Thoughts on the mentoring of rookie coaches...
Being a rookie coach is hard work. There is a lot to learn about FLL,
a lot of kid-management and kid-guidance to be done, the challenge of
a short season. Success at a regional tournament involves a lot of
planning and insight that may be elusive even for those who read the
coaching manual and read the listserv, and it may not be apparent to
some rookie coaches that there are books, guides, conference calls
and whatnot available to them.
This season (my third) I had the opportunity to provide some help and
mentoring to a school librarian coaching a young rookie team at a
school in a nearby county. Although we never met in person, we
corresponded a number of times and talked on the phone a time or two,
which gave her the opportunity to ask for guidance (from "where is
the regional tournament?" to "what's really expected in the research
project?" to "how can I know what the judges will ask?" to any number
of questions about the intricate robot-match rules), and for me to
offer advice that she may not have even known she needs. Although
there were still a lot of aspects of the tournament that she found
eye-opening, I think it was helpful.
I wonder if VADCFLL ought to consider formalizing such an arrangement
for all new coaches. The idea would be to pair up each new coach with
one (or maybe two) experienced coaches. This would be best done right
at the start of the season, to make sure the rookie gets hooked up to
the relevant web sites, listserv and other resources, and gets some
tips on how to organize the work, set realistic goals, create
appropriate ground-rules, understand the role of the coach in FLL,
and pace out the short season. Ideally the experienced coach (or
maybe his or her whole team, if experienced) would meet with the
rookie group early in the season, but that would be above-and-beyond.
As tournament date approaches, the mentor coach could provide
guidance on creating a suitable presentation, interpreting the Q&A's,
and how to get the kids, families and materials organized.
2006 #4809 Nano People
2007 #1666 Power Bunnies
2008 #5013 BLT--Brilliant LEGO Team
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