At the beginning of this school year I had no idea that we would have a FIRST robotics team at our school. I received an email about possible grants to fund teams and my first thought was, “I don’t know anything about robotics. How can I lead a team?” The next day another teacher mentioned the email and we talked about how great it would be to have a team and how much our students would learn. I decided I would fill out the paperwork and see what happened. What happened next taught me the first lesson of the season: The only talent you need is caring about your students. I put an announcement in our school bulletin and immediately got a response from the student body. My worries about not being equipped to run a team were immediately alleviated when I saw the astoundingly diverse talents that the students already possessed. Each on had something to offer. Between them they could weld, program, and do metalworking, pneumatics, and a host of other things. They each had skills that they were just waiting to show off. The best part was watching them learn from each other.
The second lesson I learned was: Work early and work often. Six weeks seems like a lot of time to get something done, but it flies past. If you want any time to practice you need to put in a lot of time up front and trust me you want to practice. Some of your best ideas will come from your time actually working on the task. The faster your team can get there the more time you will have to implement changes.
The final lesson I learned was: Your community is waiting to support you. Once our first competition happened and parents heard about the team the support was obvious. Our community provided financial, moral, and technical support throughout the process. We had parents donate safety equipment, time, money, and expertise throughout the season. Some parents show up to competitions who didn’t even have students in the program. They just wanted to show our students that what they were doing was amazing. That same community is looking forward to next year and I can guarantee they will be there to support us again.
I am extremely proud of our students for the work they put in. I am proud to live and work in a community that cares so much out our students and their success. I asked our team members to send me lesson they learned throughout the season and here are some of their thoughts: