Starting a Team

Starting a Team

I will be writing a few articles in this series. This is the first of them. It is based on my experiences and I think all parents who are coaches/ assistant coaches/mentors or just parents of kids participating in FLL can relate to various points here. Please contribute and add more points to this to make the journey of FLL easier, more fulfilling and more rewarding for kids and parents alike.

Here comes the team registration day. Here are my thoughts on creating a good, balanced team this year.

Team Size: I found that a team size of four/five is good. Not too small; they all will have enough work to do with not much pressure on any one of them. Not too big either, else it would have been a nightmare managing all of their schedules and finding a time that suits all for weekly team meeting.

Proximity: It’s good they all live in same neighborhood and go to same school. They all like to play basketball too. The team will bond well. I can have some friendly basketball matches in between to help them relax and focus. I should probably look for the next Warriors game tickets too. All the families can go together, it will be a good time to enjoy as a team, the whole team.

First Steps: Team and parents are coming for the meeting in the evening. I will let kids come up with the team name and may be a logo as well. I should make a google group with parents and kids so that everyone can share ideas and we can decide about team meetings. Let me gather all the information I have till now so that we can see it and discuss about it when we meet. I am so excited, hope the kids are too.
It is going to be a hectic yet fun season.

Twelve tips to ensure you have a smooth start to your season:

1) Make sure you are registered in VIMS and have a background check if you want to be a coach/ assistant coach/ mentor. (You will need two coaches per team.)
2) You need not have an exact team when you register, but it is always better if you can figure out the team members before that. (You can add or remove members any time.)
3) You need to give the Team’s name and Location when you register. If the kids involved come up with that name, then they do relate better with their team entity. Team name can be anything from the game they like to the food they enjoy, the project they will like to work on or just about anything they all can agree on. (The team name can be changed later.)
4) It is always good to register a team early than late. Kids can acquire some building and programming skills during summer breaks. They can explore more about the theme and project for the season too. You can also order your Challenge mat in the summer if you register early. Even if you do not know the challenge, your team will have time to build the mission models in advance.
5) Keep all the parents informed and involved in respect to what they might have to do (construct the table, manage their kids’ activities and FLL schedule, bring a snack on team meetings day, organize a field trip etc.). Most of all be supportive and enthusiastic for the kids.
6) Make a google group/ yahoo group with all kids and parents as members so as to coordinate better during the season.
7) It is a good idea to have a shared drive (like google drive) to share all the relevant documents, programs at one place.
8) You can also put an excel sheet in that drive for all the shared expenses incurred by various parents during the season. You might use apps like splitwise for that too if everyone has an access to it.
9) Come up with a fixed day(s) and time in a week when everyone is present for the team meeting.
10) It is a good time to go over and discuss all the information you have regarding the season till then.
11) Discuss the possible field trips for the team with kids and parents.
12) Give some time for the team members to enjoy, play and talk to each other besides robotics. It goes a long way in team bonding.

Swati Mittal   Coach at NXT Generation