Instructor certification ideas

Andrew Green

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Now we're getting deep into the kind of stuff I think instructors should go dig into, but probably isn't part of what I'd require for certification. Students don't expect nutrition advice at most MA schools, though I'd expect them to expect that at a school that's helping them prepare for an athletic event (like fight training). Frankly, it's an odd lack of expectation and desire, but there it is.

I'd say it depends on the school. A school that heavily promotes based on fitness? Yeah, clients might come in expecting that. If a good chunk of your ads talk about weight loss you should probably have some nutrition knowledge and a bit of a fitness background.

Instructor certification is a multi component thing though. They need to know what to teach, nutrition might fall under that. As would curriculum, which nutrition might be a part of depending on your schools focus and what you promise clients.

There is also how to teach, which is just as important. That would cover things like learning styles, how to present material, how to drill, how to work with different age groups, class management, discipline, student evaluations & tracking, etc.

As well as intangible things that aren't really "taught" like personality. Probably the most important piece for a instructor IMO. Anyone can be taught how to do and teach a front kick. Not everyone can be taught how to be a instructor that can influence people in a positive way and build strong relationships of trust and mutual respect with students.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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I'd say it depends on the school. A school that heavily promotes based on fitness? Yeah, clients might come in expecting that. If a good chunk of your ads talk about weight loss you should probably have some nutrition knowledge and a bit of a fitness background.

Instructor certification is a multi component thing though. They need to know what to teach, nutrition might fall under that. As would curriculum, which nutrition might be a part of depending on your schools focus and what you promise clients.

There is also how to teach, which is just as important. That would cover things like learning styles, how to present material, how to drill, how to work with different age groups, class management, discipline, student evaluations & tracking, etc.

As well as intangible things that aren't really "taught" like personality. Probably the most important piece for a instructor IMO. Anyone can be taught how to do and teach a front kick. Not everyone can be taught how to be a instructor that can influence people in a positive way and build strong relationships of trust and mutual respect with students.
Agreed. The point of the instructor certification is to ensure they are reasonably equipped to teach. The "what" should mostly be gathered throughout their own training, plus whatever they decide to add by outside study (for instance, if someone is a trained physical therapist, they'll likely teach some things I don't). The "how" is what I'm concerned with. I've seen too many instructors who didn't really know some of the basics of how people learn and how to make the transfer more efficient and effective.

One note here is that I wouldn't even attempt to cover all the bases. There are many ways to teach and train, and I'd be okay if an instructor used one different from me. But I don't want them going out unequipped for the role, so they get something to start from.

If I were putting together some sort of "instructor university" program, I'd include more information about health, exercise, nutrition, developing confidence, overcoming negative attitude, dealing with parents, and a bunch more. But then I'd need other people to help teach it, and the point of this certification is that another instructor could use it to train more other instructors.
 

Andrew Green

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Agreed. The point of the instructor certification is to ensure they are reasonably equipped to teach.

If you haven't already done so I'd look into some of the others instructors that have such programs available. Dave Kovars's Instructor College is a great program, and you can get his book pretty cheap which would be a good starting point. He also has a online training program that is pretty good. It's all how and not what based, so style doesn't really matter.

The Gracie brothers did the bullyproof program (I think that was the one) that had a really good section aimed at how to teach kids and make corrections that was on youtube as well at one point.

Melody Shuman has some great stuff on kids and teaching to different age groups.

Here (Canada) we have coaching certifications run through the provincial sport organizations. Not really martial arts specific, but I went through the wrestling one and it had some good info, you might have something similar in your area?

But I'd find a starting point in a existing program and go from their, which is what we did.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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If you haven't already done so I'd look into some of the others instructors that have such programs available. Dave Kovars's Instructor College is a great program, and you can get his book pretty cheap which would be a good starting point. He also has a online training program that is pretty good. It's all how and not what based, so style doesn't really matter.

The Gracie brothers did the bullyproof program (I think that was the one) that had a really good section aimed at how to teach kids and make corrections that was on youtube as well at one point.

Melody Shuman has some great stuff on kids and teaching to different age groups.

Here (Canada) we have coaching certifications run through the provincial sport organizations. Not really martial arts specific, but I went through the wrestling one and it had some good info, you might have something similar in your area?

