banner I have been a Lego League coach since 2007. This year, I wanted to document the season to give rookie coaches a resource to help them through to competition. The process can be intense, but it can also be a lot of fun for you and your team.

I hope to cover enough through my posts, but if I leave anything out, please feel free to leave a comment, or contact me.
Aug
29th

The First Meeting

Author: fllCoach | Files under About Lego League
  • If you’re a rookie coach, read up on Lego League
  • Introduce kids to each other
  • Have kids interview each other or play an ice breaker game
  • Pick a team name
  • Assign homework of creating a t-shirt design
  • Have parents fill out sign-up sheet
  • Establish a regular schedule with the parents

Your first team meeting will be an introduction meeting. Parents should attend. You will introduce yourself to the parents, parents to each other, kids to each other, and everyone to Lego League.

If you are a rookie coach, try to find a non-rookie coach to come to your first meeting and help you introduce what Lego League is all about. If a more experienced coach is not available, that’s ok. Just tell your team and their parents what you know. If you’re up front with them, they will understand that you are learning as you go like they are. They’ll get a better idea as they hear from their child as the season progresses.

This meeting should be all about getting to know one another as a team. Your team is probably thrown together from a school or organization and while there will probably be some friends in the mix, not everyone will know everyone. You, especially, won’t know the kids.

Go around the room and introduce yourselves. The way you introduce yourself as coach will establish your coaching style. A lot of kids these days call adults by their first names. Personally, I like “Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Smith” as it establishes respect for elders. Being called “Coach Smith” is ok, too. Or simply, “Coach.”

When the kids introduce themselves, have them say something about themselves. I usually tell them to say their name, their grade, why they decided to join a Lego League team, and something fun–like what their favorite food is.

You can take it a step further and have the kids interview each other. You can give them example questions like: what’s your favorite subject in school? Who’s your favorite singer/band? What did you do this summer? Come up with a few of your own. You could also play an ice breaker game. They are fun and get the kids to communicate with each other.

The last thing you should do in your first meeting is to come up with a team name. Let the kids brainstorm ideas. Have them throw in their school mascot for a few of the ideas. Also make sure they are cognizant of the research topic for the year. Our school mascot is a wolf, so for the research topic of climate change, we were called the “Weather Wolves.” And for the topic of transportation, we were the “Wolves on Wheels.” Sticking with school or organization themes, or research topic themed names, isn’t necessary of course. You’ll be surprised by the kids’ creativity.

Finally, you should give the team some homework. You’ll want to have a team t-shirt for the competition. Now that you’ve established a name, ask each team member to draw a t-shirt design and bring it to the next meeting. They’ll then vote on the one they like the best and you or one of the parents can start the process of having them made.

While all the above is happening with the kids, try to get a helper to complete a few items of business with the parents. Have a sign-up sheet (download) to get all the families’ contact information so you can communicate with them throughout the season. Schedule meetings for the first two months, once or twice a week, whatever you decide. This will set their expectations for time commitment. These weekly meetings will carry over into the third month and you will be adding more meetings as needed when you get closer to competition. Make sure the parents know it could get busier. That will give the parents a chance to pull their child out should they decide they already have too many activities.

The first meeting is always a scary one. You don’t think you know what you’re doing. But since you’ve signed up as coach, you’ve done the most research and the kids and parents will be looking to you for guidance. Remember, it’s ok to be just one page ahead in the book. Once you get this first meeting under your belt, you’ll feel better. Take some time beforehand to learn about Lego League–either from the web site or other coaches–and the meeting will go smoothly. I promise.


10 responses. Wanna say something?

  1. coachnikkipdx
    Sep 12, 2010 at 00:51:07
    #1

    Found your site on the US First forums: Tiups for new coaches. As I have the very first Team Meeting this coming Tuesday 9/14, I’m getting way anxious…and what I was hoping for was to find a few sample meeting adgendas posted there. But, let me tell you where I am in the process so your comments can be more tailored to our situation:

    I’m starting a Robotics Program at a public k-8 environmental focus school in Portland, OR. I was recruiting last May by Cathy Swider, the Program Administrator of the Oregon Robotics Tournaments and Outreach Program (ORTOP), which coordinates all US First events in Oregon. We were at the dog park & my 10 year old son was wearing his school t-shirt. Cathy was there, and said to us: “I love that school!” So, of course, we started a conversation, where I discovered that her daughter had attended the school years ago, and now that she’s in college, her memories of her experiences there are fond. Cathy told me that she was now ORTOP”s adminstrator, and basically recruited me on the spot. I’d just been looking for something for my son to do that wouyld keep him hooked into academics; what with middle school and puberty approaching, I didn’t want to loose him to other, less healthy activities…little did I know what I was getting into!

    Once I cleared everything with the principal (who’d been trying, to my suprise, to get the program re-started since Cathy’s team over 9 years ago!) and the district, I took all the classes, etc… then I was contacted by over 30 parents who wanted their k-3 kids to participate…so I created The SES Robotics Program, which would have both jfll and fll programs.

    Since I’m the only parent out of over 1100 at SES who’s certified to coach an fll team, I get that job, too. I’ve recruited my mentors, and coaches and mentors for the jfll teams.

