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It's been a pretty good transition from college student to student teacher and moving from one side of Wisconsin to the other. I looked forward to student teaching with a lot of excitement, but also with anticipation. On Monday I started my official adventure in the classroom as a student teacher/intern. I?m pretty excited for what the semester holds as everything is going well so far.



The class "Greenhouse, Plants and Flowers" that I'm teaching by myself has been a good experience. I even survived my first observation by my supervisor with the university. As pre-service teachers, we are constantly reminded on the importance of reflection to improve your teaching, but it's also nice to get tips on not only what to improve on, but how to improve. Also, it was a nice to hear about what I was doing well. Sure, I passed all my education and ag classes in college, but I knew I wasn't going to be perfect. Well, I know I have 17 weeks to go, but after week 1 I'm feeling pretty good about my career choice. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.



Things I learned my first week in the classroom:



·        Be flexible. Like when the entire district network is down and you're without internet. On Tuesday I redid my entire lesson because I couldn't print the documents I needed. Everything turned out and I was pleased with how the lesson went.



·        Projectors are not my friends.  I'm not sure why, but no matter when I try to use a projector, whether it was in college or now this week student teaching, I can't get them to work to save my life.



·        While projectors are not my friends, I am very thankful for my fellow student teacher friends. It's nice to be able to share the experience, whether it is a phone call in the middle of the week to check-in or working on lesson plans on a Saturday night.



·        With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. -Eleanor Roosevelt. It's nice to know that no matter what happened each day, I can reflect and think about how to do better the next time. Plus, as an ag teacher you never know what interesting things are going to happen.


Race to the Top, State Testing, development and adoption of common core standards has placed a major focus  on the four core courses; Math, Science, English and Social Studies. Career and Technical Education programs seem to be taking a back seat as the times and focus on education changes. As Agriscience Educators, now more than ever before it is extremely important that we showcase what we have been and continue to do in our classrooms and labs on a daily basis. With the beginning of the 3rd Marking Period recently starting, I began new units in every class this week. As I reflect on those units; I am teaching Math, Science, English and Social Studies. The cross-curricular connections are always there and I think sometimes we tend to forget how much knowledge we provide through Agriscience. I think I also heard President Obama mention the importance of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) education in his State of the Union address. Agriscience is the answer.


Here's what my teaching units looked like this week:

1st Period - Floriculture I - Plant Identification and History of Floral Design

2nd Period - Horticulture I - Environmental Effects on Plant Growth - Light, Water, Temperature, pH, Soil Textural Triangle and Transplant Geraniums for Spring Plant Sale

3rd Period - Floriculture II - Plant Identification, Interior Plant Scaping, Greenhouse Maintenance

4th Period - Lunch and Planning- Helping students complete Proficiency, State and American Degree Applications (Due next week!) Plus working on information for an FFA Week Display

5th Period - Floriculture Independent Study- Working on Floriculture CDE Plant Identification, Problems and Practicums, and Preparing Marketing Plan for the Valentine's Day Sale

6th Period - Horticulture II -Plant Identification, Calculating Fertilizer Requirements and Planning a seed germination schedule for the Spring Plant Sale


Hmmmm......... think what we teach is important to help students make connections to the real world? Plus.. we had a snow day this week and were only in school four days!.....And it is Friday night and I just finished reviewing an American Degree Application.


My point... Frequently we are asked to "raise the rigor and relevance" in our classrooms. The average person has no idea what an Agriscience classroom looks like. They have no idea what the daily life of an ag teacher is like. We must tell them and show them.  We know that Agriscience is the application of many core standards and through the FFA we offer students additional life and leadership skills that will help them succeed in the demanding 21st century workplace. We need to assure that we have the support of our administrations. political leaders, community members and business professionals. They need to know what we do and what we provide for our students. The impact we make on students is amazing.


You know the rigorous cross-curricular connections.  You know the value and relevance of your Agriscience program. You know the passion and dedication that you give everyday to make it successful.


FFA Week is quickly approaching in February! It is time for show and tell! What are you doing to showcase your program?

Matt Eddy

Pork and Beans

Posted by Matt Eddy Jan 26, 2011

Which is really what Iowa is all about....


Boy, time flies while your having fun.  I can't hardly believe we are almost to February and I haven't even started working on January yet.... ha ha.


Rocking out to some Twisted Sister this AM, so if this train goes off the rails, you now know why....


