Friday, March 18, 2016

Helen's Odyssey of the Mind Experience

Helen had a fantastic Odyssey coach - the same woman that coaches her soccer team. Her coach had participated in the program as a kid, and was excited to coach a team. When I was getting the program off the ground, my biggest fear was not being able to find a coach for Connor and Helen and I contemplated coaching two teams. That would've made me completely insane, and because of the demands of Connor's team, I'm guessing Helen's would've fallen through the cracks somewhat.

When I told the woman who would eventually become Helen's coach that I hadn't had anyone volunteer to coach a team - but I had one parent with experience volunteer to assist, she jumped right in. It was at that moment that I knew we could have a successful year.

Did the primary teams get started off on a good foot? No. Did everything end up completely perfect and awesome for Helen? Yes.

The original team I put together was a mixed gender team that included a boy up the street who was in class with Helen in first grade. Both the first grade teacher and the gifted teacher have observed the two work well together, so I was excited for this collaboration. The original team included a male and female coach, which both coaches (who have previous experience) thought was good. As things would play out, another parent ran a huge recruiting effort which resulted in two additional teams. Helen and this student were split. She ended up being placed on an all-girl team, and after hearing comments from three of the four other coaches, I'm confident saying that Helen's team was clearly the team that worked the best together.

By the time competition day arrived, Helen had been talking about her skit for weeks. She went from wanting a very tiny part to wanting a much more central role. She handled the larger role beautifully. She was confident, she delivered her lines well, her acting was fantastic.

Most importantly, she's very excited to be on a team next year, and has asked me to coach her team. While coaching two teams would've have been crazy this year, if it comes to that next year, I know exactly how to handle it. Particularly since the middle school lets out much earlier than the elementary school. I told Helen I'd coach her team if she needed me, but did point out that she had a great experience with two coaches this year and I didn't want to mess with that.

This has been such a fun experience. I am so glad to have brought the program to the elementary school. Hopefully, it'll get some big roots and continue to grow.


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