Last Saturday, I coached my second Reader's Rally team in the county competition. Reader's Rally is a great program where throughout the course of the year team members are required to read 20 books off a chosen list. Five of them are picture books and the rest are chapter books. Team members may be fourth or fifth graders. Teams can have up to ten members and five are allowed to represent the Reader's Rally team in competition. Teams rotate throughout their division answering 8 - 15 questions a round and earning 10 points for each correct answer.
It was an exciting day. The competition grows every year and there were over 50 of Gwinnett's elementary schools present. 80 schools overall including middle and high school competitive teams. Do the Math and this is a lot of people, with just team members (10 x 80= 800) and then two adults required for every team ( a coach and a volunteer) and then parents are allowed to come out and serve as spectators in each room. There is a wild crowd.
My team was very nervous , since most of them were fourth graders and had never experienced this before. However, we loosened up and performed better in later rounds. While we didn't win our division, my kids were very impressive in the way they chose to look at the day " At least we got to read all of these really great books". I was also impressed with one of my noncompeting teammates. You see I had had fifteen kids practicing for a chance to be on the team. I had to narrow it down to the allowed maximum of ten. This was done by averaging their attendance, number of books read and knowledge of the books to reach a number score for each team member and taking the top ten. Well I had encouraged those who didn't make the team to come out on the day of competition and support us. And one boy "j" did and it made my heart soar.
As a coach, I have learned more in my second experience with this competition. I have a new perspective for strategy next year. Also, I have grown. This team outscored my team from last year by twenty points. We also had a team shirt and weekly practices which I had not done last year. So I am growing too. Additionally, it made me feel good that we beat the elementary school that our current school principal was an AP at before coming to our school this year as a principal. Hopefully next year we will do even better.