The first year I brought students to "StuCo", we were in "observation" mode. We did not know what to expect. I didn't know how to instruct them either because I had no prior experience with the event.
It is one of my favorite events of the year. I love seeing the passion and the focus on persuasive speaking. Here are a few things I believe a first year coach should know:
1) Students must research the bills assigned to their house and the senate; keep the research next to the bill; write both pro & con speeches for each bill - all of them if possible, but definitely the ones in their committee and house. At a minimum they should have a pro/con T-chart for each bill.
2) READ the RULES in the STUDENT CONGRESS PACKET. Make certain the students READ the RULES.
3) Teaching them parliamentary procedures increases their confidence and reduces their fear.
4) Dress like you belong in the setting. We have found amazing $5 three-piece suits at GoodWill stores. Community members are also eager to help students who need assistance too.
5) Have 2 names on each bill and list the primary author first because that author will be the one who delivers the authorship speech.
6) Create BLOCK LETTERING name plates on card stock. I like using powerpoint; it's easy to turn a name upside down if you use text art. Make & bring extra ones too. I have 3 name plates for each delegate. I give them one, and I don't tell them I have the extra for when they have lost the first one.
7) There is a spirit of cooperation that is essential. This element is what distinguishes this debate from other competitive styles of debate. Everyone is working on a common goal - to improve the quality of life for our citizens.
8) Because the billis that the students write may end up on the Governor's desk, we take it very seriously and with great pride. It is an honor and a great responsiblity to represent our schools and communities.
I really wanted to keep it to 5 items, but... once I'm on a roll, it is hard to stop. I hand it off to you now to add your words of wisdom / hints for success to this.