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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gracious Professionalism - double take

Last night my FLL team won 1st place in Gracious Professionalism, followed by an invite to the state tournament. I was floored by this unexpected conclusion to yesterday's qualifying tournament.

I slept on this. Actually I stayed awake unable to quiet the turmoil in my brain for quite a while, then entered a comatose state. I can't explain how surprised I was by how well my FLL team did at the qualifying tournament.

When I woke up, I understood better. Sleep is good that way.

This team earned their ticket to state the hard way. They were a solid well rounded team. They were up for project presentation award, had a solid rating on their robot design despite a poor run in the tech judging, scored 8th in the robot game, and obviously did well on the teamwork exercise.

That last bit was what surprised me, but it shouldn't have. This team had to learn gracious professionalism, or totally fail. I have 5 adolecent alpha males and one very quiet and thoughtful adolescent male on this team. (By quiet and thoughtful I want you to think mute, then add about 5 words a day.) We have kids on this team who actively don't like each other. There's only one boy on this team that doesn't tower over me, and I think there's some latent (or not so latent) sexism being explored. We had to share our space with a younger sibling team, and mentor them while still making progress on our own work. We had even younger siblings running around (too young to be on an FLL team) who had to be treated with respect and kindness, even when they were in the way- spying on and teasing the bigger kids.

My method of explaining my behavioral expectations centered around the Core Values and Gracious Professionalism. I told them that I expected this exceptional good behavior in and out of practice, in my home, and anywhere they were in public. I corrected poor choices when I saw them, and tried (not always successfully) to model my expectations. I expected them to control their behavior irregardless of their personal feelings. We are all committed to working together towards a common goal, and being angry with the person next to you doesn't change the fact that you must treat him with respect. This corresponds well with the First Principle in UU, and with the Golden Rule. My expectations weren't a surprise to these kids, but that didn't make it any easier to implement.

These kids earned their award. Not because they were best buds and got along so well. They earned it because they weren't, and found a way to get along and work together well anyway.

Well done team. I'm proud of you.

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