Sunday, January 22, 2006

Debate -- thoughts of coaching at a CC

There are several challenges---
• You always have freshmen and sophomores, never juniors and seniors… by the time you get them broken in and winning rounds, they are gone and beating your new freshmen and sophomores.
• Many teams and quite a few judges look down their noses at your debaters and your judging. D1 often makes them sorry --- which is a fun moral victory – but, he is the exception.
• A high teaching load makes it hard to travel for competition. With a teaching circle and debate (which is a class with homework etc..) I am still teaching three classes in my major. This is a normal teaching load for most colleges… I have about 125 non-debate students in three sections. For my discipline at my school this is a small number of students, for other disciplines this is a lot.
• It is good that we can get students debate scholarships… it would be even better if some of them had grades good enough to take them.

I’m seriously thinking about not coaching next year – just calling off the debate thing all together. I don’t yet have a solid group of debaters for next year… I haven’t asked for a budget… although that wouldn’t be a “the end of the world” kind of discussion… “I’ve decided that I’m not doing debate anymore, it is too much work and I simply don’t have the time to do it and finish my dissertation… by the way here is X thousand dollars we won’t be spending this year, spread it around…”.

My reasons for thinking about this…
• My dissertation – teaching doesn’t have to be hugely time consuming for the next couple of years… I should be able to find time to do more dissertation work if I didn’t have many weeks where I’m traveling from Thursday to Monday.
• Assuming Hubby finishes his, if he gets a job outside of BNstate, I’ll have to go on the market again – and doing so in my discipline, even on the CC market is kind of hard. Granted, I’ll have a bunch of teaching experience and good recommendations from BNCC,
• The D1 situation makes me sad--- and mad – especially knowing I’d been deceived.
• See the first three points above..
• The travel makes a normal family life difficult – and I might actually want to have or adopt kids sooner or later. The travel also makes a social life or hobbies very difficult.
• I don’t want to do a half-assed program – and jerk host school makes it so that we have to travel to do decent debate.
• Hubby is getting pressure from his advisor (“dick-head of the conference”—DHC) DHC makes some good points…. Namely that hubby isn’t even getting paid to help me and debate is taking away significant time from his work.
• For goodness sakes, it is Sunday morning, 7AM and I just woke up in a Super 8 in Seward, NE. Today we will do a tournament AND drive most or all of the way home.
• Debate politics in my home state SUCK. They think NIFA is “knife-you” but they are 100 times worse… NIFA is dysfunctional for sure – everyone admits that -- BNState is malevolent and condescending at the same freaking time.
• I’m on my third piece of nearly disposable luggage… i.e. I’ve either outgrown or worn out several suitcases in the last few years.
• When I am at home: I sometime think about time in terms of “rounds”, my alarm clock as a wake-up call, get confused when I can’t find my room key on my home key ring, I look for the debaters before I leave Target or the grocery store, I want to call my debaters about 30 minutes before I leave home to make sure they are up…
• I’m 37 – is this what I’ll be doing at 47??? I really hope not. It isn’t helpful for my discipline and I really don’t want it to be helpful for my career (i.e. if I leave BNCC I’m NOT going to start a team again…).

So – why have I done this for 9 years???
• The students – getting to really know and help Rex, D1 (maybe help.. we’ll see), D2 and some others has been very worthwhile. They are smart people and very worthy of my time and effort.
• My debate coach friends are great – and especially at this tournament I get to see them all… from my mentor Mr. Fashion, to my cultural lesbian friends and all the rest – they are great people who are the sorts that are willing to put themselves out for students – willing to travel weekends so they’ll have the opportunity to compete and they are genuinely caring people. These are the ones I’ll miss –
• I’ll miss seeing former competitors and people I’ve judged now judging. There is one girl here who seems to credit my ballots with teaching her to debate. I’m not so sure I really WANT credit for that, but it is probably true. Her coach was one of my debate friends – and I’m not so sure they did too many practice rounds when this girl was around… she’s sweet and seems to have learned a lot from debate…
• I like debate itself. Maybe not all the forms are my favorites – but hearing a well articulated argument – thinking about something in a new way etc – is a very good thing.,
• “Hashmere”, “palm trees don’t exist” “the Pacific Ocean is salty” etc… debaters say the darndest things…

What are my options:
• Quit now – tell them I’m not doing the debate class next year and that I want another philosophy class..
• Hang on for a year – tell the speech people and my dean in the fall that this is my last year, that I’ve established budget lines and the class and that if they want it to continue I’ll help them search for someone to teach speech and coach debate.
• Quit after nationals in March – tell them that Century debate has had it’s last trip with me. That I’m retiring as a debate coach and want to stay home and spend time with my cats…

I think the only reasonable option is the second one…. It gives everyone tons of notice etc… and gives them the chance to choose to keep it going or not.

The problem may come if they really want to keep me doing it. What will they have to do?

• Get me a co-coach… If we are going to do this, we should do 4-5 tournaments per semester. I’m not sure I can reasonably travel to more than 3 per semester… and not back-to-back weekends.
• Release time for debate – no more than 3 philosophy classes to teach per semester. I could do 4 philosophy if someone else was doing the debate class – I suppose…
• Release me from committees etc – my only extra-curricular thing would be debate.

Time to get in the shower, get packed, go win a tournament, stop in Des Moines for some sleep, drive the rest of the way back tomorrow to be at BNCC in time for class, only to come home after debate practice for the newbie debaters about 9:30 PM.. aargh…

The good news is that a former competitor I judged a lot will be here today with a couple of new teams from BN state--- it will be GREAT to see her… again, the female coach friend tournament for me… Of course, the bad news is that if D2 and Red don’t do well we can leave here at 2:30 or so and be home tonight… is that really bad news… well, their not being in elim rounds is bad news, but being home isn’t. Divided motivations or home as a consolation prize, you decide.

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