Teaching students critical debate skills is your key responsibility as a coach. SEDA coaches are a cooperative group that share resources and help each other’s students. The website has a plethora of valuable resources written by fellow coaches and debaters in the debating section.
Debate is an activity that requires a lot of growth, both from the coach and the debater. Every lesson within your club is a part of a learning trajectory towards a larger goal. Ensure that the level of instruction you are preparing is suited to the experience level of your club. Students should be able to answer the following questions throughout a lesson:
- What will I be able to do at the end of today’s lesson?
- What do I have to learn to be able to do it?
- How will I be asked to show that I can do it?
- How well will I be expected to do it?
When dealing with larger clubs, there are always differing levels of understanding and experience. If you have multiple coaches, try dividing the class to teach different skills. If you are the only coach of a large club, focus on the same area of skills (argumentation for example) and explain two or three levels of the skill. This allows younger students to practice the level one skill while advanced students can practice at a higher level. The structure of a lesson should be formatted in a consistent style. Like teaching, coaching debate uses a gradual release cycle:
Model and explain
Describe the skill or concept you want students to learn about today so students are clear what the objective is. Model the skill for your students, or have an experienced student give an example and a non-example of the skill.
Walk students through the individual components of the selected skill. Practice the pieces of the skill in multiple ways.
Performance of understanding
Give students an opportunity to perform the complete skill.
After their attempt at the skill, students are given detailed feedback so they can improve. Read about giving good feedback
Opportunity to use feedback to improve performance
Give the students many opportunities in future classes to combine the new skill with others.