Spotlight on Officiating: Education Meets WFTDA Officiating Education
by Catherine Beat-Her Bonez
Welcome to the third edition of Education Meets. We are still shining a spotlight on officiating, and for this, I have been talking to the WFTDA Officiating Education Committee (OffEd). OffEd just released new advanced online lessons for the Certification Program, while preparing for the Clinic-in-a-box at RollerCon. Today we are taking some time to understand this project and talking to the committee members who have been working hard on these new lessons.
- Aggie Battery, Tallahassee Rollergirls
- Connie, Perth Roller Derby
- Don Scorleone, Sacramento Roller Derby
- Nine Inch Wheels, Rat City Roller Derby
- Umpire Strikes Back, Rat City Roller Derby
Catherine Beat-Her Bonez: As the committee is way bigger than five people, let’s first talk about how you are organized in the WFTDA Officiating Education committee?
Wheels: Presently, I am the chair of the Officiating Education Committee, but have been an instructor and content creator since 2012.
At the moment, in the committee, we have Clinic Instructors, Content Creators, and Reviewers. The first has to do with essentially being a classroom teacher, while the latter two are more geared toward content creation for clinics and online education. These positions support our current training programs. We offer in-person clinics (WFTDA Clinic-in-a-Box), as well as online training through WFTDA’s Learning Management System (LMS). We also approve WFTDA-Recognized Clinics, which means while the clinic isn’t hosted or taught by WFTDA instructors, we believe it covers much of the same content and training philosophies as our clinics.
Additionally, we have Regional Trainers in our committee as part of a program launching soon. These are mentors/trainers who will work directly with WFTDA-Member league Head Officials to provide resources and develop training plans for the Officials in their leagues.
CBB: What do you like about working in and for the Officiating Education committee?
Wheels: Being able to share knowledge about the sport, rules, procedures, and officiating in general. I love seeing other people learn, practice, and grow into incredible Officials. The best reward, though, is when I read or hear feedback from Officials all over the world on how informative and helpful the lessons are. I’m glad that people, especially newer Officials who are starting out, are enjoying them.
Connie: I like working with an international community of incredibly dedicated Officials.
Don: My mom was a phenomenal teacher for 30+ years and I think I got just enough of her genes that I also really love to teach, so OffEd has been a fantastic opportunity for me. I’ve been sharing what I’ve learned for a long time in my own league and area and got a lot of feedback from folks that they liked how I did it. Now I get to do it on a larger scale with clinics and also through the learning modules.
Ump: I’ve been involved with the Officiating Education program since the very early days, and I’ve always been motivated to share what I’ve learned, to help fellow Officials reach for their next level, and at the same time, connect with other Officials to hear what’s been successful for them. There have been a lot of instructors who have come and gone, but in this most recent phase of online development, it’s been a pleasure to see the next crop of leaders coming into their own and passing along many of their own lessons learned.
Aggie: If I help (because it’s not just me!) to present a concept in a manner that makes sense to other Officials and gives them a better understanding of how or why we perform tasks a certain way, that is rewarding for me!
CBB: What’s it like to create content and lessons for an organization like the WFTDA? What are the challenges and rewards?
Wheels: It’s super exciting to get to share your knowledge with others, but at the same time you have to step out of yourself and what you know and think about what others really need to know.
Don: It is fascinating. First thing I do is try to imagine where I was at in my derby career at the level being taught. From there I try to anticipate the questions I would have had, what I wish I had known at the time, and what I could do in the module to make it digestible and assuring. There is a lot that I’ve absorbed over the years in terms of clinic material, individual Officials seminars, and just from watching lots and lots of derby and different Officials. There are so many good ideas and practices out there it can be difficult to summarize it all.
The biggest reward for me is to see if what I do helps invigorate people about derby. I think derby is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I love being able to share that excitement and passion with other people and watch it spread. I feel like there are lots of ways to give back to derby and for me this is a great way to do just that.
Connie: It’s a really great collaborative process – pulling information from skills and expertise from around the world really helps streamline processes and share knowledge. At the same time it is challenging to find time to get together and collaborate over so many time zones!
Aggie: I’m very happy to collaborate on this project with smart, experienced Officials from different time zones and I’m honored to be associated with WFTDA in this capacity. It’s also a big responsibility because it’s not Aggie’s (or another instructor) opinion that comprises the content of a module; we speak on behalf of a pretty big organization. Writing (and presenting) course material means I have to understand it myself, which is a benefit to me for sure. Seriously, the challenge is to write content that is understandable to Officials at all experience levels and parts of the world, putting myself in their closed-toe shoes.
