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November 2012


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First Lego League in Virginia and DC <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 18 Nov 2012 14:25:16 -0500
B Bergenstock <[log in to unmask]>
B Bergenstock <[log in to unmask]>
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To: Haydee Cooper <[log in to unmask]>
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I totally agree- this needs to send over to FIRST.   What a touching email!
   And to send out some behind the scene thanks- Thank-you to  Karen for
organizing the tournaments in my area. What I do as a coach is great and
personally touches the lives of my kids, but none of it would be possible
with out people like Karen, Eric and Dominick!  A big thank-you to you
organizers :)  These stories belong to you too!

On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 11:23 AM, Haydee Cooper <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Wow, Eric, that is one amazing e-mail/essay!
> I seriously think somebody from First should put it up on their website.
> Haydee
>    *From:* Eric Palmer <[log in to unmask]>
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Sent:* Sunday, November 18, 2012 9:50 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [VADCFLL-L] Parent Involvement/Expectations Contract
> Sample?
>  Great question. This is very personal for me.  I have cried, yelled and
> screamed, and ranted in front of my family (never in front of the kids,
> other than the crying part),  and swore that I would quit FIRST. But……
> I’ve notice that with all volunteer activities for parents that maybe 15%
> commit 95% of the time and effort involved. This is a fact of life and is
> unfortunate but is not likely to change much.
> Each coach has to make his or her own determination about invested time
> and return on that investment.
> For a little history
> - coached FLL first time in 2006 and had 6,7 and 8th graders (my oldest
> was a 8th grader)
> - coached my youngest again in 2009, 2010 and 2011
> I've had the privileged to observe and in some cases work with, team
> members from past teams and I do run into many of them and their parents
> routinely.  Feedback is uniform and always amazingly positive about the
> outcomes. FIRST changes lives for the better.
> Most of the team members I have kept up with are outstanding young people,
> and many personally thank me, as do their parents, for the experience on
> FLL.  I have seen some of these kids grow up to and go to college. Others
> are seniors in HS this year and as well last year's team is 7th, 8th and 9
> th graders.
> My own assessment (and that of their parents) is these kids are much
> better off having been on FLL teams.  I will tell you I and my assistant
> coaches worked on core values, teamwork, decision-making, critical thinking
> and other related skills a lot.  I count that effort as having a big impact
> on the maturity of the kids.
> So what does this have to do with parent involvement?  Again, my opinion
> only!  Parent involvement matters less than being an aware coach and being
> active in molding the kids.  Good parent involvement does make the time
> commitment a little less for the coaches.
> Honestly if I had know how much work there was in coaching and how
> difficult parents can be, I would not have coached my first team. Going in
> naive was good for me. When I was done with the season I knew I would stay
> involved. I had to wait for my youngest to age up some but I knew.  But
> first after each season was over I told my family I was done with coaching.
> That lasted about two weeks till I had the sense that my time was little
> cost compared to the maturation of the kids.
> I've had parents that were perfect, parents that I never saw, and ones in
> which I wish I would never see at meetings or anywhere (and had to ask them
> to not be so involved). I even had one parent that I only saw at the
> regional tournament. He came up afterwards and said matter-of-factly “I
> wouldn’t have been so negative if I had known what this was really like and
> how good it is for my son?" All I can say about that to myself was “Duh!”
> After the first year I did get to where we had frank conversations before
> season with each parent. We talked about parent involvement needs,
> commitment on the team, and what other activities that each kid was
> committed to during season. I used a contract, but that was more about the
> commitment of the kids and not the parents and as well was about the team
> fee.  I even turned away a few for lack of commitment.  Not sure it
> mattered because parent commitment varied anyway.
> Some of my difficult kids and parents have resulted in:
> - a shy quiet young man, when asked what was the best part of the season
> "I found my voice"
> - My most difficult first team member: ran into him at a FLL tournament
> when he as a senior in HS. He came up and hugged me and said with tears
> streaming down his 6’3” frame: "I just wrote an essay on the topic of the
> person who has made the most difference in my life and that was about
> you'.  He is now in college after having a successful HS career.
>  -       My youngest first team members are seniors in HS and are
> captains of the FRC high school robotics team and are model young men.
> I could go on and list out a lot more.  All of this is worth it.  I
> haven’t even mentioned the benefits to my two girls.
> And now that I’m done coaching, I am glad it is over because it was a lot
> of effort.  But I would not trade it for anything.  And yes I'm still
> involved.  I judge and help to organize a FLL tournament. And I have moved
> my time commitments to FRC (the big robots) for a HS team and as a
> tournament volunteer.  I recruit others to FLL actively and I occasionally
> take a new coach under my wings to guide them through the difficult process
> of coaching.
> So please don't let difficult parents stop you from continuing on with
> coaching.  FIRST robotics changes lives in so many ways.  And if you are
> done, please keep FIRST going strong. Volunteer and recruit and judge.
> Eric Palmer
> On Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 8:49 PM, Lori Hand <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> That is a really good question.  I was lucky to have 2 assistant coaches
> who
> helped a lot. Yet still there is so much planning,coordinating to be done.
> I
> am completely DONE for a while.  Half the parents did not help at all.  I
> am
> not sure they said thank you.
> In my sheet, I requested the parents to volunteer for 1week of meetings.  8
> weeks, 8 meetings I was thinking. Yet half the team's parents did not,
>  even
> with repeated emails , volunteer for anything.  I can not lie, the next
> time
> I pick a team, the amount of help a parent gives will matter, if we I do it
> again.
> One way to know, is to organize a club / or other meetings to get a feel of
> which kids /parents work out the best.  FLL is an all volunteer effort and
> I
> feel that many parents do not help out at all.  Oddly enough, these parents
> are also the ones who complain the most.  So my thought is this -
> make your time a complete "Gift" of time and since your child is in it,
> count it as your time to help your child and live with whatever the parents
>  have to offer.
> Or select a team that includes consideration of how much others can
> contribute and make it a prerequisite with a failure  to do clause.
> At our coop preschool, if you do not coop, its $30 per class.  A fee gets
> involvement fast ,generally speaking.  I KNOW its not about the $, but for
> many that will give you the kids /parents that are serious.  A parent won't
> sign up if they can't help.
> The down side is that a great kid might get left out.
> Coach Robotic Ninjas
> Glen Allen VA
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