Ms. Blakely started her student teaching picking up my An Sci class (CASE) and is having a great time with them.  The students have always been very accomidating and I am always proud of their flexibility in the whole student teaching process.  We have great facilities and supportive administration.  The only downside is she has to listen to me for 14 weeks...


Been busy with CASE courses -- Teaching AFNR and ASA this year.  Pretty nifty stuff and I wish I could get everything set the way I want it.  I guess patience is a virtue... just not one I come by easily.  And for a farm kid who waits 6 months to see success in most instances - that's probably saying something.  Education sure is a slow boat when it comes to change....

AFNR 3.2 02.JPGAFNR 3.2 14.JPG


Delivered a USDA SPECA grant to develop CASE programming in Iowa and across the nation on Friday.  Melanie Bloom (Ag Ed in Bloom) and I worked on that.  Our partnership involved beauty and brains... and as you probably surmised already; she has them both....  It was a distinct honor to work with her, and now we sit and wait to see what will happen.  If it comes thru, we will be able to host 4 CASE institutes, with equipment money for all attendees over the course of a couple years.  Very exciting when we start thinking about how that would impact Ag Education across the grant scope.  Eh, I'm counting chickens again...


So if I were burning the candle hot before, I kicked the blowtorch on the last 6 weeks or so.... Which reminds me -- Is this really February already??  CDE Contests to prep, Application for Iowa degree's, National Chapter, proficiencies, officer books, DO interviews due on February 1st, - we attended Legislative Symposium yesterday and spent some time with our elected officials.  Taking kids to the Iowa Pork Expo tomorrow for Livestock Eval contest and career show.  Preg Check cows next week.  Should be a good time - I would be satisfied with 50%, as I have seen one or two bulling since we AI'd them.


FFA members did an excellent recruitment visit to the Middle School Friday while i was infirmed last week.  I hear they had a great turn out.  I guess Friday I may be able to see some numbers and see if the largest program in the state (us) can get a second teacher... I'm hoping for my sanity, YES.


I doubt your schedule (if you take some time to read this) isn't any different than mine.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  Remember to take some time for you and yours - and sharpen the saw every once in a while.


Remember kids(at least in Iowa), make it thru February and all runs are downhill from here.  Follow the fun on Twitter @AgEd4ME

     Agriscience education plays an important role in helping students succeed in all areas. The month of December was very busy. Now that I think about it... what month as an Ag teacher isn't busy? Anyway... as I mentioned before the production of fresh evergreen wreaths, grave blankets (cemetery mounds), fresh evergreen centerpieces and the production, growth, maintenance and sale of a poinsettia crop can be a very profitable fundraiser. A profitable fundraiser with many  opportunities for learning by doing. After all, profit does not come without a great deal of knowledge, planning, organization and hard work.

     Students gain valuable knowledge, experience and perspective on what it is like to operate a business during a busy holiday season in the floriculture industry. They learn work ethic, teamwork skills, plant identification, marketing skills and the science of greenhouse production, management and maintenance. Students gain knowledge and create ideas that expand areas of their SAE projects. They work hands-on to develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their work that helps to boost their confidence and build2010-2011 Pics 104.jpg a community of students that are learning by doing and having some fun along the way!

     Yes, it is a great deal of work to grow a saleable poinsettia crop. Yes, evergreen branches produce sap that gets everywhere!  Yes, making fresh evergreen wreaths by hand is much more time consuming and difficult than buying them pre-made. Yes, making over 100 grave blankets in 10 days can become hectic and monotonous. However, when my students enter my classroom with a smile on their face ready to work and prepared to meet the production goals of the day, I know it is all worth every extra hour of planning and organization. When I hear, "Miss D, I love this class, can I stay here next period too?", I know I am providing a safe learning environment where kids enjoy learning!


The countdown to the start of my student teaching experience is T-minus 1 week. I'm experiencing all the normal feelings and thoughts: anticipation, nervousness, excitement, wondering if I'm crazy, stress, happiness, etc. I'm getting settled into my new apartment and trying to figure out what end is up as I prepare for teaching. I'll be teaching a horticulture class all semester and get to work with vet science and food science classes and a middle school exploratory class.