But I'd find a starting point in a existing program and go from their, which is what we did.
Thanks! My existing instructor training curriculum actually starts from some coach training (for coach-based training, based on the analytical method of training) I've done for many years. For my personal purposes, it's probably sufficient, but wouldn't be sufficient (except as something like a 1-day seminar) for training across styles. I'll look into some of the stuff you've mentioned to get some ideas for future development.
 

Bill Mattocks

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As I often do, I'm looking back over my curriculum, and I've come back around to my Instructor certification area. I'm interested in what others think instructors and study group leaders should be required to know, beyond what a student of the same rank needs to know (I've divorced rank from instructorship, though I know that's not common practice).

Here are some of the things on my list:
  • Concussion protocol certification (there are a couple of sources where this can be had for free via online training).
  • Red Cross First Aid certification (I was required to have CPR, and we did some Japanese traditional first aid training, much of which runs counter to current knowledge).
  • Adult learning concepts (for those intending to teach kids, this should include juvenile training concepts).
  • Basic task learning concepts.
There are other requirements (submitting a student for testing by a certified instructor, for instance), but these are the bigger concepts.

What else would you love to see every Instructor learn.

This is very interesting, and I like the way you are thinking of these things. In my dojo, I would have to say none of the above apply, with the exception of the last two, and those more by doing than by specific training.

What I mean is this. I am an adult student, and volunteer my time as a instructor for the kids, under the direct supervision of my sensei. All brown and black belt students in our dojo are asked to help out in some way, but no one is forced to. Some bring in paper towels or bottled water. Some stay late and vacuum and mop the floors. Some pay a bit more than they are required to pay. Some help teach. Etc. I will leave this bit alone, as some object strenuously to the notion of anyone giving anything away for free. Whatever!

What I have learned, and am continuing to learn, as I help to teach the younger students, are (in no particular order) these things:

  • Some students can pay attention, some cannot. And for different periods of time. You have to reach them on the level and to the extent that they can absorb the training. Once they reach their attention span capacity, you have to recognize it and move them on to something else constructive that keeps their minds occupied and still accomplishes the notion of training.
  • Mirror the motions if you are facing the class. If you want them to down block left, you down block right. They will use the arm on the 'same side' you do. They're not into transcribing left and right just yet.
  • Praise. Encourage. Challenge. Find the motivation buttons and do what they need to keep them focused and enjoying their training.
  • If they are very good at a technique, make them teach it to others. If they are very bad at a technique, also make them teach it. In both cases, they will often rise to the challenge and improve.
  • When you see them all doing something odd, check yourself. They are probably imitating what they see in your technique.
  • As soon as they start looking odd, sit them down. They either need to go to the bathroom, need water, or need to sit down and rest for a bit.
  • Don't let siblings stand next to each other.
  • There is no such thing as too much repetition.
  • Games are not time-wasters if there is a martial arts component to it.
  • Kids who are too tired to do kata somehow have the energy to race around the dojo for ten minutes at top speed without being winded.
  • Never let one child strike another in the dojo unless it is under supervision and part of a planned activity.
  • Children with bully tendencies get special attention as soon as it becomes clear that they are or have the tendency to bully. Generally means a discussion with Sensei and perhaps Sensei and parents.
  • Fine motor skills come with age, but it differs between children. Some children simply cannot perform the movements yet, but will get better if they keep attending. You have to learn to be accepting that they're doing what they can and be able to tell the difference between kids who are just phoning it in.
  • If they are on the floor, they need to be doing kata or kihon, even if class hasn't started yet.
  • Kids respect authority by nature. Don't abuse that; make it a positive experience that adults lead and protect, and train and help them. Never refuse a request for assistance.
  • Remember that many years from now, those kids will be adults with families and friends and lives and they will remember you and the training they received. Make sure that memory is a positive one, one they look back at with smiles and laughter. You may consider what you do to be small and not overly meaningful; but it's everything to a child who is neglected, bullied, weaker than others, or lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence. You can be a hero. So be a hero.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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This is very interesting, and I like the way you are thinking of these things. In my dojo, I would have to say none of the above apply, with the exception of the last two, and those more by doing than by specific training.

What I mean is this. I am an adult student, and volunteer my time as a instructor for the kids, under the direct supervision of my sensei. All brown and black belt students in our dojo are asked to help out in some way, but no one is forced to. Some bring in paper towels or bottled water. Some stay late and vacuum and mop the floors. Some pay a bit more than they are required to pay. Some help teach. Etc. I will leave this bit alone, as some object strenuously to the notion of anyone giving anything away for free. Whatever!

