Jump to content

Novice Practice

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone, so I need some serious advice from the community. After many years of attempted recruiting I finally have four novices (yay) but there is a slight problem. Once past the initial Policy 101 phase (explaining what it is, what is an offcase/oncase argument, flowing) I really do not know what to do. Some of the alumni from my school are starting to get mad at me because I can not "run a practice correctly" and honestly between my partner being the good for nothing varsity captain that he is, I am in charge of writing out everything for us and everything for our novices, not to mention balancing all of this and school work (6 college courses and a couple advanced high school courses). Can someone please recommend me a schedule or guidelines for a novice practice, our school only allows us to meet twice a week and I make them sign up for the library after-school on Wednesdays to do debate work, however it is not mandatory or approved of by our coach. Thanks in advance.




Edit: also if someone who bought the Fist of Foucault file on evazon could pm me that would be great.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Nathan, I completely forgot about the debate coaches page. The advice requiring more than one coach or more than one varsity member is kinda irrelevant b/c my team does not have a debate coach, we have an adviser but not a team coach and on the varsity squad its just my partner and I. Otherwise thanks man.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Also here's the Starters Kit for the NYCUDL. Not only does it have some starter files (open evidence might work better than this), but it also has a really cool handbook that outlines activities and ways to teach arguments. In addition it includes a sample curriculum to follow when teaching novices. It's pretty awesome, you should check it out.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...