Finding Team Members & Coaches

Something about OotM appeals to everyone – whether it’s performance, writing, music, art, design, engineering or something else entirely. All students stand to benefit from this experience.

Participation can be facilitated by a teacher, parent or any volunteer with a passion for the program. There’s no “right” way to form a team, and no single method or selection process will produce one that’s more likely to succeed than any other. However it’s assembled, each team will present a range of personalities and interests that will take the educational tools of the program and forge them into something unique.

Here are just a few ways to find team members and some advice on building a team.

To start, you might consider kids who are already friends. If you’re a parent who wants to coach your child’s team, his/her friends are as good a group as any to face the challenges of team building, communication, and critical thought.

Though, for a variety of reasons, friendship isn’t always a feasible means of selection — you and your child may be new at a school, or you may not be a parent at all. In which case, you should recruit.

With administrative approval, hold an informational meeting at your school/community group. Post fliers around campus inviting students who may be interested in joining a team or just want to learn more about the program. Appeal to their innate curiosity and imagination…be creative!

If your meeting generates an enormous response, you might start an after school club (once a week, for example, for X number of weeks). Contact us for the kinds of activities that are engaging for kids and will also help identify children to shepherd through a season of creative problem solving.

And review the section here about “Finding Coaches,” because you may need more of them, too!

Coaching an Odyssey of the Mind team is an experience unlike any other. Coaches motivate, promote trust, and celebrate their team’s breakthroughs and accomplishments. It’s an exciting and rewarding opportunity for all involved.

Each team is required to have one head coach who must be at least 18 years of age. An assistant coach (or coaches) can lighten that load by sharing the role’s responsibilities.

While OotM is a very hands-on experience for the team, it’s hands-off for adults. A coach should provide a positive, constructive environment for students to exchange ideas…but never help the team with their solution. A coach supervises, offers encouragement, and teaches the team how to learn from failures and evaluate their own solutions.

So who can be a coach?

Actually, just about anyone. No advanced degree or formal experience is required. (Though the region does host trainings for new and returning coaches — all you have to do is ask!)

Often a coach is a parent or teacher who already knows a student on the team. Coaches can be aunts, uncles, grandparents, older siblings, or anyone with an interest in the program. If you’re having trouble finding coaches, try holding an informational meeting for parents, students and faculty/community members. Create some buzz, and the kids won’t be the only ones excited about OotM.

Promote assistant coaching — divide and conquer! — and provide a network for communication between the coaches and parents at your school. It takes a village, as they say, and OotM is best for all when a team and its coach(es) have their parents’ and school’s support.