“Mr. D, What are you wearing?”
This was the first thing I have heard the last two days when students have walked into class. No, the student’s were not talking about pants or jeans, but my shoes. Who would have thought that wearing something other than work boots would gain so much attention?
If students pay that make such a big deal about my footwear, I wonder what they think about my curriculum. This has made me wonder if I changed some of my curriculum what students would say. When I came to my current school 3 years ago, I brought with me the CASE curriculum, this added rigor and relevance to my plant science course, but not others. Over the years, I have struggled raising the rigor in my other courses for various reasons from student pushback to lack of adequate planning on my side. With the new semester, I began teaching 2 new classes of Ag I. I have made a conscience effort to raise the standards for these students. With the exception of a few, the students are completing the assignments to higher standards and at a quicker pace than my previous classes.
I would like to think it’s the new mindset I have taken with my Ag I courses in that all activities, projects, and problems they have completed so far have been relevant and student driven. This has increased their involvement and allowed for more hands on learning. Maybe it’s a fluke and will go downhill after another week or two, but we, as Ag teachers, have it easy when relating our material to real life situations and ensuring that students taste success. Every day when we enter the classroom, we set our expectations for students, by setting them high; they will work to reach our expectations and when the material they are learning about is relevant, they will be more engaged. Some may not make it, but I am willing to bet they learned more than if the expectations were set to low.
So the next time you are planning activities for your class change your shoes, see if your students notice. By developing activities that are more rigorous, your boots may get a little dirty, but the students will rise to the occasion.