Once you have purchased your Team Pack and recruited a team (see Recruiting Kit for more information), it’s time to take care of administrative details that will set the stage for your team–and your peace of mind–for the rest of the season. You are at Stage 1 in the program: Recognize. This means becoming familiar with the Challenge, team members, and resources.
1. Download your program materials from the Resource Area. You can wait until program materials are shipped to you by Destination Imagination headquarters (DIHQ), but you can also download these materials from the Resource Area. The link to the Resource Area is at the far right end of the orange navigation bar found at the top of the redesigned Destination Imagination Web site located at http://www.destinationimagination.org. All you need in order to enter the Resource Area is a valid e-mail address and a team number that Destination Imagination provides. If for some reason you cannot find your team number(s), you can always e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll supply the missing information.
2. Familiarize yourself with the program materials, which consist of the following:
- Roadmap is a guide to help a Team Manager manage a team from its first session to a tournament. It is the perfect place to begin reading, if you have never managed a team! It includes tools, activities and practice Instant Challenges that teams can do over the course of the season. If you have never managed a team before, Roadmap is a step-by-step guide that provides details about what happens at team meetings. If you are an experienced Team Manager, you’ll find that the CPS (Creative Problem Solving) tools in this guide provide you with constructive ways to hold team discussions without interfering with the team’s idea-generating process, or with their ultimate solution.
- The Challenges section contains the complete set of rules for each of the six competitive Challenges and the non-competitive Early Learners Rising Stars!® Challenge. The Challenges themselves are divided into sections, beginning with Points of Interest, STEM Attributes, the Central Challenge, Team Choice Elements (not present in improvisational Challenge D), Presentation Site, Reward Points, and Tournament Data Form. When your team is choosing its Challenge, Points of Interest will provide the team with a summary of the main requirements of the Challenge. The STEM Attributes let you know where there are opportunities for learning in science, technology, engineering and math; these exist in every Challenge. The Central Challenge explains DI-defined rules for the main part of the Challenge, while Team Choice Elements are team-defined scoring opportunities that represent additional areas for the team to score points not already covered by the Central Challenge. The Presentation Site is a description of the competition area at tournament; it lets you know what to expect. Finally, Reward Points tells your teams exactly how they will be scored. The last few pages of every Challenge are the Tournament Data Form, which must be completed by the team (not the Team Manager) and brought to every tournament. The Early Learners Rising Stars!® Challenge is divided into similar sections with different names.
- Rules of the Road are general rules that apply to every competitive team (not Rising Stars!®). They include details about the two main components of the program, Team Challenge and Instant Challenge; team formation rules; competition levels; Team Manager guidelines; scoring; rules of Interference; the Team Budget and Expense Report; safety, and much more. Rules of the Road are superseded by Challenge rules, so if you’re not sure what rule to follow, see your team’s Challenge.
- Instant Challenge Practice Set. The Instant Challenge Practice Set does not ship with your program materials, but instead will be found in the Resource Area. The last time I checked, it had not yet been uploaded, but when it is released, you’ll want to download it right away so that your team will be able to practice Instant Challenge at every team meeting. (9/20/12 Update: The Instant Challenge Practice Guide is now available for download in the Resource Area. One week ago, we were notified that it had been discontinued, but apparently this information was not accurate.) The skills students learn from Instant Challenge follow them into their Team Challenge, and also help team members to bond together. Meanwhile, you’ll find practice Instant Challenges in Roadmap, as well as in cre8iowa’s Instant Challenge (IC) Library. Here are links to 4 new Instant Challenges that were just uploaded to the cre8iowa IC Library:
3. Prepare for your first team meeting. In general, team meetings should include a warm-up activity and/or an Instant Challenge, provide discussion time to learn about or work on the Challenge, and allow for some reflection and/or planning (which creates a bridge to the next meeting). Most teams enjoy snacks, so allow time for that! Shorter meetings are appropriate for younger students, and longer meetings for older students. Let students’ attention span be your guide. You’ll find some suggestions for time management HERE.
When I was a Team Manager, I tried to include parents at the first meeting to make sure that parents, students and I were all on the same page.
- Let parents and students know what you expect of them, and what they can expect of you. This is a good time to discuss behavioral expectations. (See Expectations for Teams in the cre8iowa Document Library.) Make sure you ask your team to set some ground rules for each other as well; they are more likely to follow rules they establish themselves. Discuss the need for an Appraiser. All teams doing competitive Challenges at Iowa tournaments are required to supply one trained adult Appraiser at both the Sub-state and State tournament. Cre8iowa provides training on one of three Saturdays in January and February that your Appraiser can select. A team parent typically fills this role, but if that is not possible, see How to Find Appraisers for other suggestions.
- Collect contact information, as well as the age, grade and birthdate of each team member. You will need some of these details for the cre8iowa Membership Registration.
- Become a cre8iowa Member. Registration information will be posted in October. Your cre8iowa Membership includes a Basic Training Podcast for Team Managers & Coordinators, an Advanced Training Workshop for Team Managers & Coordinators, Appraiser Training, e-mail/phone/blog support, and participation at all Iowa tournaments.
- Set a meeting calendar. Take into consideration competition dates (see cre8iowa Calendar HERE), the Instant Challenger team workshop in January, other student activities, holidays, family vacations and other potential schedule conflicts. When I managed a team, I also asked my team to come up with a plan for decision-making, since it was known in advance that there would be frequent occasions when not everyone would be present at team meetings. My team decided that for less important decisions, the team members who were present would make decisions; for more important decisions, they would find the time to meet, or communicate electronically with each other.
- Ask parents for their help. There are many ways that parents can be helpful, from supplying snacks at meetings to transporting props to tournament. See Ways to Get Parents Involved in the Destination ImagiNation® Program in the cre8iowa Document Library for suggestions.
- Make sure everyone understands the rules of Interference. Review and have everyone sign the Interference Contract found on page 28 of Roadmap.
- Ask for one or two students to be responsible for checking Published Clarifications on the Destination Imagination Web site. Published Clarifications supersede Challenge rules and are released whenever the Challenge writers (known as International Challenger Masters, or ICMs) determine that a particular rule needs further explanation. At every meeting, I asked my team members to report on any newly released Published Clarifications.
- Provide program materials to team members. I found it helpful for each of my team members to have a 3-ring binder that they were responsible for bringing to every meeting. The binder contained sections for Rules of the Road, the Team Challenge, Clarifications, meeting agendas, and discussion notes (in the students’ own words). After a tournament, I also made photocopies of Appraiser comments and the Raw Score sheets, and distributed them to students for their binders. The purpose of the binder is not only to help students stay organized, but also to help them take ownership of their Challenge.
- Establish an Instant Challenge routine at every team meeting. Ahead of time, print Appraiser and team copies of a practice Instant Challenge, and collect the materials. As a Team Manager, I found it convenient to store Instant Challenge materials in large Ziploc® bags. I clipped them to skirt hangers in a closet, ready-to-go anytime!
- Start collecting ideas for warm-up activities that you can use at meetings to build teamwork. Teamwork does not happen overnight; even with an experienced team, students grow and change, and require team-building activities. You’ll find suggestions for team-building in the Document Library.
4. Most importantly, have FUN with your teams. If students are having fun, you’re doing something right!
Note: Many of the links in this post point to items found in the cre8iowa Document Library. You may find it helpful to visit this location our Web site.