What I have learned, and am continuing to learn, as I help to teach the younger students, are (in no particular order) these things:

  • Some students can pay attention, some cannot. And for different periods of time. You have to reach them on the level and to the extent that they can absorb the training. Once they reach their attention span capacity, you have to recognize it and move them on to something else constructive that keeps their minds occupied and still accomplishes the notion of training.
  • Mirror the motions if you are facing the class. If you want them to down block left, you down block right. They will use the arm on the 'same side' you do. They're not into transcribing left and right just yet.
  • Praise. Encourage. Challenge. Find the motivation buttons and do what they need to keep them focused and enjoying their training.
  • If they are very good at a technique, make them teach it to others. If they are very bad at a technique, also make them teach it. In both cases, they will often rise to the challenge and improve.
  • When you see them all doing something odd, check yourself. They are probably imitating what they see in your technique.
  • As soon as they start looking odd, sit them down. They either need to go to the bathroom, need water, or need to sit down and rest for a bit.
  • Don't let siblings stand next to each other.
  • There is no such thing as too much repetition.
  • Games are not time-wasters if there is a martial arts component to it.
  • Kids who are too tired to do kata somehow have the energy to race around the dojo for ten minutes at top speed without being winded.
  • Never let one child strike another in the dojo unless it is under supervision and part of a planned activity.
  • Children with bully tendencies get special attention as soon as it becomes clear that they are or have the tendency to bully. Generally means a discussion with Sensei and perhaps Sensei and parents.
  • Fine motor skills come with age, but it differs between children. Some children simply cannot perform the movements yet, but will get better if they keep attending. You have to learn to be accepting that they're doing what they can and be able to tell the difference between kids who are just phoning it in.
  • If they are on the floor, they need to be doing kata or kihon, even if class hasn't started yet.
  • Kids respect authority by nature. Don't abuse that; make it a positive experience that adults lead and protect, and train and help them. Never refuse a request for assistance.
  • Remember that many years from now, those kids will be adults with families and friends and lives and they will remember you and the training they received. Make sure that memory is a positive one, one they look back at with smiles and laughter. You may consider what you do to be small and not overly meaningful; but it's everything to a child who is neglected, bullied, weaker than others, or lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence. You can be a hero. So be a hero.
A lot of really good points - mostly about dealing with kids. When you say the things I mentioned don't apply, do you mean they aren't covered? If so, that's not at all unusual. Some of that was part of my training in MA, but most of it wasn't.
 

Bill Mattocks

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A lot of really good points - mostly about dealing with kids. When you say the things I mentioned don't apply, do you mean they aren't covered? If so, that's not at all unusual. Some of that was part of my training in MA, but most of it wasn't.

Right, I meant we don't cover it. We have instructors who are EMTs in their day jobs (actually a bunch of them) and one guy who is a highly qualified physical therapist, but we don't teach or require and first-aid stuff. I can definitely see it as being a good idea. We have had students with peanut allergies and asthma and so on, it would be very good to know these things. I have been certified by the Red Cross in CPR at various times, but not for a long time now. I got basic training in the military as well, but probably won't be facing any sucking chest wounds in the dojo, I would imagine (and hope).
 
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Right, I meant we don't cover it. We have instructors who are EMTs in their day jobs (actually a bunch of them) and one guy who is a highly qualified physical therapist, but we don't teach or require and first-aid stuff. I can definitely see it as being a good idea. We have had students with peanut allergies and asthma and so on, it would be very good to know these things. I have been certified by the Red Cross in CPR at various times, but not for a long time now. I got basic training in the military as well, but probably won't be facing any sucking chest wounds in the dojo, I would imagine (and hope).
That's pretty common. And I can't see any reason to require someone in a related profession to get that specific certification (like one of my students who is a physical therapist), if they assert their professional training covers the topics. The same would be true for the task training and adult learning segments, if someone was professionally trained in those areas (adult educator, perhaps).
 

Bill Mattocks

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A lot of really good points - mostly about dealing with kids. When you say the things I mentioned don't apply, do you mean they aren't covered? If so, that's not at all unusual. Some of that was part of my training in MA, but most of it wasn't.

