Team Activities During "Stay-At-Home" Season

I’m a 10-year coach of a community-based team that meets year-round and my co-coach and I are struggling to figure out what we can be doing to keep continuity and support for the team during this time.

Our team was 2 days before our second District competition when things closed. At least we had one competition, unlike many other teams. But it was a young team and they’re struggling a bit to move on.

We’ve been meeting once a week on Zoom just to touch base (4 weeks now). I send out a survey to find out how people are doing and if they’re ready to pick things up again. During the meeting, we do any announcements, a status check, go over the survey results and do a breakout room team builder. About 60% of the team is showing up - and probably 40% of the mentors. About half of the team is active on Discord during the week - playing Minecraft, etc.

As a coach, I think it’s critical that we keep the Thursday night meeting - it’s the stability that people need right now, even if the energy needed to show up is too much. They know they can if they have the energy to do it. I am concerned with keeping the team engaged and somewhat cohesive - critical if we end up doing normal camp/outreach activities during the summer and continuing on through the fall.

However, we need to move off the talking meetings to some doing meetings. I figure we could spend $100/student to do some activity together since we won’t be doing a State Competition. People don’t really want to commit to doing a lot of work - they’re coping with online school, online work, uncertain closures.

Any suggestions? What are your teams doing?

Linda
Coach Team PyroTech 3459
NC

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If anyone in your team likes CAD, you could participate in the F4 CADathon and Robots to the Rescue. Signups for the CADathon are open until April 11th I believe. Robots to the Rescue has started, and it’s going until May 15th. You can always look up online tutorials for CAD, like the Onshape Learning Center. You can also CAD just for fun, like a chess set or something similar. (If you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit of a CAD nerd.)
Students could also sharpen their programming skills. Codecademy is a good one, and one of our mentors came up with a Swerve Simulator if you’d like to try that.

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Hi Linda!
From doing Zoom meeting for the past few weeks, this is what I’m finding seems to work.

First, all of your concerns regarding summer practice and staying engaged are valid. Have you shared them with student leadership? While some people may disagree, I believe that if a concern isn’t sensitive information, it needs shared with student leadership.

“Hey everyone, as a coach, I am concerned about ________. Here are the reasons _________. While this season didn’t go as planned, we have an opportunity to flourish if we take advantage of this situation. However, I can’t do it without you. Why? Because we need ideas.”

By directly bringing you concerns to student leaders, you not only build trust, but you get more minds working on the problem. Kids are pretty dang smart, they just don’t always have know a direction to go (I certainly didn’t).

Next, the team (or just leadership, your call) talks about what we could do better in the future. We (meaning mostly students, because it’s easier to keep them engaged if they have to do most of the talking) identified some of our weak points this past year and have put different groups in charge of each project. These groups can focus on designing a ways to strength these areas. Here are some of the areas of weakness we identified.

Overall team:
Recruiting and Retention
Task Management

Mechanical:
CAD work - Not everyone has CAD computers, so we mainly have work on one computer.

Programming:
Teaching materials - Programming decided their goal during this time would be to develop teaching materials for future generations.
Rewriting the robot code - For experience, doing mainly through screen sharing.


We plan on doing some full team exercises, like a mock-design. Another idea would be to have some guest come and speak about specific areas. This shakes up the crowd a little bit. I’ve already done a few talks to different teams about java programming and would be happy to do another if you wanted.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!