The Chicago Debate Commission offered two 18-hour coach training courses as part of the 2011 Chicago Debate Summer Institute: Introduction to Debate Coaching and Varsity Coaching.

More than 40 coaches, almost all of them teachers, took the two courses. Both were led by Les Lynn, who has 15 years of experience working with and training teachers in debate education and coaching. “One of the highlights of the year is the opportunity each summer we have to spend several uninterrupted days working with a large group of CDL coaches, both new and moderately experienced, to develop their readiness to have a sustained, positive impact on their students through the coming school year.”

The Varsity Coaching course drew on the broad and very substantial talents of the CDSI instructional staff (see the faculty roster below): 11 segments of the course were led by 10 CDSI instructors, each one exploring an aspect of more advanced competitive debate on which they have special expertise or experience. According to recent graduate from the Northwestern University Debate Society and Glenbrook North assistant debate coach Mary Gregg, “I enjoyed teaching flowing [formal note-taking during a debate] to CDL coaches and help them improve their ability to instruct students how to flow. It is my experience that effective flowing is an important skill that is the technical heart of argumentation.”

The 2011 coach training courses represent the initiation of the 2011/12 Professional Development System in the Chicago Debate League. Coaches in the CDL are required to partake in 20 hours of professional development throughout the season (each course counts for 5 PD hours), unless they are 7+ year veterans. And this season, all coach and student training in the CDL is being aligned with the newly adopted CDL Debater Development Benchmarks, which are a set of learning objectives for CDL debaters grouped by each year of experience. For the first time in the history of the CDL debaters and schools will be assessed on a qualitative basis, for their attainment of qualitative debate metrics (e.g., refutation skill, use of evidence).

According to third-year coach Christopher Harris of the Chicago H.S. for the Agricultural Sciences, “I’m eager to dive into the new system of debater benchmarks. My sense is that they are going to help coaches throughout the city refine their organization of their debate teaching and coaching. And perhaps just as importantly, we will have certainty our debaters are learning what they are supposed to be learning, when they are supposed to be learning it.”