We are back for day 10 of Camp One Clap at One Clap Speech and Debate where adventure awaits trailblazing Speech and Debate campers! Today, Counselor Bailey Patterson and Marcus Viney return with part two of their four part series - Troop Leader Talk. Today’s episode is called: Hitting the Bullseye. After some baseline discussion about coach philosophy last week, Counselors Patterson and Viney focus on setting up camp on the ground of coaching theory! 🏕️👏🌳
Thanks to Camp Counselors Bailey Patterson, Marcus Viney, and Junebug for part two of their series - Troop Leader Talk - with a whole lot of great content about coaching theory and the coaching triangle.
Here is a transcript of Troop Leader Talk, episode 2:
Today on Troop Leader Talks we’re setting up camp on the ground of coaching theory. Last time we explored coaching philosophy. Now, it’s time to roll up those flannel sleeves and move from mindset to toolkit. Today, we are exploring the coaching triangle and the three fundamental pillars of establishing norms, making observations, and providing feedback. A quick word of warning: each of these ideas may sound simple, but their absence may help explain why students aren’t reaching the heights they desire. Troop Leaders should strive to be advanced, but never forget the critical basics. And that means mastering the coaching triangle.
On to the first point: Establishing norms. Norms are like the rules of archery and the boundaries of our playing field. They're the best practices in various speech events, the collective agreement on what makes a strong humor performance or an impactful oratory. Establishing norms is like setting up your archery target. You need to know what you're aiming for and what counts as a bull's eye. But how do we set these norms? First, it’s important for a coach to know what ingredients are needed to be successful in each event. The best way to do this is to watch performances from the National Speech and Debate Association website archives or on YouTube.
You need to decide what you think works in each event. As we learned in our previous episode, it’s not about copying successful performances directly, but noting what choices each student made to see success. For example, you might have two incredible duo partners with a script they adore, but without blocking they are likely to not see much competitive success. Creative blocking choices are a norm in duo. However, intricate blocking is not as common in dramatic interpretation, or platform events like oratory and informative. By recognizing the unique elements of each event that bring about success, you can guide your student on the right course.
Now, once you have in mind what you think is good, it's all about dialogue. Coaches and students need to sit down intentionally, and discuss what they think a good performance is in a given event. Only then can they have a shared understanding for real growth. But remember, the target is unique for each student. Just like in archery, everyone has their own way of drawing the bow and letting the arrow fly. The key is to have a target for them to aim toward. This is crucial for the other parts of the triangle to play their role.
Which leads nicely to the second corner of our triangle: making observations. Observation is about truly watching and listening to your student, not just once but over the course of the season. In essence, it’s all about collecting data, and as Troop Leaders, we will have multiple opportunities to watch and listen to our students. If we want to help our archers improve, we need to see what they can do as they progress. The first and most obvious place to collect information is practice. Students need an opportunity to perform regularly and make new choices. They need a coach who will watch them and take notes on their performance. This doesn’t always look like watching a speech from beginning to end, but can be a section that is started, stopped, repeated, and looked at from multiple angles. However, practice can only take you so far. We need to watch our archers in action, in real rounds so we can assess their shots in competition. Now, this may sound like something that doesn’t need to be said, but all too often we as Troop Leaders get called to other duties and miss out on this critical step of our journey. We also recommend a space for collecting observations. A physical notebook or Google Doc may be a smart place to track progress. The observations won’t be helpful unless they’re easily accessible and understandable to our students.
Finally, we arrive at the third point of our coaching triangle: feedback. Feedback is the gentle guidance of the archery coach, adjusting the stance, the pull, the release. It's the course correction that helps the archer hit the mark. Feedback isn’t just about communicating our observations, it can also be praise where it’s due and constructive criticism where necessary.
The importance of feedback lies in its power to foster growth. It bridges the gap between where the students are and where they want to be. Without feedback, our students could be left in the dark about their progress, unaware of their strengths and blind to their weaknesses. Providing effective feedback is an art. It's about timing, tact, and tailoring our communication to the needs of each individual student. We should be honest but kind, specific but holistic, and always with our eye on the target. To do it in a validating and uplifting way, first, always start with what the student did well. Reinforce the positives. Second, focus your feedback on one or two key areas, make it actionable. Very often students can get overwhelmed with too many pieces of their changing puzzle. Many won’t be able to make 20+ adjustments between one performance and the next. Focus on two or three notes. Once those have been implemented effectively, you can provide more feedback. Third, be forward-looking, focusing on improvements for next time. Don’t dwell on past mistakes or focus on elements that are not in our control. Whenever you get lost in the woods, just remember to rely on the good work of norming that you’ve already accomplished. Begin with the end in mind. What do we think makes a good speech and how do we help our students hit that mark?
A quick note about ballots: some are helpful and others, well, not so much. Help your students identify what feedback on ballots will be beneficial to their success and what might be a nice suggestion, but otherwise won’t get them where they want to go. Having shared discussions about ballot feedback and whether it conforms to your troop’s established norms can be enlightening. However, we must remain mindful not to quickly dismiss any comments we don’t immediately like or don’t fit what we think is good. We should always read ballots with a positive attitude, knowing we likely have something to learn; otherwise, we might miss out on a crucial event element we hadn’t previously considered as a norm or we risk walking away from a piece of hidden gem feedback. An idea that you and your troop hadn’t considered, but is actually key to landing that joke mid-way through your info, or a creative solution to the blocking challenge you’ve hit time and time again in that POI. Reviewing, understanding, and implementing feedback from ballots is to the troops advantage.
Each one of our students is like a budding archer, bursting with the potential to hit that bullseye. As we continue our adventure as Troop Leaders, we need to keep the coaching triangle close to heart. Each part is essential. Without norms, we're shooting arrows in the dark. Without observations, we're shooting aimlessly. And without feedback, we miss out on an opportunity to get closer and closer to that target. Until our next gathering around the campfire, stay resilient, resourceful, and ready for anything, even wandering arrows. Happy camping! I mean coaching.
Troop Leader Talk: Camp Counselor Bios
Marcus Viney is the head coach of speech and debate at Cheyenne East High School where he has been coaching for nearly a decade. He has Master’s degrees in Philosophy and English from Colorado State University. He currently serves as the District Chair of the Hole-in-the-Wall District for the National Speech and Debate Association, as well as the President of the Wyoming Speech and Debate Association. Marcus has celebrated multiple state and national championships with the East High team. Most recently he was inducted into the Wyoming High School Speech and Debate Hall of Fame. However, he is perhaps best known for his local celebrity pug, Junebug.
Bailey Patterson is full time communication faculty at Laramie County Community College where she teaches public speaking. She has an MA in Communication from the University of Wyoming and will graduate with her MFA in Theatre Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech University this December. Recently, Bailey won the National Kennedy Center Irene Ryan Acting Award and the 2022 Jane Alexander Emerging Artist Award from the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Back in her day, she was a Wyoming state champion in DI, Duo, and Poetry and was the first ever Wyoming automatic qualifier to the National Tournament in dramatic interpretation. However, she is perhaps best known for being best friends with local celebrity pug, Junebug.
Junebug is a widely beloved and celebrated pug in the Wyoming speech and debate community and beyond. She charms everyone she meets with her calming demeanor and cheerful snorts. Small but mighty, Junebug is one of the most talented and experienced coaches given her dedication to after school practices and in-town tournaments. While she’s known for disrupting duo blocking sessions, she’s unmatched for her empathy and ability to care for people facing obstacles or hard times. When she’s not leading the troops, she loves to percolate while sunbathing on the back deck. Her favorite food is ham and she’s a world-class napper. Discover your chance to connect with this total cutie @junebugpug on Instagram and Threads.
Thanks again to Counselors Bailey Patterson, Marcus Viney, and Junebug! Episode 3 of Troop Leader Talk: Reaching the Summit will drop next Thursday at Camp One Clap!
Tomorrow, there’s lots to look forward to at camp: episode two of Croc Hiking with EZ Platform starring Ella “E” Goodman and Zcherina “Z” Villegas will be filled with more Oratory and Informative tips, tricks, and hacks. Professor Graham and Kevin will be back with yet another glorious ABCs of Debate video too!
In case you missed it, here is Professor Graham and Kevin's unstoppable episode for today:
Camp One Clap Social Media Challenge for Day 10 of Camp:
Post a mindfulness exercise or calming technique that enhances your speaking, debating, or performance skills. Explain how it helps you stay calm and focused before competition.
I'll be posting my answers on the One Clap Speech and Debate TikTok channel! Be sure to tag our social media accounts or use the hashtag #CampOneClap23 when you post. I’m shifting the reward structure a bit for challenges to include One Clap prizes for more people! If you interact with a monthly challenge 10 times you can receive a holographic Camp One Clap sticker. If you interact 25 times you can receive several stickers, a One Clap coaster, and a Camp One Clap magnet!
If you want to support the One Clap Speech and Debate Podcast, become a patron here: https://www.patreon.com/oneclapspeechanddebate
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Check out the 2023 August Wyoming Speech and Debate Newsletter from One Clap: