An interesting conversation happened in the staff room today. First of all, if you are an ag teacher at a typical high school, one of two things is true: you at least somewhat enjoy your colleagues and eat there every day (and therefore stay in the loop), or your staff room is a dark pit of negativity, whining, pessimism, four-more-synonyms-for-bad, and in general a place you avoid like eight more pages of paperwork.
I fall into category one at the moment.
At any rate, we sat enjoying the 30-minute duty-free respite when the conversation moved to our Spanish teacher. He is planning to take a year off next year to teach English in Chile or Ecuador. He turned to me and said “We should do a cross-curricular project, and you should come too. You can teach about agriculture, and I’ll translate.”
The conversation quickly caught fire. He continued, “Sue (biology teacher) can come too, and explain how the deforestation of the rainforest for agriculture/development is ruining the environment.”
Momentum built. The biology teacher chipped in, “Ron (office systems instructor) can teach them about the technology to do it.” The chemistry teacher followed, "And we can test the chemicals and pH too."
Not to be left out, the English teacher jumped in last: “And I can have them write about it!”
The conversation wandered from there, but I found the whole chain of events intersting and even humorous. Not because of the idea of all of us traveling through South America smacked of a National Lampoon’s vacation movie, but because this fanciful ‘cross-curricular’ project involving six teachers of different subject matter is already happening. In most ag rooms.
Agriculture science & technology students are learning many aspects and practices of agriculture, but also are discussing the environmental impacts, investigating the results using some of the most advanced technology available, and communicating it to others through presentations, posters, speeches, and the written word. It would seem that, from our point of view, this innovative ‘cross-curricular’ endeavor is nothing more than our second period.
This makes me ask the question – if we are doing such across-the-spectrum learning, am I doing a good job of engaging my fellow teachers in doing so, as they are offer a great deal of experience and expertise when it comes to these areas? Not only would this potentially benefit my students, but it would also help other faculty understand what it is we are doing exactly in those ‘ag classes’. This is something we could each do to help develop our students as well as market and enrich our programs.
And maybe I’ll stop being described as a teacher of ‘playing with lambs and cows and stuff.’ By why ruin that kind of reputation.
READER RESPONSE: have you ever had a student say "You made (math, science, English, stoichiometry) seem so much easier!"? Sometimes it just takes a different approach - share some examples of reinforcing or tieing in other subjects in the comments!