In his ninth column designed to give new Speech and Debate Coaches the lowdown on the world of coaching, Coach Rick Dorn writes about supply planning. In part two of his series on supplies, Coach Dorn outlines some of the miscellaneous supply planning that coaches should consider.
New Coaches 411 Column #9
June Article for New Coaches 411
For most of us, it’s the beginning of summer! This is a good time to look back and consider how your year of coaching went. I like to also plan on supplies for the upcoming year.
We covered clothing considerations last month, so I will talk about other basic supplies I find that I need to replenish. For the beginning of a new school year, I like to start with replenishing our supply of pens, highlighters, legal pads, notecards, and other basic office supplies. Back to school sales are good places to look as the prices are usually cheaper than you will find later in the year. I also try to replace timers occasionally. I’ve used school budgets for this, and I’ve also used the funding platform of donorschoose.com. Be sure your school district allows those kind of crowdfunding platforms before you do it. School administrators get very nervous about generic Gofundme type fundraising that doesn’t clearly say where the money goes. The advantage of donorschoose is that you have to list exactly what you will be buying, and it is frequently funded by wealthy patrons from across the nation, so you aren’t just hitting up your local community people yet again. Always fill out the necessary fundraising requests for your district before doing any fundraising.
For other more expensive items, you will want to plan accordingly. Visual aid stands are necessary now, and those add up quickly. I used donorschoose to get some easels for my informative speakers, and getting two or three will cost more than you expect. Your debaters might like better briefcases or file boxes. The plastic ones break, so you will be replacing them often. When I started, we carried paper copies of every piece of evidence, so we had to put funds into carts and big tubs. Just be glad the old days of tubs of evidence on a cart has gone the way of the dodo bird.
That brings up the next major expense: laptops. No debater HAS to have them, but I guarantee your students would prefer to use them. I have reached out to my technology department to get old devices to use. We now have one to one devices, so it’s become a much easier thing to get for us. Even older devices that are being replaced might work to keep a student equipped. My varsity debaters start finding ways to get their own, but you never want a student to quit because of a lack of equipment. Chromebooks are definitely cheaper if you need to save money on devices.
Extemporaneous speaking has a few unique needs. In the old days, we subscribed to numerous magazines and newspapers and spent hours each week cutting out articles and filing them to take with us. Again, tubs and dollies were needed. A few years ago, a new extension was created called Extemp Genie. Using it, we could download every article in a time period to a chromebook or laptop to be accessed offline. It was much cheaper, and much less time consuming. I will keep buying it for now because of the ease of finding useful articles during extemp prep time. With the recent NSDA rule changes, you could theoretically skip all purchases after the laptop, because use of the internet is now allowed. It does mean that your students will have to learn how to search online for quality materials in a timely manner. Also, many quality news websites have a pay for access rule which could add up. The rule change does still require that speeches be original and not prewritten, so the ethical ramifications are to be considered. If you have students who will struggle with wanting to take the easy way out, then I’d stick to the Extemp Genie plan. The website is www.extempgenie.com, and the cost is around $30 per device for the year.
Other supplies you may decide to invest in would include things like laptop stands, coolers, microwaves, etc. Debate meets are long, and many schools don’t help with the cost of food, so some schools bring supplies to feed kids. I started doing it this year for certain meets, and I was lucky enough to have parents volunteer to donate lunchmeat, bread, etc. Again, the bottom line is don’t let a student stop competing because of cost.
One more major cost to consider: if you have debaters (LD, CX, PF, etc.) on your team, it is a huge help to have access to online sites that provide case studies and evidence to help them build their cases. This can be a big expense, but I’d argue it’s worth it. If you are struggling financially, you can use websites such as debatecoaches.org and speechanddebate.org (and of course www.oneclapspeechanddebate.com) to get you started. Unfortunately, those are the first websites teams will check, which is why many teams have memberships to different evidence sites, such as Baylor Briefs, Squirrel Killers, West Coast Debate, etc.
If you think of other supplies I should mention, please drop me a line. I hope you have a wonderful, restful summer, and if you had students qualify for nationals, I hope you enjoy the experience.
If you have any questions or topics you would like explored, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in Kentucky!
Worland High School
Biography: Rick Dorn is a two diamond coach who has been teaching some kind of speech or theatre since 1992. He has been named Wyoming 3A Coach of the Year twice and has coached numerous students to national competition.