New Teacher, Old Team.


Our FTC team’s adult sponsor has left our school to teach at a college, so we are getting a new teacher obviously. We speculated and stuff, but now I found out who the new teacher will be, but I am not sure if this will be good for the team.

She is going to be transferring from one school to another, which is our’s. I talked to one of the students from her old school, who knew how she structured and laid out the team, and how efficient it was. They also competed in FTC, but basically, the way our teams were organized were completely, completely different:

My team:

Club based: Only 10 interested students joined by will, and eventually we got along with each other. Since it was a club, no students were forcibly assigned to do FTC, so we all enjoyed it.

[Almost] Zero structure: Instead of “You are the programmer, that is all you do”, our team was really do what you feel like doing, if the team agrees, we add it on. Our ‘roles’ were titles and nothing else, I was listed as builder but I also did most of the design and a bit of programming. Our team loved it like this. In addition, the only leader roles were the two seniors, picked by seniority, but they TBH were just figureheads for the most part.

Student lead: Yea.

The new teacher’s previous team:

Curriculum based: Pretty much the teams were determined by class periods, which is randomized, so it is a mixed bag as to how the teams will be performing and if they like/dislike each other. By the end of the season, we got along for the most part. Also, if it is curriculum based, chances are that half of the FTC season will be learning how to put things together, learning about gear ratios, and since it could be a required class not all students will enjoy it. You will have disinterested students.

Very [over?]structured: Since it was curriculum based, I would guess that to keep disinterested students doing stuff you need to have structure. Our team set no deadlines other than 'Competition date", but we still got things done ahead of schedule. I find that when you set no agenda, no schedule, from my experience it is actually much, much better as long as there are incentives. For her, she had set up judges and you had to present why you wanted to be builder, programmer, and you had set roles, although the student I talked with said sometimes it just melted and people just did whatever they want.

Teacher lead: Yea. Also, at FTC, the student I was talking with said that for his FTC team, some good drivers met at his school to practice driving when the teacher was sick, and since she didn’t like that, she stopped the better drivers from driving as punishment, so the team didn’t perform as well.

Ive done some robotics camps with this teacher, and so far I am unsure of what I feel with her leading our robotics team. I wonder if the team is able to keep the old team mechanics, and just work how we did. It seems kind of backwards, but any time a project would be structured, the structuring would never work, the schedules would be ignored, and even if it mattered as a grade it still wouldn’t work. I have a feeling my team wouldn’t like it much either.

I am doing a robotics program right now, and I would be able to discuss how our FTC team flowed and worked next week. However, I’m not sure if I should, since it might come off as rude, but I am worried about the fate of our team.

It could not hurt to express your concerns to the teacher when classes start up again. Really work hard to be non-confrontational - that is, you just want to speak your concerns, since the teacher might already be aware of these and have a plan to address them.

Some additional structure is not bad, necessarily

Also, having a curriculum-based program does help enlist the support of the administration, board and parents since the results are ‘valuable’.

Spend some time thinking about structure, and how you might make it work for the team. Structure does not mean “you are a programmer and must do only that”, but instead I feel it means “Here is the programming you must get done - once it is done and good, you are free to do whatever else suits your fancy”. Or, said in another way: We need this work done, the team is counting on you to get it done, please focus on it until it IS done".

After all, you think my boss says 'hey, just work on whatever and somehow we’ll get it all done"? Try to emulate real-world processes.

Actually, as a team we do assign that, but I guess we just figure it out ourselves…

As for support with it being curriculum based, we actually have gained the support of the admins, staff, and parents of those involved.

I am not exactly the charismatic type either… so I would be worried about somehow conveying “We are our team, GTFO” rather than “I feel the my team would work like how it did before”, especially since the first one is completely wrong, since we would need a team sponsor that would go to the events, guide and form the team, and do the ‘dirty work’ that I have no clue about (Filling forms, finding sponsors, bleh).

