Help! Getting teachers inspired

Hi everyone,

I am curious as to how you were able to get teachers interested in helping with your FIRST team. Team 573 (composed of a brother and sister school) has support from the brother school, but is somewhat struggling to get support from the other. This is very much due to the fact that each teacher can moderate only one club.

We’ve tried to get the FIRST team put on the administration/faculty agenda. Also, we have spoken to the teachers personally and have started a robotics presentation for them. If anyone else has ideas as to how to get the teachers further inspired, they would be much appreciated :slight_smile: .

I’d appreciate any information on how to get teachers interested as well. There are students from two high schools on 121, but no teachers assist our team :frowning:

Our team has found it tough to get other teachers involved too. We are lucky in that two teachers were actually the ones to propose starting a FIRST team at our high school back in '98. They are still involved with the team to this day. We do have other teachers who have helped out but not to the extent of the original two. Our team is affiliated with one school so that also simplifies things.
You do mention that “we have spoken to teachers personally” but does “we” refer to the students or the teachers that are involved? It is great and you are on the right road in that you have put on a presentation for trying to recruit more teachers but also having the teachers already involved speak to the others may also help. As for a teacher being able to moderate one club only does that mean that the school(s) consider your team a club? Also are they getting paid to be on your team? If they are doing this on their own time I don’t see how the school board can tell them how to spend their time. Which school is your team based out of or actually work on the robot in? If you’re two schools but do all your work in one the other may not feel as part of the team as the main one and thus not give as much support or interest the faculty as much.
I don’t have experience of dealing with multiple schools comprising one team but there are teams that have successfully done this. I don’t want to nominate other members of the forum but one person on here I feel is good in dealing with situations like this and might have more suggestions or ideas for you. Redhead Jokes is a mentor on team #294 Beach Cities Robotics and they are comprised mainly of two different schools.

You do mention that “we have spoken to teachers personally” but does “we” refer to the students or the teachers that are involved?

We, being the teacher already involved, and the students, on different instances.

As for a teacher being able to moderate one club only does that mean that the school(s) consider your team a club? Also are they getting paid to be on your team? If they are doing this on their own time I don’t see how the school board can tell them how to spend their time. Which school is your team based out of or actually work on the robot in?

My school considers any group that represents the school as a “club”. Therefore, because Team 573 is known as the Brother Rice/Marian (the sister school) Mech Warriors, our FIRST team is a club which requires a moderator from the school’s faculty. Club moderators do not get paid for their involvement in our clubs before or after school.

Brother Rice took Marian in 2003, which is why we do most of our pre-build work there. We, however, are looking to change this if a teacher does find interest in our team.

571 is made up of two schools and has only one or two teachers strongly involved from each. The majority of our adult support is from sponsor representatives or parents of enthusiastic students, and each person usually specializes in a specific area of the robot. We do have some lesser involved teachers that like to be informed of what is going on with the robot, but they are that very deeply interested. However they do help out when we need some extra funds or something, and we enjoy having some strong support when we return from competitions. So quite frankly it is nice to have some teacher support but a lot is not necessary on a team.

I found that the best time to hook them is around September-October, just shotly after school opening. Timeing is everything, since a stressed teacher is more likely to push something to the side for teaching, and getting them when they are not stressed is the key.

Just some thoughts that may help you see how some teachers may view your group and some suggestions.

Think about how much is involved with a FIRST team and how much a teacher may fear they are getting involved with. It seems simple to a student, but not to an outsider.

Teachers hear kids talk. Have they heard things that causes them to want to stay away from your team…from all night work sessions to an exageration of who did what on a team trip. Have teachers heard things about your team that would scare them away? If so, you need to be able to garantee that the problem has stopped.

Start off trying to get a teacher involved in one aspect of your team. Is there an art teacher who will assist with making props for a competion or help with Tee shirt design? How about a computer/technology teacher who may help lead the animation entry. A teacher who may help build the field.(Look for a teacher who might build things for use in his/her classroom. Have you considered an English teacher who may be able to help you organize your award entrys or listen to you talk about your robot and give speaking suggestions? (Always be sure that you are specific in what you are asking for and do not ask for more if they agree to help. …let them offer to do more (until after their first season, and then go for more)

Finally, schools often pay a stipend to teachers for advising teams. In my district, this amounts to less than my travel expenses to a single travel event.
Be sure you are not going to cause your teacher to unwillingly spend money out of their pocket.

