There are many Governors and Masters who are accustomed to conducting pre-certification workshops. However a new Master or BOG can find themselves at a loss when presented with the task.
There are no specifics about what must be included in the workshop. The structure and content are left to the discretion of the presenter. This can be a mixed blessing as each presenter has the opportunity to contribute something special, unique and original. On the other hand, the lack of guidelines leaves many at a loss.
The following is a distillation of insights, suggestions and thoughts from a number of governors concerning pre-certification workshops. It is hoped that these will provide guidance and food for thought to those who are preparing to conduct a pre-certification workshop.
The Challenges to the Presenter
Pre-certification workshops are often a part of, or given in conjunction with a conclave or fly fishing show. The amount of time available may be quite limited, often as little as an hour. In these circumstances, the CI testing immediately follows the pre-certification workshop and leaves little time for the presenter and the candidate to do much more than discuss what is happening and when. Many candidates are anxious about the testing and it may be unrealistic to expect them to be fully tuned in to the content of what is presented. Keeping this in mind, the quality of what is presented is more important than the quantity.
It should be noted that some Governors are conducting pre-certification workshops on a day other than the day of the testing. The pre-certification workshop is often given the day before the testing while other Governors are conducting workshops a month or more before the certification testing. If practical, there are advantages to conducting the pre-certification workshop well in advance of the testing. These workshops are ideal as they permit more thorough coverage of appropriate material. In addition, since the actual testing is not imminent, the candidates may be more fully tuned in to the content of the workshop.
Most important, if the workshop is held well in advance of the testing there can be an evaluation of the candidate’s knowledge and skills. If some improvement is needed, the candidate can be told what needs to be improved and they have an opportunity to make the necessary improvement. This may well result in a higher success rate of those testing.
The following are goals that may be appropriate for a workshop:
1. Provide candidates with advice on how to approach the test in order to meet the expectations of the Testers. Suggestions such as the following may be appropriate:
The written test. Look for the most reasonable and logical answer. If there is not a perfect answer, select the best answer.
The performance test. Consistency is important; it is better to cast consistent two-foot loops than one-foot loops that occasionally tail. The obvious presence of a smooth ‘teaching’ cast. This cast looks the same on the forward cast and the back cast – a slowed down cast that is often the student’s first visual of fly-casting. This is in direct contrast to the fishing cast.
Explain and demonstrate. Clarify if the candidate should respond to questions as if he or she was responding to a student or to a tester.
2. Put the candidates at ease.
3. Make the workshop and the entire testing a positive learning experience. Have a plan on how to deal with those who do not pass the testing.
Be candid with the candidates; tell them that historically about half do not pass the test on the first attempt. Let them know, however, that they will gain from the experience and it will better prepare them to re-test.
Encourage those who do not pass to remain in attendance and to go through a practice performance testing.
- Those who do not pass should be specifically advised as to why they failed and how to correct any deficiency.
- Have an individual meeting with each person who failed (either the written or performance) and provide guidance about how to improve and prepare for a retest. Encourage them to contact you or others on the testing team if they have any questions about preparing for a retest.
Have an excellent set of handouts to distribute. Handouts and recommended reading lists are of increased importance when facing time constraints and there is inadequate time to cover appropriate subject matter.
Handouts on How to Teach and What to Teach are very helpful.
Content is Key
The presenter should give careful thought to the content of the workshop. Take into account the amount of time that is available, the anxieties of the candidates and the talents of the presenter. A presenter should decide what would most benefit the candidates at this point.
Quite often a presenter can simply ask if the candidates have any questions or subject matter that they would like to discuss. The answering of the candidates’ questions may take the bulk of the workshop. This approach may help a number of the candidates gain a clearer understanding about a number of uncertainties.
Topics that a presenter may wish to consider may include:
A brief history and the objective of the CICP.
The obligations of a FFF Certified Instructor
Characteristics of a good teacher
How to prepare a lesson plan
The learning pyramid
The Difference between style and substance
The essentials of good casting
The six step approach to identifying and correcting casting problems
How to prepare a workshop
A toolbox of sample cures
The presenter should remember that it is not the quantity of material that is important but the quality that is most important. If the time allotted for the workshop is limited, it may be wise to select one or two topics and cover them thoroughly, leaving sufficient time for questions and answers.
If there is more time available for the workshop, and if testing is not scheduled for immediately after the workshop, then much more time and detail can be given. This type of workshop would permit the presentation of multiple topics to candidates who, without the pressure of a pending test, are able to more completely focus and assimilate the material.