Also, as to adult training - requires a different skill set. When I help out with the new adult students, it's more about the art. Stance, movement, relax, breathe, balance, and then the specifics of the particular thing being done. I usually don't have to worry about an adult's attention flagging, but they mostly walk and punch like robots at first!
 
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Gerry Seymour

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Also, as to adult training - requires a different skill set. When I help out with the new adult students, it's more about the art. Stance, movement, relax, breathe, balance, and then the specifics of the particular thing being done. I usually don't have to worry about an adult's attention flagging, but they mostly walk and punch like robots at first!
Agreed. There's a reason I choose to only teach adults right now. I find kids maddening to work with, no matter how much I like them.
 

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You mentioned concussions. In NYs, all school k-12 coaches must complete this course. It's offered for free by the CDC. It may be what you're looking for...
HEADS UP to Youth Sports: Online Training | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center

I was a Red Cross CPR/FA instructor. Lay responder first aid is pretty much a waste of time IMO. For chief instructors and instructors who'll be alone, I'd require Red Cross Responding To Emergencies. It's a longer and significantly more expensive course, but it's worth it. I'm pretty sure NYs coaches are required to be certified in that too.

The Red Cross charges quite a bit for the training. Ask your students if they know anyone who's an instructor. Quite often LEOs, EMTs, PTs, ATCs, etc. will he instructors. Their workplaces usually have one or two on staff to recertify the employees to save time and money. If you don't know anyone with those credentials, call your local police or fire department and ask if they have an instructor on staff who'd be willing to teach it outside of work hours.

Regarding AED, I don't know anyone who teaches CPR without it. I think technically one could, but I think pretty much everyone includes it because it's pretty simple, quick, reinforces CPR, and doesn't cost much more if it all.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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You mentioned concussions. In NYs, all school k-12 coaches must complete this course. It's offered for free by the CDC. It may be what you're looking for...
HEADS UP to Youth Sports: Online Training | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center
That's the one I had in mind. Someone on MT (perhaps even you) suggested it a while back.

I was a Red Cross CPR/FA instructor. Lay responder first aid is pretty much a waste of time IMO. For chief instructors and instructors who'll be alone, I'd require Red Cross Responding To Emergencies. It's a longer and significantly more expensive course, but it's worth it. I'm pretty sure NYs coaches are required to be certified in that too.

The Red Cross charges quite a bit for the training. Ask your students if they know anyone who's an instructor. Quite often LEOs, EMTs, PTs, ATCs, etc. will he instructors. Their workplaces usually have one or two on staff to recertify the employees to save time and money. If you don't know anyone with those credentials, call your local police or fire department and ask if they have an instructor on staff who'd be willing to teach it outside of work hours.

Regarding AED, I don't know anyone who teaches CPR without it. I think technically one could, but I think pretty much everyone includes it because it's pretty simple, quick, reinforces CPR, and doesn't cost much more if it all.

Thanks for all that. The First Aid is pretty thin; I chose it as a bottom point, equivalent to what I was required to learn. The price and time were the main reasons for not going for the Responding to Emergencies (25 years ago, I think they called it Emergency Responder). If I can get a few people together at once, I might be able to make it more affordable for folks, with that intel.
 

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That's the one I had in mind. Someone on MT (perhaps even you) suggested it a while back.


Thanks for all that. The First Aid is pretty thin; I chose it as a bottom point, equivalent to what I was required to learn. The price and time were the main reasons for not going for the Responding to Emergencies (25 years ago, I think they called it Emergency Responder). If I can get a few people together at once, I might be able to make it more affordable for folks, with that intel.

RTE is a difficult sell because the price and duration of the course. I wouldn't require everyone who teaches complete the class, but I'd probably require it for a CI and someone who regularly teaches alone. But if they're a health care professional, they should be exempt.

I think my former CI was required to have RTE or an equivalent for his insurance. It just makes sense... lay responder FA pretty much teaches making slings, tying feet together, putting on bandaids, etc. I always sat through that course thinking what a waste of time and money. But I guess it protects people liability-wise.
 

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As I often do, I'm looking back over my curriculum, and I've come back around to my Instructor certification area. I'm interested in what others think instructors and study group leaders should be required to know, beyond what a student of the same rank needs to know (I've divorced rank from instructorship, though I know that's not common practice).

