Hi! I haven't been on the forums in ages, but your post caught my attention. There's definitely been some really great suggestions thrown out there. I think there are some, however, that really worked for us that haven't been discussed yet. So in the hopes that this will still be helpful to you, I'll throw my oar into the waters.
First, some of the students actually don't want to do debate, but their parents force them to. How can I kindle the students' interest so that they themselves enjoy and want to do debate? Is this just a thing that takes time or is there something I'm doing wrong?
Dealing with students who don't want to be there is probably the worst for a coach who loves debate. What I figured out though, is that no one likes to lose. Especially not to nerdy debaters who are smooth speakers. Nothing is more frustrating for a novice who hates debate, other than, of course, debate.
Three things.1. Make it fun.
If it's boring, admit that it's boring, but then find something that's cool/relevant about it. Make it real for them. Sometimes, movies are very helpful. Just clips, not the whole thing, naturally. We did a "logic week" (a la shark week) where there was a daily e-mail on the fallacy shark of the day, a shark-related example of it, and then the reminder that in club, there will be a quiz. Think of it as impacting to a judge who has no clue what's going on, and is bored silly. You just have more resources with which to drive home your point.
Also, make them MOVE. The more physically involved they have to be, the more they're likely to remember it. When we taught CX strategies, I always had my "haters" be part of the CX food chain. When we did Effects-Topicality, we always did human illustrations so they wouldn't forget. I'd collect a group of about five volunteers and then say: "I am the affirmative team. I say that Bobby [bobby stands next to me], will make a face at Suzy [standing next to Bobby] who will then step on Jimmy's toe [Jimmy should make a show of hollering] and while Jimmy is waving his arms, a great wind is created that will blow our troops away from SK."
Also, be sure to let them play with fun resolutions before making them jump into a serious topic. They learn to apply stock issues and structure so much better when they're not worried about knowing something about a serious topic that requires a lot of work. Let them pick a goofy resolution. (Resolved: We should mine the moon for cheese.)2. Strategy is more important than evidence
For a TP alumnus-turned-coach, that's probably the hardest concept to grasp when coaching. Just because you and your partner had the "rolling thunder" moniker due to your huge rolling evidence suitcases and obssessive need to brief every case on the planet does not mean that your students will love it too. So the question is: when they don't love research, what skills are necessary? Stick with strategy. Those are the life-skills that sold your parents on debate to begin with. Teach them CX techniques. Teach them how to build a solid, focused Affirmative then how to play offensive Affirmative. How to pick apart a case when they don't have evidence. None of those techniques require serious topics. They'll especially appreciate the last strategy. Teach them what to question about a 1AC. Using the Socratic method is always the best way to encourage them to think and practice communicating what they're thinking about. Use your own back-ground to turn smart-alec answers into something useful.
I think it's also important that you're NOT constantly debating. Mhmm. NOT.
There are lots of teams and clubs who believe like Rebel up there that incessant practice gets results. I vehemently disagree. I believe that practice makes permanent, not perfect.
So, whole round practice should probably be once or twice a month. In the meantime, practice strategy piecemeal.
For example: Focus on delivering a good 1NC. Read the tags of a 1AC, have everyone flow it, and then have everyone practice giving a 4 minute 1NR. Sans evidence with a good solid opener and closer. Even if they're not the 1N, have them practice anyway. Call it "partner appreciation day." 3. Engage
Engage them with fun!
Sometimes, we alumnus forget that for some people, all life is not debate. When you get them into serious waters, remind them that it's ok not to take themselves too seriously. Challenge them to make funny things relevant. Things like Princess Bride quotes (never get involved in a land war in Asia??) or Chuck Norris jokes: "Judge, we believe that troops may be withdrawn from SK/Afghanistan/Japan - but only if they promise to replace the troops with Chuck Norris. Otherwise, we have xyz DAs...
Engage them by using what they know.
During the first year, the "debate is dumb" attitude is exaccerbated because they're scared and overwhelmed with what they don't know. Make them comfortable with the concept (engage them and make them communicate what they think) and they'll be a lot more interested in learning what you have to teach them. After their first tournament, they'll also be a lot more interested in research.
Second, this is a fairly new club, so trying to teach the parents is another challenge. So far, I've been recruiting the parents as timers, so they can observe the debate and speech rounds. Any suggestions on specific things I should discuss with the parents?
Unless you're trying to train the parents to be coaches, not really. But the really important stuff usually deals with the partnership issues. So again, three things:1. Goals
Ask your parents to identify what their top three goals are for their student. Are we doing this for academic only purposes? Are we trying to attend two or more tournaments? Make nationals? Do we just want to know how to talk right? (Seriously. I've heard this one before. See avatar.)2. Tournaments
Give your parents a touranment schedule. Explain the typical cost, the benefits, and the unbridled excitement a tournament presents. Ask your parents to ponder how their student will get there, who their student will partner with, and the supplies that their student will need outside the usual. For first years, DEFINITELY talk about dress code. 3. Partnerships
Parents need to know that their children will be expected to have partners. They need to talk with other parents to find parents who have similar goals. Then, they'll need your help to suggest good pairings. Usually, you'll want to make sure that you can put together students who complement each other's personalities (not likes/dislikes). However, for students who don't want to be there, pairing them with someone they can have fun with is a good way to ease them into debate.
If your club plans on hosting a tournament, that's another story entirely.
Third, I schedule specific times for us as a club to watch videos of different national ranked speakers and debaters. I also point out helpful hints for my debaters (filler words, annoying habits, clear and precise points, etc.) and discuss the importance aspects of debate (stock issues and the importance, logical fallacies and the way to identify them, etc.). What else should I be discussing for first year debaters?
Do the students get to point out what they think is wrong? Besides the fact that it's a debate round?
For students that don't want to be there, the key is to make them do the thinking. Your goal is to guide them to the answers, not give it to them. Otherwise, they'll be bored, disengaged, and they'll walk away remembering that even national debaters chew gum by accident.
Debate is a VERY common sense exercise. They (even first-year 12-year-olds) should be able to look at the speech segment and figure out what went wrong (or right) with a little prompting. Ask them things like: "Did this make sense to you? What just happened here? When the smart one (there is always one) says "they gave a speech,"
don't let it bug you. Engage the imp and ask them what the speechifier speeched about.
Why did they bring that argument up? What's the point of this speech in the round? What would you have voted on?" Take it from there based on their answers. Also, if you're not already doing this, I'd have them practice their flowing.
If they survive the first year, the ones who didn't want to be there initially, often turn into the most marvelous little debaters in their second year, or even by the end of their first year. They might still not really want to debate, but they'll know what's going on, they'll be comfortable with the concepts, and more open to research.
I've been a coach for the last 9 years and led my own club for 3 years. During those 3 years, I sent 80% (out of 3 teams, 6 teams, and 10 teams, respectively) or more of my club to nationals each year. I also taught for 3 years at PHC's debate camp as a senior instructor, and hosted/guest taught at 9 different camps in TX and OK over the last seven years.
Outside of debate, I've taught 5th and 8th grade over the last two years.
In all this time, I've had lots of experience with students who "don't want to be there." In the end, if they're engaged and encouraged to express their opinions (messy at first, then correct it as you go along), they'll cross over.
Anyway, hope all that helps.
I wish you and your club the best!