The WUDL has returned from the National Urban Debate Conference in Chicago. Every June, program managers, executive directors, and other staff gather to discuss developments in the urban debate network, share best practices, and learn new ways to better serve the youth and teachers of our community.
This year was my second national conference, and I was able to approach it geared to learn the details and implementation strategies of what other leagues are doing and focus on what we can do to improve our systems instead of running around helter-skelter looking to absorb every bit of knowledge from everyone as a newcomer. The relationships developed at this conference are invaluable, as we look for ways to better work together across the network. I know that if I have questions about middle school debate, I can turn to the folks at the MNUDL, or if I want to discuss recruitment and retention, our friends in LAMDL are the experts. This year, I presented on volunteer recruitment and retention strategies, bringing my political organizing background to the Urban Debate community. This is an area that the WUDL excels in, and we're excited to contribute to the overall knowledge of the network.
The biggest takeaway from this year's conference for me was that we need to think about how we talk about our programs in a broader light. We had 308 students attend a tournament this year, and worked with about 35 teachers from 30-35 schools. These numbers, however, fail to capture the broader value added the WUDL provides to the educational landscape in the DMV. From the students in each class that our coaches teach, the public debates and field trips we've organized, and our work with DCPS to develop curriculum for the 8th grade cornerstone project this year, we have worked with thousands more students. Remembering that our core mission is to improve student outcomes for under-served students, the competitive tournament schedule is only the most visible and easily counted of the services we provide.
Stay tuned for more insights from the NAUDL national conference. We're excited to role out some new ideas and resources from from the conference (and NAUDL) at this year's tournaments and practices.