The first secret is to start early! Get your registration ready and submitted early. In fact, we recommend that you plan to get it done by mid December, several days before the winter holiday vacation begins.
Decide who the team members are and choose your Long Term problem by mid October. This gives the team plenty of time to brainstorm about who might represent them as a judge and volunteer. It also gets the coaches on track early enough so that they can attend the first Judge Development session. Because holiday time is such a busy time, waiting until the last minute to find your judge and volunteer puts your team at a terrible disadvantage. Applications without a judge commitment form will not be accepted after January 3. Teams should apply their best problem solving techniques, in the Spirit of Odyssey, to the challenge of recruiting a committed judge and volunteer EARLY.
People are required to make our programs and tournaments excellent. Judges are a critical component of creating high quality tournaments that are fair and positive experiences for the teams that have worked for months on their problems. The number of Judges needed each year actually exceeds the number of teams and coaches. Without sufficient, excellent Judges the competitions cannot be held.
We have not found a more reasonable nor fairer way to recruit Judges than to require each team to supply a Judge that is enthusiastic, available, and committed to making a difference for students. CTOM shares responsibility with teams and coaches for the quality of Judging:
CTOM will do its best to organize and train Judges, recruit experienced Judges, and increase the quality of Judging each year.
Teams and Coaches can do their part by selecting and recruiting an excellent Judge.
Together we determine the level of excellence of our tournaments, and the satisfaction of each and every participant.
The number of Judges needed each year actually exceeds the number of teams and coaches. To see how this works mathematically we need to know how big a Judging team is, and how many Judging teams we need.
Each Problem requires at least one Long-Term Judging Team, one Spontaneous Judging Team, and a Judge for the Scoring room.
The minimum total is 12: 1-Scoring room, 3-Spontaneous - Long-Term: 1-Head Judge, 2-Problem, 2-Style, 1-Timer, 1-Scorer, 1-Staging.
Each Division of each Problem must be judged by the same team, trained in that problem. Occasionally two or three divisions of the same problem can be judged by a single team.
Semi-Finals requires at least two Judging teams for each Problem and Division
To provide quality judging and a quality experience for everyone (participants, parents, coaches, judges), CTOM's goals are to have reasonable tournament hours and a reasonable judging load for each judging team. While experienced International Judging teams can handle 60+ teams in 2.5 days, long hours with compressed schedules would not be workable for our Judges, nor be appreciated by participants and their families.
22 teams in the same Problem and Division: Requires: 36 Judges in 3 Judging Teams (2-Semi-Finals, 1-Finals)
17 teams in same Problem and Division: Requires: 12 Judges
21 teams in same Problem, (9,7,5 teams in Divisions I, II and III respectively): Requires: 24 Judges in 2 Judging teams (one does Div II and III)
5 teams in same Problem, ( 3, 2 teams in Divisions II and III respectively): Requires: 12 Judges in one Judging team
So you can see that we need significantly more Judges than teams. Fortunately, we are normally able to make up the shortfall with experienced unaffiliated Judges.
As any coach or team member can tell you, all of the long-term problems are complex. In order to fairly evaluate teams and their solutions, each judge must have a clear and complete understanding of the intricacies of the problem requirements and issues. In addition, judges must be consistent in their interpretation of the problem and knowledgeable of the Odyssey rules in order to provide a FAIR competition that honors the student’s hard work. CTOM wants to make sure the team members have the best experience possible. Learning how to handle issues of outside assistance constructively, remembering that we are helping children grow and develop to be their best is a major area covered in the judge training.
In order to provide ever increasing quality, CTOM requires that all Judges attend training each year:
While the attributes of a good judge never change, the rules change every year. Experience has shown that we may forget the rules and have no other way to find out about changes in the rules. Excellent Judges participate fully in training each year, listening to understand rule changes, listening for details they may have missed, and share their experiences with novice judges.