Now, if you can snag a single teacher and they are happy or at least they do not complain to others, it will be easier to get more teachers.

All this sounds just so easy, now go do it…

Last year, our first year as a team, out teacher left us. We continued through the year looking for an interested teacher. Fianlly, we were able to get one of our school’s math teachers to come down to competition for a day. After seeing what went on at competition, he was hooked and decided to become our school support. So really, I think you need to personally show teachers what FIRST really does. After all, the goal of teaching itself is to inspire and sand forth knowledge, I can’t think of a many greater organizations for this goal than FIRST.

Concerning inviting teachers and administration to our competition, we have sincerely tried - at both schools - and no one came =(.

But wow. We will definitely take into account what everyone has said when we approach the faculty… The different perspectives will certainly help. Thank you!

I should also have mentioned that you could tell the teachers getting involved that they don’t have to commit to every night of the week. They may have other commitments or interests. If you have several teachers they could pick different nights to help out and it takes the burden off of one or two having to be there all the time. Our school requires a faculty member there while we meet at nights and the few “helper” (for lack of better term) teachers we have chose certain nights according to thier free schedule allowing the main two teachers a night off (and the ability to have a life outside of FIRST :stuck_out_tongue: ).
I’ll also say there isn’t one correct answer or idea. Different schools have different regulations and different teachers have different hobbies, interests, or commitments that may collide with or influence thier amount of involvement. What works for one team may not work with another. You should listen (actually read :smiley: ) all the different ideas and suggestions being presented here and decide which ones would work or are worth trying with your circumstance.

We are starting to grow on the school as a team to help alieviate the burden on our teacher, too. Apparently, another math teacher who knows a thing or two about engineering will be helping us out next year. This year, our mentor really was overwhelmed, and our new teacher should be a great addition to the team. But really, just show the teachers (and administration, we got the principal to come to comp last year) what this program is all about.

By all means, make sure you’ve got teachers that are good at what they do. Shoot, if you’ve got a teacher whose sole skill outside of the classroom is making buttons, get 'em. I’ve seen in just a year how much teachers can make the difference in a team…well, more like parts of a team, but I assume the idea scales well.

I may have to suggest the rotating concept for next year–this year our preseason was one night a week, plus all saturday during the build. I’m sure adding a few days to the schedule would lend itself better to building up a robot with plenty of drive time, programming, and DANGIT! correction experience. And just to get everything organized…especially with three schools with three different forms for everything.

That was our experience for a couple of years.

This past season my daughter asked her favorite english teacher to join us in Phoenix. He agreed.

He’s hooked now. Not that he’s teaching on our team. He is inspiring all his classes and the school regarding robotics now.

Then that english teacher convinced his best friend, an educational advisor, to go to Atlanta.

He’s hooked.

Just like getting sponsors, one on one personal relationships help. Keep eyes and ears open for opportunities.

I just wanted to add my piece to what has been said.
If you want to get teachers involved, you have to get them to a competition. This is where it all comes together and where they will see that effort on their part will bear fruit.

Being an active participant in this effort is enormously time-consuming and we all want to see some result. I am not talking about awards and such… but I am talking about results from students. When I see my students looking at themselves in a different way, being more confident, becoming leaders in the school and actively pursuing careers in engineering and technology I see what all of my and the other teachers efforts are for.

One other thing to remember, in FIRST most of the attention is given to the volunteer Mentors, and rightly so…they put in extraordinary effort in a situation that is totally volunteer. Unfortunately, most students and parents see the teachers as doing this because its part of their job. This is simply not the case. The teachers are doing just as much as the mentors and working behind the scenes. We don’t get paid either… and many times when the team needs that last pneumatic cylinder or those extra fasteners or the extra shipping expense or drayage or whatever, its the teachers that keep it going … out of their own pockets… so please please please… thank the teachers… write a letter to the superintendant or the principal, mentioning the effort of your teacher, write a thank you, and at the very least… thank them personally yourself… most teachers live for this… they don’t want much…

sorry to get on my soap box…
I just know what it is like to make a team happen, take care of everything, and receive nothing but complaints in return… but when that 1 student says thank you I forget all about the complaints… and I remember why I decided to do this in the first place…

Its a tough job and very intimidating to a teacher who has little if any engineering experience…

Most teachers are not in it for the income,
But they are definitely in it for the outcome