Here are some of the things on my list:
  • Concussion protocol certification (there are a couple of sources where this can be had for free via online training).
  • Red Cross First Aid certification (I was required to have CPR, and we did some Japanese traditional first aid training, much of which runs counter to current knowledge).
  • Adult learning concepts (for those intending to teach kids, this should include juvenile training concepts).
  • Basic task learning concepts.
There are other requirements (submitting a student for testing by a certified instructor, for instance), but these are the bigger concepts.

What else would you love to see every Instructor learn.
Know the material needed to be taught. Be able to teach it.

That's it.

How much of the other stuff you're looking at was Cus D'Amato "certified" in?

If you want your instructors to be certified in other stuff, well and fine. But they're not actually required to be able to teach.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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Gerry Seymour

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Know the material needed to be taught. Be able to teach it.

That's it.

How much of the other stuff you're looking at was Cus D'Amato "certified" in?

If you want your instructors to be certified in other stuff, well and fine. But they're not actually required to be able to teach.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
The point of developing a program for instructor training is that too many instructors don't know the basics of instructing. The "certification" is as an instructor in my curriculum, not necessarily in the individual pieces (though some of them, the easiest approach is an external certification).
 

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The point of developing a program for instructor training is that too many instructors don't know the basics of instructing. The "certification" is as an instructor in my curriculum, not necessarily in the individual pieces (though some of them, the easiest approach is an external certification).
It's hard to teach people how to teach and the certs you listed, such as first aid, have limited-to-no relationship to teaching.

Besides knowing how to perform a technique, demonstrate the important elements, and what/how/when to correct elements, there are a lot of other stuff that's more important.

How to develop a lesson plan for each session, I've found, is vastly more important to being able to teach than fundamentals of adult education. Make a lesson plan. Make an outline. Know when to delve down into details and when you've gone too far into the weeds. Know how to relate training to previous experience. Etc.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
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Gerry Seymour

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It's hard to teach people how to teach
It's not that difficult to teach them a few basics of task training (what we are really doing). I do it all the time with folks in business environments. It won't necessarily make them great teachers, but it gives them some basic tools and skills to be competent.

and the certs you listed, such as first aid, have limited-to-no relationship to teaching.
Agreed. Those other bits have more to do with being an instructor/responsible party in physical training.

Besides knowing how to perform a technique, demonstrate the important elements, and what/how/when to correct elements, there are a lot of other stuff that's more important.

How to develop a lesson plan for each session, I've found, is vastly more important to being able to teach than fundamentals of adult education. Make a lesson plan. Make an outline. Know when to delve down into details and when you've gone too far into the weeds. Know how to relate training to previous experience. Etc.
Ah. I think you've misunderstood part of the training. They aren't being trained to teach the fundamentals of adult education. They are being taught some fundamental concepts to improve their teaching (adults learn better when they understand the context before seeing the training, for example). The things you're talking about are among the fundamentals of adult education that would be covered. That's the point of the instructor training program.
 

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Looks like a good idea. I haven't read everything as I am busy at work and at home for a bit. But a couple of quick ideas.

Have you considered if there is an ISO or IATF standard for instructors, especially MA instructors? If not would you consider working under them to begin one?

Have you considered if there are any legal ramifications to having 'certified' instructors? It could be good or bad or both. If you have no certifications, or the certified instructor standards aren't followed and someone is hurt or killed, would you, the instructor, or your school be more or less liable if your instructors are certified, especially by an international organization?

Will the head of the school be certified as an instructor, and if so, able to teach assistant instructors, and where does the head of the school get his certification to teach?

Will recertification be required at certain intervals? By whom? Who pays for all the certification and recertification?

[{[{[{ I have taught in the military, in the government, as an adjunct professor, and as a head of a Hapkido dojang/club, under the distant auspices of my GM.

You would be glad to have me as an instructor in Hapkido. ;)

But I tell you I am proven good and I am experienced, and would be insulted to have to acquire you instructor certification. You don't want to lose me, but what will you do? }]}]}

Me personally, I prefer the old school. When I studied Tae Kwon Do, and Hapkido, higher belts who proved their grasp of the lower level (or they wouldn't have been promoted) were often used to teach. They were of course watched by the GM, so if needed, he could correct a mistake in the teaching. But they taught.

Even so, I like the idea you have raised. Certifications are getting to be the thing in a lot of areas, maybe it is time for martial arts to do it. But I just thought it might be useful to throw in a few things for consideration.
 
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