It's been fun going through my old notes and items that I've saved over the years in preparation for actually being in the classroom. It's been a great 4.5 years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls preparing for being an ag teacher. I've had the time of my life, learned a lot and have some amazing friends that will also be student teaching this spring. It's fun to think about how much we've grown over the years and the fact that we made it this far. Now I'm just hoping that I'll remember everything I learned in college and that everything goes well. Wish me luck!

New Challenges

Posted by Jan Marie Traynor Jan 15, 2011

This past week is our "get ready" week - since our classes start back for Spring semester the day after Martin Luther King Day. It occurred to me that the whole get ready process has changed considerably since I started teaching. At one time it was largely printing and handouts that you prepared, organizing the classroom, a new bulletin board design, double checking materials and so on. A lot of that is still part of the process but for several years now we have added online materials, course supplements, and in some cases entire online lessons and courses to the list of things we have to get ready. On our campus we were one of 3 areas to be early adopters of technology and especially online teaching over 10 years ago. One advantage to being a early adopter is that you can't really do anything wrong - or at least no one knows you are wrong. And the only way to go is up - so I encourage all new teachers to not fear being first - first to test new technology, first to push the administration just a bit more, first to push your students just a bit more. Back to technology - I am not a fan of technology just for the sake of having a new toy (although new toys are fun) - but I do feel that it is critical as an educator to search out and evaluate all technology related to my courses and to the careers my students will likely enter. I am not talking about just instructional technology or instructional delivery mechanisms but more about the technology that will be used on the job. There was a time when every (or almost every) teacher of agriculture came from a farm or some kind of agriculture background. With fewer farms we are seeing less of that and that lack of field experience can make it hard for a new teacher to know what tools they should be looking at. This is where your advisory committee can be a great help.


I need to relate the situation that I faced when I first started teaching. I was hired fresh out of college to teach at a county vocational school in a horticulture program that was not having much success. I did not come from a farming or horticulture background - ok we did have a vegetable garden but that was it. Nor was I involved with FFA in high school - my high school couldn't spell FFA - so to say I was "wet behind the ears" would not be an exaggeration. Then, 1 week before starting school, someone shared with me the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association Newsletter which included a "Letter to the Editor" about me - and it wasn't good. The author had never met me but he knew that the vocational school had hired a new teacher who had zero field experience and he was convinced that it spelled doom for the program.  The letter was pretty true - especially about my lack of experience. Image my surprise when I received my advisory committee list and the first name on the list was the author of that letter. Talk about fear! This guy had been trained in the German apprenticeship system and, at the first meeting, insisted that I needed to spend two years teaching students to dig holes because they needed to learn to dig the perfect hole. Can you imagine how many students I would have if that was all I tried to teach them? Ultimately Franz became my biggest supporter - and this year I am serving as President of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association - because during that same meeting Franz urged me to get involved with the professionals and their association -great advice! It is important to be active in NAAE and in your state teachers association but also be sure to make time for the association most aligned with your program - you won't regret it and your students will benefit.

In the north snow may be normal, but down here in south carolina we rarely get the white stuff.

Needless to say we got a day off from the semester and a late start on the second day. When class

resumed we had a lot of catching up to do.  At Clemson University all ag ed second semester seniors who

plan on teaching have to go through a three week class that refreshes our memory on some of the vital ag

mechanics principles that we learned in our first and second year.  This is a great opportunity that Clemson offers

us to get in the teaching mode.  My duties over the next three weeks will include: hands on projects, peer teaching,

and lesson planning. This class give us as students a great opportunity to get a head start on the students that

we will soon be teaching.  While I prepare to start my student teaching I am overwhelmed with excitement about the

mysteries that lie ahead on my teaching journey.  While I don't know what lies ahead I do know that the education that

I have gotten from Clemson Universities agricultural education department has prepared me to the tasks that are ahead of

me. I hope that everyone else has a great start to the semester and hopefully we will all have some exciting stories to share

once we start teaching.

Returning to high school as a teacher after 4-7 years of college (depending on how many degrees/victories laps you took in order to get it all done) is kind of like re-enrolling as a freshmen all over again.  Depending on the teachers in your school/FFA advisors in your area, they may regard you that way as well.  Overwhelmed is the word of the day, seven is the number of preps you have and zero is how many lesson plans you've ever put together for that particular unit you're teaching tomorrow.


Some of you just laughed out loud out of recognition - you've been there - or are weeping from realization - you are there.  But that's okay - because I can see the light.  And I am here to share; this post is for you, probationary teacher.