Another thing is that I am just basing this off of their FTC performance, what one single student has said, and how she instructs a robotics camp; her teaching style could be far different, and the student could be biased or bored (He has been doing robotics for years, as I have too, so I know I would be bored learning stuff I figured out years ago). I’d also be judging her without even having experiencing her classes or teaching style… so I think that timing too would be of the essence, and maybe I should talk about when the team gets formed. I’m not a spokesman for the team either, so I guess I should worry about it when the time comes; after all, the entire team (Sans 3 seniors who obviously graduated) talking about the team mechanics when the FTC season begins together is probably much more effective than a single students talking about a situation based off little knowledge and with awkward timing and stance… I’d go with just worrying when the time comes.

I think I just solved my own problem.

Don hit the nail on the head.

Its hard changing teachers for any team, believe me it happened to us this year. Everyone, including the new teacher, was skeptical about how things would turn out not only for our FRC team, but the FLL and FTC programs as well. It really turned out to be one of the best and most organized seasons we’ve ever had.

This new teacher can help your team with direction and approach the problems with a new strategy. Just remember a really important thing that you need to learn in “the real world”: you have to learn to compromise and adjust.

Feel out what this new teacher wants out of the program, for all you know she may be educating her students in a way you never thought possible on your old team structure.

Be open to change and be able to compromise with an open-minded attitude. :slight_smile:

edit: haha you really did answer your own questions/concerns.

How about this: sometime during the summer, see about having a team meeting. Express your concerns with the new teacher; allow the teacher to do the same as she may have a different set of concerns about you guys. Work out some form of compromise if needed. Just make sure to do it as a team, possibly with some non-directly-involved member of the administration as a cool head in case of trouble. (Also to represent the administration if need be–they have a stake in this too!)

So who pays for this team? I see nothing in this thread about corporate sponsorship or mentors. Check other threads about mentors, but if you don’t have them, you’re missing some good experiences and inspiration. Nor do I see anything about the roles of parents in organizing and supporting the team, another important facet of successful teams.

If the school is paying for the team, they can set it up how they want it. It’s the cynical Golden Rule: Them that has the gold makes the rules. You will have to work with the new teacher and with the school administration to get things to work.

One other thought, perhaps the other student reported the new teacher’s autocratic style because the students on her team weren’t self-motivated like the ones on your team seem to be. If the students don’t step up to take responsibilities, then they have to be assigned or things just won’t get done. The issue of other drivers could have been seen as horsing around with the robot, which could have led to damage. Every second-hand report is filtered by the reporter’s inherent biases and values. Have a team meeting with the new teacher as soon as possible.

PS If your old teacher is at college, could he return as a mentor as well? Many colleges work in partnership with FRC teams.

First and foremost, be happy that you have someone that is interested enough to want to be your coach. Having a strong school contact is important to advance your team’s abilities and resources.

Second, you are actually getting someone who has experience doing this… how great is that?

I think you arrived at a suitable solution… see what happens… be courteous…be appreciative… work with your new coach.
Remember you are laying the groundwork for new teams to come.

Above all, be positive… don’t think about how bad things could be… look for the good aspects and celebrate them…

All the best in your coming season!!

It’s hard to say things are going to be one way or another for a team that has just gone through their rookie year. Your were destined to change as all teams do after their first year (or fifteenth). Keep your eye on the prize, getting a robot up and working during the build. How you get there varies from team to team. Remember above all, you are part of a team. A team works together.

Well, it has been a few weeks, and all I can say is that our new leader is just great. She has tons of connections for robotics and sponsorship, was able to get us to a presentation plus a small Q&A time with Dean Kamen, and start off robotics nearly right away in the school year. I can tell that this year, the veteran members will need to change the ‘workflow’ a bit, but we will be able to achieve success as before. Two robotics camps != Knowing everything about a person.

As far as I know, the only possible caveat we might have this year compared to last year is due to a larger team; my speculation is either budgeting (We went overboard on the budget last year with 1 team… what about 4 teams now?), or team control. To be honest, I find working in smaller groups works better, but for this, we will be having 3 or 4 full teams of 10 or less, not some massive 40 person team. We also had a major company who sits only 100ft away from the school sponsor us… I think they are contributing multithousands at this point, and they also happen to be a webhosting company, and at the moment I am trying to get hosting from them in order to start up a team blog and forum to help the massive volume of members be collaborative and organized. The engineering notebook entries are primarily to be harvested on the forum aswell.

This year we are really hitting the ground running.