    So, rather than have the first meeting be with the team members and the parents, I’ve decided to hold a mandatory parent’s meeting on Monday, and all parents who have a child participating in The Program, in jfll or fll, have to attend. I’ll take 30 mins. to explain The SES Robotics Program and all that, and then divide the group into their parent teams, with their child’s team coach: I’ll then take all the fll parents and go over what the expectations are for both them and their child, answer questions, etc..

    the first official FLL Team Meeting, with me , the team mentors, and the 8 kids, will take place on Tuesday 9/14 from 3:15-4:30pm. in a room that I secured just for The Robotics Program. But here’s where I’m getting anxious: I’ve told the fll kids all summer to begin brainstorming for team names since that will be one of the first orders of business, along with introductions, (name, why they want to be on the team, etc… Could use some suggestions in this specific area!), sorting LEGOS, table & possibly field set-up, and then…I wanted them to program an adult to do a simple task…like retrieve an eraser from another classroom…so they can begin to understand what programming is about, and see the precision involved, as well as work in a team and have alot of fun on the first day. Then, I was going to give them homework…although I’m not exactly sure what yet (suggestions? beside t-shirt design, I mean) and then end the meeting.

    I’m anxious because it seems like we’re starting late in getting going with The Challenge. And we’re an all-rookie team, with a rookie coach and rookie mentors! I’m a bit scared that we won’t pull it off on time and the kids will fell too pressured to enjoy their first year experience. And as you can see, it’s crucial that they all have great experiences, or else there will be no program next year at SES!

    So, do you have any of your first meeting adenga’s lying around somewhere that you could share with me? And do you know of another site which might have these? Especially for all-rookie teams who are starting late! Minus, of course, the parent presence at this meeting… so we can just focus on The Team and The Body Forward Challenge.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and answer this. I realize it’s long, but I try to be precise. Oh, btw, I have NO background in tech; I’m a free-lance writer and retired family & child therapist.

    -Coach Nikki in Portland
    The SES Program Admin. & FLL Team Coach

  2. fllCoach
    Sep 12, 2010 at 21:11:52
    #2

    Nikki,

    I can understand why you are anxious. There is a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. But there is more time than you think to do everything you need to.

    You haven’t started too late. There are lots of teams that will be having their first meeting this week like you will. Give them one lesson/task each meeting and you’ll be surprised how they will put it all together in the end. I don’t usually have an agenda for meetings because of the fact that I usually only cover one subject per meeting. As you said, the important thing is to make sure the kids have fun.

    In looking at what you are trying to accomplish in your first meeting, I think you are trying to do too much. If you spend a half hour talking to the parents like you are planning to, that leaves only 45 minutes to pick team names, do the field set up and program a parent. The kids and parents will barely remember what you said in the first 30 minutes, let alone what you try to do in the 45 minutes afterward. Not only that, but 45 minutes is not nearly enough time to accomplish all those tasks.

    Building the mat pieces will take several hours even with a team of 8 kids. Programming a parent will also take a good hour and a half to two hours. Trying to squeeze all of that into one meeting will put the pressure on the kids that you are trying to avoid.

    I am writing posts for what I am doing the week or so before I actually do them with my team. So if you follow my posts, you will be on pretty much the same track I will be.

    Also be aware that even a few weeks before the competition, it will seem like the team hasn’t done much. I will tell you from experience that that isn’t unusual. Things come together very quickly in the last few weeks, so don’t be alarmed if it feels like you’re not making much progress. The kids will get it all together.

    If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to ask. I am here to help.

  3. Pebblekeper - Angie
    Sep 16, 2010 at 11:22:14
    #3

    Thank you so much for this post. I am like Nikki, a willing rookie mom. 🙂 We are waiting for the arrival of the Robot and the Field Kit – so I am looking for things to do with our meeting tomorrow. Thank you for writing it out – and reminding us to keep it simple, step by step. I’m so full of the big picture from all of the training, that I am trying to not overwhelm parents and 9 year olds. 🙂

    Thank you for saying you will post here weekly – I will check in and see if we are on the same track. 🙂

  4. fllCoach
    Sep 16, 2010 at 23:42:48
    #4

    Welcome, Angie. If you need any help, don’t be afraid to ask.

  5. Susan
    Oct 3, 2010 at 19:06:54
    #5

    This is our first year of FLL activity. My husband is the technical coach, and I handle the administrative side. I am so glad to find your website.

    So far, I have registered the team and ordered robot and field mat. (Done on 9/27. Received everything on 9/30. First meeting on 10/2)

    Question 1: We start the team with 2 teammates due to the extremely tight schedule. We cannot take a third teammate this year. Would this be a problem for participating in FLL?

    Question 2: Do we need to enter all teammates’ data in the official team registration site? I cannot find the specific link to this change.

    Susan

  6. fllCoach
    Oct 3, 2010 at 20:49:07
    #6

    If I’m understanding you correctly, you will only have a two person team? While it’s possible to have a team with just two people, it is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work even for an 8 person team. If you could add more people, it would be better. Many teams are just starting, so you still have time to get a team oriented.

    You do not need to enter the names of the team members into any web site. You will fill out a disclaimer form before competition that will include all the team members’ names for you local competitions. The national FLL organization does not need this information.

  7. Susan
    Oct 4, 2010 at 17:57:45
    #7

    What do we need to accomplish for the qualifier event during 11/10 and 12/10?

    How about the search project? Do we need to present a paper at this event or only at the super region competition?

  8. fllCoach
    Oct 5, 2010 at 09:57:56
    #8

    You should check with your state organization to get the full details of what you need to have done. However, if your qualifiers are anything like our regional tournaments, you’ll have to have everything done. You’ll need to have your robot be able to complete missions, have your program(s) ready for review, and do a five minute presentation outlining your research. You don’t need a “paper” per se, but your team does need to present their problem and solution in some kind of presentation.

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