I recently realized this winter that I am reaching the light at the end of this particular tunnel.  No, not the retirement tunnel.  Ha!  I'll retire in 35-57 years from today, depending on public employee retirement systems.  It came to me as I sat at home a Tuesday evening with a laptop on my lap and a clear plan for tomorrow's classes.  I've reach my second high school "senior year" - and for you new teachers it is awaiting you, too.  Brainstorming five lessons until 10pm the night before Monday is not the Sunday ritual it may have been a couple years ago.  After three years I'm closing in on having fairly well put together assignments, activities, and assessements.  Prep is not spent Googling 'asexual reproduction' in the hopes that my next class will have something to do.  I actually have some tests already written.  ALREADY!  Before the day before the test!


Maybe you're much more capable than I.  You could be the person who makes copies of every assignment for the semester during the week of inservice in August.  Bully for all that.  I'm lucky if I can get the syllabus put out before the Friday before school.  So you can understand my joy in realizing that as my senior year continues my newfound preparedness that had cautiously emerged last year has fully bloomed into a much smaller demand on my time.


Of course, this does not mean that lesson planning is a thing of the past.  I am a firm believer in never-ending improvement as well as a routine re-inventor of the wheel, and try to keep bumping up the quality of past years' work.  Somtimes that means deleting the PowerPoint found in that Google search and putting together some real good curriculum.  This year has involved expanding a semester class from two years ago in to a year of coursework and curriculum, so don't be fooled - I still have planning and prepping to be done.  I'm a long ways from being done figuring this gig out, that is for sure.  I just seem to be able to get it done before dark some days now.


So for those of you in your second high school freshmen, sophomore, or junior years, know that every day gets easier and every year greater.  Look forward to having some tools in the toolbox that are already laid out and ready to go - kid tested and self-approved.  Yes, your days are still going to be long (did you read my first post?) but time will be available for many new ideas and efforts.  In short, no matter what it feels like now it will get better - and you will be happy with this choice of profession.  It's worth it.


Challenge for 'experienced' teachers - post a comment and affirm that we all get better at our job the longer we do it!

Matt Eddy

Hoist the main sail

Posted by Matt Eddy Jan 3, 2011

Whether restful or not, I hope this finds everyone back in the groove and making things happen in the new year.  As we come about (jibe ho!) for the new year I can't help but reflect a little on the goods and the not-so-goods - count some blessings and see what I have in store for the new year.  We seldom find time to reflect as ag teachers -- we are always moving forward to the 'new thing'; it's nice to be able to think in the quite of a school poised on the new semester ... tomorrow.



  • Peter Frampton on my playlist (Sorry, just what popped up this moment - but I do like me some Frampton)

  • The Animal Learning Center cows are going along well -- looking forward to preg-check next month.  The proof will definitely be in the pudding.

  • CASE - it's nice change to the pace of life around here and the better execution of it will only be enhanced as we go along.

  • Kids (er... students) - they make this thing enjoyable and unbearable in sequential moments and not in that order necessarily.

    • Not sure if I have arrived or not, but my Advanced Animal Science students created a facebook page in their exuberance over getting back to school and taking the class.  Some healthy one-ups-manship is going on with the students from last year's class that are still around.   Somedays, this job ain't so bad....



  • I vow to improve my diligence in grading.  I don't know if I can ever conquer that mountain, but I resolve to work harder at it on a weekly basis.

  • Program improvement - I resolve to keep fighting the good fight and struggling to make improvements to my program in the areas that I have little to no control over.  Creating buy-in around me is a continual process that I need to continue to continue.  Dontcha know.


I look forward to having a student teaching for the third year in a row.  I think Samantha Blakley will work out well and I resolve to clean my desk while she is here.  I'll just start with my desk anyway.  See how that goes.  Goodness knows the rest of the place could use a month of Sundays to get cleaned up.


I spent this workday doing some productive things.  Two students came by to work on American Degree's, I got most of the grades put in well ahead of the 3 pm deadline.  All the shrimp seemed to survive the break and my trip to Texas.  Good students doing shrimp chores are worth their weight in gold.


All in all - I look forward to 2011 and what it will have in store.


My you keep your people in the boat and the water out of your boat; ME


If the wind is against you then start sailing against it because the wind may never change in your favor.


PS - Any of you winners out there diagnose my poinsettia problem via picture?? LOL  Post your guesses in reply to the blog.


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