Ump: Trying to translate topics that were developed and initially presented at in-person clinics for online learning has been an interesting journey. The whole approach had to change, but the information still needed to be there. What were previously bullet slides for discussion topics needed to be flushed out to include all of the talking points, but somehow not turn into a wall of text. We had to move away from interactive approaches but still find ways to keep people engaged. I know we still have room for improvement, but the evolution has been interesting to watch and experience.
CBB: Let’s stay on this topic for a moment. OffEd started out by developing clinic lessons for WFTDA clinics and is now moving into online learning. So – the ultimate question is: clinics vs. online lessons?
Don: I really enjoy everything I do on the committee but if I had to point to a favorite, it would be doing the clinics. At these, I really get to pour my enthusiasm into the modules and with the folks in the room. Plus, in those situations you get to see when folks have “A-HA” moments. It’s just really cool.
I think the big difference between creating modules for Clinics and Online lessons is that I know I’ll be able to speak to the clinic modules and have a dialogue with folks where the Online lessons are more of a lecture. To me, this also changes the approach and overall content a lot.
Ump: I’m not the most socially adept person, so teaching in-person classes was always a bit nerve-wracking, but that live experience helped sharpen our classes over the years. You could see when you were losing people, reshape what wasn’t working on the fly, and use those experiences to continue to evolve the material. With the online lessons, it’s much harder to get that feedback. There also isn’t that high at the end of the clinic when everyone is thanking you, but I remind myself that we’re reaching much further, making the material more available than we ever could with in-person clinics.
Wheels: The biggest challenge for me is fitting everything about a topic into one lesson. It’s why you’ll see some very general, big picture lessons, mixed in with more micro lessons, even splitting some topics into a few micro lessons. There’s just so much.
There is also a strange fear of feeling like you missed something when writing the online lessons. At in-person clinics it’s easy to just add something, but with the online format there isn’t that interaction, so you can easily get panicked that something important got left off. But that’s also what makes our group amazing; we have that support and varying perspectives from the others in our review cycle to catch those things and offer constructive feedback to make the final product great.
Don: I think the biggest challenge is trying to create Online modules for everyone in such a way that they can be digested and applicable to a wider group. I love the one-on-ones and clinic settings because it can be more specific and direct. There gets to be that dialogue to help people understand. With the Online modules, I feel like it’s a one-sided conversation, so I try to anticipate possible questions and create material to answer it as best I can. I also think that I know that it won’t apply or help everyone. This has been hard for me to accept because I want to help everyone.
Wheels: But with the online lessons, we’re able to reach such a wider audience than we ever were able to before with clinics. As we add in more lessons and topics I can’t wait to continue to see all that growth take shape.
CBB: Talking about adding more lessons. What else are your plans for 2019 and beyond? What are your goals and vision for the work in this committee?
Ump: There are so many more topics and lessons that we want to create that it’s hard to know where to start, how to decide what’s next. So the only thing to do is to just pick one and get to it. I have so much material on Psychology of Officiating collected over the years, but I think sharing something new might be in order.
Connie: I’m hoping to building some soft skills training for Officials.
Wheels: My OffEd plans for the future are extensive. But to give a sneak peak of what is coming, this year we’ll finally be launching our Regional Trainer program for Head Officials of WFTDA member leagues. We’ll also be releasing a Flexible Staffing guide to help with the challenges staffing games. We’ve also got a TH Mentor program coming out later this year to work in conjunction with WFTDA Recognized Tournaments for 2020. Some other things coming this year and early next year are of course MORE LMS online lessons, some online Seminars as well and we’ll continue our offered clinic programs.
Long term our hope is to be able to continue expanding these programs as well as taking some to the larger officiating community as well as continue to develop programs and resources to address the Officiating Educational needs globally. We’re always thinking about what we can do better and what we can create to address those needs.
Aggie: I am looking ahead to conducting some formalized home and regional Officials training before next season starts; also there are more LMS courses on the horizon so that will keep me busy, creating some and studying others. Our courses – and others out there in the derby world – are great, but they don’t replace “getting out there and practicing your craft.” Some of the best learning opportunities come at lower levels of play and at the themed mashups, so don’t overlook those games if you want to get experience in new assignments or just keep your skills fresh.
If you want to meet the instructors from Officiating Education in person, find them at the Clinic-in-a-box at RollerCon.
Also, check out all the amazing online lessons in our Learning Management System here: https://certification-wftda.talentlms.com/.
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To bring an Officiating Clinic to your league or area, or to find more information and resources, check us out here: https://resources.wftda.org/officiating/officiating-education/.
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