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  • Coach Involvement

    Before this year, there was a core value stating: "We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors". Of course, the core values have changed for this year. This value was removed.
    In past years and also this year, there is a category in the rubrics that says "Kids to the work - Appropriate balance between team responsibility and coach guidance."

    Using the RULES and handbooks (not, "I just feel..."), is it NOW not against the rules for the coaches or even mentors to do much of the work? Taken to an extreme, could a coach or mentor now be physically building and/or coding the robot out in the open during a qualifier, with no recourse possible from event organizers? Previously, event directors/head judges could disqualify a team for that extreme example.

  • #2
    Great question! There probably is not a clear statement in the current rules or the Coaches' Handbook that outlines what actions by a coach or mentor are unacceptable.

    There was some discussion in another thread about the rework of the core values and the Coaches' Handbook. The Core Values were seemingly reworked to bring them more in line with the FTC and FRC programs. The Coaches' Handbook has been reduced to most links to other resources. The expectation seems to be that coaches will register and look at the materials in the First Steps online course.

    https://forums.usfirst.org/forum/gen...ew-core-values


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    • #3
      Originally posted by timdavid View Post
      There was some discussion in another thread about the rework of the core values and the Coaches' Handbook.
      I did indeed see that, but it barely touched on my question.

      Originally posted by timdavid View Post
      Great question! There probably is not a clear statement in the current rules or the Coaches' Handbook that outlines what actions by a coach or mentor are unacceptable.
      My initial sentiment is what you said above.
      I'd love the thoughts of others too.

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      • #4
        ThomasTT
        Norfolk, Virginia, USA
        FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

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        • #5
          ThomasTT , you aren't wrong. Going just from the rules (and FLL has a tendency to make lawyers out of all of us), I don't see anything that would disqualify a team if the coach did a lot of the work. I really hope it doesn't come to the point where you have coaches writing code or building robots at tournaments, but I suppose it could happen. It was my understanding that the re-write was to make the CV more in line with FTC/FRC, which is generally a good idea. Get the kids used to the CV in FLL, then there won't be any surprises when they advance to FTC/FRC.

          However, FTC & FRC do not seem to mind as much when coaches do significant amounts of work on the robots, so I personally feel this is a mistake. They do need to bring this back to FLL, in my opinion.
          Norfolk, Virginia, USA
          FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

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          • #6
            I'd like FLL to bring back the "Coaches' Promise", which used to be on the inside cover of the old Coaches' Handbook.

            http://fll.larobotics.org/resources/...es+Promise.pdf

            The first three items were:

            1) The children come first. FLL is about the children having fun and getting excited about science and technology. Everything my team does starts and ends with this principle.

            2) The children do the work. This is their opportunity to learn and grow. The children on my team do all of the programming, research, problem solving, and building. Adults can help them find the answers, but cannot give them answers or make decisions.

            3) My team is comprised of ten or fewer members (all team members participate on only one team), registered as an official FLL team, and all team members are no older than 14 on January 1st of the Challenge year.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
              Going just from the rules (and FLL has a tendency to make lawyers out of all of us), I don't see anything that would disqualify a team if the coach did a lot of the work.
              In an email sent out by the regional partner prior to qualifier tournaments this season, teams in my region (North Texas) were told that, among other things, coaches or other adults seen handling a robot, attachments, computer, posters, costumes, props, etc would be given a Core Values Red Flag Penalty (or something similar) which would disqualify the team from all awards and advancement. The one exception was in the case of a logging onto or rebooting a computer, in which case coaches were urged to have a judge, ref or at least another coach present to ensure that the adult was only helping to get the computer back to the state where the kids could do the work. We had to get special permission to allow an adult to help carry the cart we use to transport our robots and laptop up a set of stairs to get to the robot design judging room (lots of young, not terribly tall or strong kids on my team). So, while it might not have been specifically called out in the official rules, at least at the tournaments in my region it was very clear that the adults were not to be doing any of the work. I was surprised to see it worded so strongly and so specifically enforced (adults can't carry a poster through the halls?) but I guess there was at least one issue in a previous tournament which caused the rule to be written (at least one of the other tournament rules was written specifically because of something I'd done in the past, so that makes sense.)


