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December 7, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

Running a Novice Practice in Policy Debate: How to Coach Policy Debate Series

I would do 5 key things in practice:
1. Announcements
2. Instructional
3. Activity/Reflection ******* Very important to the learning process. At a minimum, a scenario-based activity can be helpful.
4. 2 person teams (its possible to shift this after the formal practice depending on your time constraints)
5. Action items for this week (aka learning & getting better on your own or with your partner)

Ideally I would also include times here for feedback & participation:
• questions they have
• what they’ve learned in debates (this is actually an important part of the learning process).
• how they want to get better

Get a schedule of what needs to be taught based on your experience & advice from others. This can at least create a schedule and outline of what you are going to teach. What should be included in 101? You might consider creating a Google doc….and sharing it on the team…. In an ideal world, this increases both expectations about what will be covered at the meeting….as well as collaboration in terms of content.

One part of this….is not only the topics….but the outcomes & take-aways of the students. If you specify the takeaways…..this can help you get specific about what good results look like and about the content you are trying to convey–or rather the transformations you are trying to bring about.

You might also consider distributing the responsibility for teaching among the debaters.

The NFL also has some tools for helping and coaching novices. The NDCA has coaching resources too:

Three key mechanisms which might work:
1. Each varsity team gets paired with a novice team. This helped when I coached at Rochester. It also distributes responsibility a bit. It also can help get novices in the community/social part of the team.
2. Center based learning. I have to admit stealing this as well. For instance, if you have 3 to 5 centers with 5 to 7 minutes at each center when you have 3 to 5 coaches to lead a center. I advise adding time….say up to 12 to 15 minutes if its justified–for more in depth learning.
3. Using whats known as a flipped classroom model. Provide an one to three articles to read (or videos to watch)–or parts of files to read (say 35 pages). This way most of the “learning” takes place outside of the classroom. Although how much time it leaves for debate-work may be another question. I think at a minimum creating a digital learning center with a blog (I recommend wordpress, which has free tools available. Thats the tool the3nr used). Its about as easy as doing email once you get the hang of it. This also allows you to collect your ideas you get in the off-time or down time in one single spot. You can even file activities on such a platform.


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