Winning a School Debate Through Teamwork

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
Winning a School Debate Through Teamwork

Can you imagine playing an entire basketball match by yourself? Think of your favorite movie or TV show. Could it have been made by only one person? Do you think your school would function if it was just one teacher doing everything? No matter how motivated you are, or how hard you might try, these things are not possible alone. Teamwork is what makes it… work! No matter where you go in the world or what goals you choose to pursue, learning to work with other people will help you achieve more, faster while having fun along the way.

As you grow older, your projects and assignments become even more challenging. You might need more people to work together to accomplish great results. If you look at the major human achievements throughout history, they were successes because of the many people contributing to the effort. Imagine how many people needed to work together to launch a space shuttle, for example! In other words, teamwork is critical for the success of all kinds of projects.

Working in a team requires everyone to play their part. But we need to remember that each person, family, culture, and team is different. So, how exactly do we make teamwork… work? Well, in this article, you will learn three skills for effective teamwork, that will not only help you in debate or in school projects but also throughout your life.

· First: start with respect.

· Second: share responsibilities.

· And third: simplify and repeat. An easy way to remember these teamwork skills is to think about those who have lots of experience working in teams! Typically, older and more experienced people, or “seniors.” So, we can remember these three skills with the letters S and R. Let's look at each skill one by one.

First – start with respect. This is the first skill because we must approach new and old relationships with an open mind and ready to learn. We can learn something from everyone in this world! What does starting with respect look like? Here are a few ideas:

· Listening patiently while others are speaking, not interrupting them.

· Taking notes while others are speaking to show you’re listening, not staring out of the window.

· Thanking a coach, teammate, judge, parent, or friend for their feedback and ideas, not dismissing them without hearing their complete set of ideas.

· Speaking at a reasonable volume, not yelling or speaking louder than someone else during a discussion.

· Also, this means that away from the team setting, we should speak positively about others, not using put-downs or mean and disrespectful language.

· Finally, this means respecting yourself and the hard work that you've put in, not using “loser talk,” and saying phrases like, "We're going to lose."

Starting with respect is about acting from a mindset of openness and care for others, while still being confident in your own abilities. This is the foundation of great teamwork.

Second - share responsibilities. The examples mentioned earlier, such as creating a TV show or movie, playing a basketball match, or engaging in a debate, all require teammates. But why do we need more than one person to complete all of these challenges? Because we need to divide the work into smaller pieces! Here are a few ideas on how to do this.

First, openly discussing at the start of a project what each person will focus on, not waiting until the last minute to decide. This is especially important during group preparation time! Clarifying where each person's strengths and weaknesses lie, not expecting everyone to be perfect at everything. Second, writing down who is doing what so that it's clear to everyone, not keeping all the information in your head. Also, this means that if two people really want to have similar roles, we are open to alternating and allowing everyone to try, not restricting an opportunity to just one person. Finally, this also means working our absolute hardest to finish the responsibilities that we agreed to take on, not stopping midway through just because it became difficult. Sharing responsibility is about trusting your teammates to complete their work because you will complete yours. Working hard to achieve the goal together is the key for great teamwork.

But not every team works perfectly! That's natural – we’re all human and we make mistakes. The most common mistake teams make is often assuming that the other person (or people) understand each other perfectly. This might not be the case and you won’t know it unless you clarify and confirm understanding.

That brings us on to the third point - simplify and repeat. Once your partner or teammate is finished speaking, you should simplify and repeat back to confirm your understanding. Imagine you and your teammate, Sarah, are discussing how to prioritize your time for preparing a class presentation. After listening to what Sarah tells you, simplifying and repeating it back to her might sound like this: "OK, thanks Sarah. So, if I understood you correctly, what you’re saying is that you’d like to finish our team preparation tomorrow night, rather than tonight, because of the test tomorrow, right?"

By simplifying and repeating the message to your teammates, you can show them that you were listening and that you respect them. Give this a try next time you're working in a team - it's amazing how simple and effective the “simplify and repeat” question can be! If you don't simplify and repeat, it's also amazing to see how often we really misunderstand each other, unintentionally.

Growing together as a team is not easy. But once a team does work together effectively, the results can be far greater than what each person could have achieved on their own. Remember, older people often have more experience working in teams, so remind yourself of seniors – SRs – to remember the core teamwork skills of “start with respect,” “share responsibility,” and “simplify and repeat.”

Next time you’re preparing for a debate, a group project, or maybe even launching a commercial spaceship, remember that teamwork absolutely does make the dream work!

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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike