Its debatable…Speak Up!

June 1, 2007

Things to do in June…

Filed under: Debate,Organizing and planning — bk2nocal @ 8:22 pm

Well, another month is gone and in the world of speech and debate, the long year is finally over.  Most colleges are out for the summer and the year of tournaments, practices and endless research is over (high schools, if attending NFLs, still have a few more weeks).  But, as the saying goes, there is no rest for the weary – and I think we can all agree that speech and debate coaches are some of the most weary people in America!  I am going to make it a goal to post a message at the beginning of each month discussing what a coach/director should be considering in that month. 

Since June is a “slow” month in the world of speech and debate, this month’s list will not be terribly long.  I may even forget a few things, but I’ll come back to the list if I think of something that I have forgotten.

  • Closing out last year’s accounts.  Most colleges have a July close date, but you don’t want to wait until the last minute, as many campuses have a purchase deadline a few weeks prior to close dates.  This is a great time to figure out (1) if you have money left over in the budget that may purchase you some hard goods, like printers, cartridges, copy cards, VA cases, etc.; (2) if you are short on money, so you can possibly go to alumni to ask for funding to cover the shortfall (or at least let your administrator know what is going on so they are not caught off guard by the shortfall); (3) finalized expenses for the last few tournaments (especially if you attended the IE national tournaments, which tend to fall late in the season and may have fallen through the finals/end-of-year cracks). 
  • Once you’ve done that, you can start the next step in the process – figuring out any adjustments you need to make to the travel schedule for next year.  If you’ve underspent, look at tournaments you might be able to add to the schedule. If you’ve overspent (or came close to it), what tournaments can you possibly cut out next year?  Remember to consider your numbers for the following year – will they be the same?  More?  Less?  That definitely plays a big part in the expense of your tournament travel. 
  • Now you can sit down with the next year’s calendar and decide on a tentative tournament schedule.  This may seem really early to be doing this, but its good for you and the students to have this information as early as possible.  In addition, recruits are usually really excited to see a tournament schedule (even if the places we travel to are not all that glamorous).  The Council of Forensics Organizations has a joint calendar for speech and debate tournaments located at http://fmp.mnsu.edu/cofo/ and the Cross Examination Debate Association has a calendar at http://debate.miami.edu/calendar/ (be sure to scroll down a little bit to reach the CEDA Calendar section) and the American Forensics Association includes their calendar in their June newsletter. 
  • Next is encouraging your students to either attend a summer institute (for debate participants) OR to start writing speeches for next year (individual events).  Most of the institutes offer either early registration breaks or scholarships for students who register early.  I work at the ADI in Arizona, which is designed for policy debaters, but has a few parli debaters attend each summer.  When I was competing, I attended WDI at the University of Vermont.  They now include policy, parli and LD I believe.  Finally Wyoming offers a very economical choice with their WFI.  The offer both policy and parli tracks.  Individual events competitors do not attend summer institutes, but they can certainly start working on preparing speeches for the next year now.  That way, they don’t have to do as much work when the school year begins.
  • Do a little self-reflection on the prior year.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What did you wish you had done at some point that you might be able to get done during the summer?  It often seems to me that once the season begins, I am always behind.  So, if I think of something to do that would be valuable, I often can not find the time to do it.  Now, if I can remember that during the summer and do it, then it will be done.  Remembering it is the problem, which these periods of self-reflection will hopefully help.  I try to go back through the year tournament-by-tournament.  I might even go back through my sent emails to see if there are things I can streamline in the future.  The summer gives you some breathing room to really take it slow and get the systems set up for the next year.
  • The final thing I have for June is a “year-end” brag sheet.  You may have already done this before school ended, but if you haven’t, now is the time.  This should go out to your alumni, your administrators, the parents of your students, any campus publications that might do a story on the team in the future, and even the local press.  The brag sheet can be simple – just list the competitive successes, academic awards received by and anything else about your students that would be impressive to these audiences.  Often, we work with extremely well-rounded students who are receiving scholarships, local awards for service, academic recognition like Dean’s List, etc. but no one ever knows because all we focus on is what they do in forensics.  I would suggest having each student complete a “brag” sheet at the final meeting you have with the team, where they can note their achievements from the past year, both forensics and other areas.  

Obviously, this is probably not a comprehensive list of everything that needs to be done in June.  But, it is a good place to start.  If anyone reading this has additional items they can think of, please feel free to add them in the comments section!

Enjoy the summer…the season grind will be starting once again all-too-soon…

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