kinds of instructional deficiencies and seek to improve, sometimes despite an inadequate teacher.
However, the reverse is also true. If a student and teacher have not established or have lost that personal connection, the student will not work as hard, become disinterested, and disengage.
Tolerating a mildly bad situation. I read something recently; Im not sure where, though. Anyway, the upshot is this: the worst thing a person can do is work at a job they tolerate or kind of hate. A person in this kind of job will sit in her tolerable cubicle and mildly hate her job for years.
The blogger wrote that its better to hate your job. Really, really hate it. If you hate it, if youre uncomfortable, youll take steps to make your situation better. Youll search the want ads, knock on doors, and network your butt off until you find a job that you like better. Maybe way better.
Of course, the best situation is to be in a job you love.
I think that this idea can be applied to many situations, not just the work environment. How many times do we just tolerate a situation or a relationship instead of working to make it better? Its a lot of effort to make things better and if were not very, very uncomfortable, its easier to just grab the remote, pop open a soda, and tune out whatevers bothering us.
Should she change coaches? Well, Im not sure. SouthernIceMom, if you think that connection is no longer present, it probably isnt. If its gone, Id switch coaches. Its not easy, but its probably whats best for your skater and, really, whats best for your wallet. Shell learn more from someone with whom she has a connection. It might take a while to find that person, but when you do, hold on to that coach with both hands. Nurture and encourage that relationship. And pay your bill on time.