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BEST Practice #6: Take Advantage of the Entire 6-weeks

It is a less stressful to plan ahead than to play catch-up. Why not make the week following kickoff every bit as productive as the week before game-day? You’ll accomplish more and, probably, learn more.

It can be challenging for a rookie team to get the ball rolling. Efforts are often confounded by other fall-semester startup activities required of the coach, students, and just about everyone else that is involved. Coupled with generally being lost and promises from the hub personnel that all will be explained at kickoff, most rookies come to the Kickoff event under prepared. The cost? Plans have not been put into place to make the first week productive. Practically speaking, many BEST teams don’t really start until the end of the first week or later. This is where you can easily get a leg up on the competition.

Prepare the Adults for Kickoff
There is some information that will not be revealed until kickoff including game specific rules, deadlines for deliverables, and some hub specific details. However, the vast majority of information tends to repeat from the previous season with only small modifications.

The Head Coach should read through the Coach Survival Guide over the summer…even if you’ve read it before. Also consider the Essential Countdown for New Coaches. Part of that countdown is to prepare a brief recruiting flyer for other adults. Then you are ready to recruit mentors and support teachers as soon as the fall semester starts up. Point new recruits to specific sections of the Coach Survival Guide that relate to the area that they’ll be assisting with (technical, BEST Award, etc.)

Finally, generate an “Ideal Schedule” for the 6-week competition. References that will help you here include the Weekly Tips section in the Coach Survival Guide, the posts on this blog labeled by week, and the document 42-days of BEST.

Don’t plan on imposing this Ideal Schedule on your team. The students will generate their own for the team. However, having your Ideal Schedule pre-conceived will help you advise them and recognize the urgency of getting the team off to a fast start.

Prepare the Students for Kickoff
Have at least one team meeting prior to the Kickoff Event to give them a heads up concerning how much information they are personally responsible for extracting from the various presentations at Kickoff. If no assignments are made, then everyone will assume that someone else is listening and nobody will get anything. (I know, that’s a hyperbole…but just try it both ways and compare the results.)

If you can have more than one meeting before Kickoff, then I’d suggest the following priorities:

  • (one additional hour) Activities that let team members get to know others and the skill-sets of others.
  • (an hour beyond that) An overview of the design process (steps and phases) the team will follow and define team roles that plug into the various steps (e.g. what is the CAD group doing during each step, what is the construction crew doing during each step, etc.)
  • (an hour beyond that) Assess student skills and assign team roles and responsibilities to students. Within the assigned roles, review related information from previous BEST seasons (much of it can be found online)
  • (more time) Develop skills within each specialization (learn CAD, learn Programming, research Marketing, practice Brainstorming, exercise tutorials that come with various software packages)

Prepare for a Fast Start
Before Kickoff, set the schedule for activities to be engaged in week 1 of the competition. Do not make the goal for your first meeting following Kickoff to “set the meeting schedule for the 6-weeks.” More than likely that will mean missed meeting opportunities in Week 1. Why wait, schedule a meeting for Monday following Kickoff? Ride the wave! By the way, why wait until your team is behind schedule to start scheduling long Saturday meetings? Be proactive, I’m sure you can find plenty to do even on the first Saturday following Kickoff.

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