              --
              Fort Worth Robotics - North Texas Region Team #455
              Technical coach, baker of the cookies, keeper of the time, transporter of the travel field walls, finder of the spare parts, maker of the pop culture references that only the other tall people understand.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gt0163c View Post

                In an email sent out by the regional partner prior to qualifier tournaments this season, teams in my region (North Texas) were told that, among other things, coaches or other adults seen handling a robot, attachments, computer, posters, costumes, props, etc would be given a Core Values Red Flag Penalty (or something similar) which would disqualify the team from all awards and advancement. The one exception was in the case of a logging onto or rebooting a computer, in which case coaches were urged to have a judge, ref or at least another coach present to ensure that the adult was only helping to get the computer back to the state where the kids could do the work. We had to get special permission to allow an adult to help carry the cart we use to transport our robots and laptop up a set of stairs to get to the robot design judging room (lots of young, not terribly tall or strong kids on my team). So, while it might not have been specifically called out in the official rules, at least at the tournaments in my region it was very clear that the adults were not to be doing any of the work. I was surprised to see it worded so strongly and so specifically enforced (adults can't carry a poster through the halls?) but I guess there was at least one issue in a previous tournament which caused the rule to be written (at least one of the other tournament rules was written specifically because of something I'd done in the past, so that makes sense.)

                This is the kind of stupidity that drives coaches to do nothing and results in teams learning nothing.

                I have a love/hate relationship with "Kids do the work". It is the best guiding principle ever and the worst rule. Unfortunately too many see it as a rule. I ignnore it as a judging category and replace it with my own caregory "Robotics knowledge". I care that a coach made mistakes, and I will try to correct that, but I won't compound the injury to the team by lowering their evaluation. It would be one thing if it were clearly documented what coaches can and cannot do, but that has never been the case in FLL. Even then I don't see why I should punish children for the actions of their coach.

                No touching robots or computers at a tournament sounds like an overreaction to complaints from overzealous police parents. It is designed to prevent an uncomfortable confrontation, not improve coaching. I must confess that if this rule was in affect at our tournaments none of my teams would ever advance. I touch the robot all the time. I touch the computer. I sort parts to reduce anxiety. I show young siblings how to build "battle tops" or grabber arms out of LEGO. I refuse to change how I act just because we are at a tournament. I refuse to make my team think they did something wrong when i showed them that a rigid beam connection requires two pins or when I showed them how to grab wires and move them in the editor.
                Last edited by Dean Hystad; 01-15-2019, 08:22 AM.

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                • #9
                  Agree that "zero tolerance" approaches are rarely the answer. Event officials use things like that, just as Dean says to avoid confrontation and to avoid having to actually render a judgement of what the kids actually know.

                  "In my experience..." - most events seem to have warm or non frigid bodies for volunteer judges, or the ones with too much heat, come with ugly baggage from their own teams or coaching experiences. Few events (again in my encounters) have a Dean or some sane arbitrator able to assess a team's true robotics knowledge.

                  Judge "certification" seems to stress more about procedure than content, but was perhaps an attempt at getting deeper into it.


                  As a ref, I admonish coaches that "coach" during the robot game. Sure, cheer em on, calm them down, rev them up - but don't tell em what program to run or what to do with that yellow bar sticking up off their bot. But as I age, I seem to worry less about this. Other than perhaps appeasing some "other" team that thinks that team is getting unfair guidance, I am doing little to help that team or that coach. Maybe a quiet chat to the side, dunno. Sure, it irks me - mostly as a parent/coach not as a ref, to see another adult "rob" experiences away from kids to face all these challenges themselves. But agree, that more "rules" and "event mandates", are not really helping.

                  I do think coaches should be quite involved. You can't just dump LEGO on the table and walk in 45 minutes later with cookies and expect a working bot. The amount of involvement I think would be high in the beginning, more teaching and shared experiments with the basics of building, programming, strategizing. Then less and less as the season progresses and work on actual FLL tasks ensues. Should every team (coach/kid combo) have the same curve? Nah, everyone is different, you have to match up to what is handed you. But yea, coaches should avoid situations where their team can just "copy" something - be that a coach creation or YT video or last year's bot, etc. That is theft. No, I am not saying the kids are stealing another's creation...the coach is robbing the kids of the experience to all this problem solving and other experiences.

                  If you do that, you are back to most school classroom tactics. Memorize/copy X and give it back later on some test. None of it to ever really sink in and make a difference.

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