Well trained and committed Judges is key to providing a fair, effective, and valuable tournament experience. CTOM and other Odyssey states wrestle with this problem each year. There are no easy answers.
In order to provide for Finals and Semi-Finals we need slightly more than one Judge per team, who is willing to attend training and Judge at one tournament. Along with returning Judges not nominated by teams this would provide us with just enough Judges for full tournaments.
CTOM requires each team to supply a Judge and have that Judge sign a form that they would attend training and one tournament. In a significant percentage of submitted Judge forms, the nominated Judge did not attend training, or they attended training yet failed to go to the tournament. In some cases we found that the Judges did not actually sign the form, and were never contacted by the team before (or after!) being "volunteered" as a Judge -- This is extremely unfair to the Judges who take time to contribute - the effect is that All Odyssey teams are penalized when judging teams are short members.
We chose to impose a $250 penalty in order for teams with no-show Judges at either training OR a tournament to be scored. Without paying the penalty, teams may compete but will not be scored, and nor will they be eligible for ranking. Of the options available we feel that this provides a strong incentive to have enough Judges, while providing the least penalties to team members for the actions of adults.
We would much rather have all the Judges and collect none of the penalties. CTOM reluctantly imposes this fine, we prefer that all judges meet their commitments so that we do not have to collect a single fine. Our goal is to produce a program that places the responsibility for finding judges and volunteers equitably on all of us, honors the hard work of the children, and celebrates it all at a tournament that is well-run, fair, and fun for everyone involved!
Here are some suggestions to avoid a Judge no-show:
Find a responsible reliable person to nominate -- explain to her/him the value of Odyssey of the Mind. Experience has shown that the best judges are friends, neighbors, and teachers of team members that are committed to education in general, and are recruited with enthusiasm for the Odyssey of the Mind Program. Parents and other relatives are not always the best choice because although they are committed, most are disappointed when they find that, as Judges, they will not be able to see their child perform – be sure to tell them this so their agreement to serve is fully understood.
Recruit judges by describing the judging opportunity to “see creativity in action! Judging requires 2 days of your time. CTOM will train you and you will receive a lunch, a cool t-shirt and a CTOM pin -- plus have great FUN!!!”. It is especially important that judges are aware that they must attend the training and tournaments for which they have committed. Their failure to live up to that commitment has a negative effect on the team.
Make sure the Judge actually reads, understands, and personally signs the Judge Registration Form. Make sure the Judge has checked his/her calendar and is available for each of the dates committed to, understands that they must attend the whole day, and cannot arrive even a few minutes late for a tournament , and that the team is counting on them. Missing will cost the team $250 or access to their scores. Call to check with and remind the Judge, the week before and the day before the training and the tournament.
Have the team send the Judge a thank-you card signed by the whole team as soon as he/she signs the commitment form.
Have a back-up Judge available who can go to training and Judge at the same tournament, if the submitted one has a last minute problem on the training date. (Note: this works for training, not the tournament)
Have the Judge ready to go to the 1st training date, if she/he misses that date recruit a reliable Judge for the 2nd date, call CTOM to tell us.
A parent, teacher or adult volunteer can be a coach. Coaches must be committed to organizing and administering to team meetings - typically weekly in preparation for the CT state tournament. In addition to team meetings, parents volunteers can be organized by coaches or asst. coaches, to help with meeting coordination and scheduling conflicts. Experienced coaches are ready to assist and advise, along with CTOM Association director and board members.
Teams have competed in multiple problems in past tournaments. The only caveat is scheduling for long term and spontaneous for multiple problems can be an issue on tournament day. CTOM will accommodate teams solving multiple problems as long as it does not create scheduling issues.
Teams can change, modify or adjust their solution at any time.
All teams fund their travel and lodging/food while competing at World finals. CTOM is a non-profit organization and does not reimburse teams or coaches for travel or lodging expenses.
Teams may design their own t-shirts and pins for wear or trading at any competition.