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Wes Crawford

Keep Calm and Teach On

Posted by Wes Crawford Nov 24, 2013

As it is now the week of Thanksgiving, cue the conversations to persist in the teacher break room:  "It's so busy this time of year...The kids are all wired up...This month is so crazy..."


Of course, ag teachers say the same thing about a) October/National Convention time, b) Proficiency season, c) fair season, d) state convention season, e) CDE season, f) beginning of school, g) end of school, h) summer, i) get the picture.  In fact, it is too easy to get wrapped up with all the extra things going on and demands upon us that it's not hard to feel overwhelmed, no matter how long you've been teaching.


This year has been a particularly interesting one for everyone at our high school.  August in-service was the start for a whole host of changes and new challenges for us:

- a new grading system that didn't work as advertised,

- a new state-mandated evaluation and goals system that was less than clear,

- a new standards-based report card that caused some neighboring schools to jump over the cliff of proficiency-based grading (only to try to climb back up within two weeks),

- new graduation requirements that over 50% of the seniors in Oregon weren't meeting at the beginning of the school year,

- ramping up to take on the Smarter Balanced assessment with the Common Core,

- all on top of the usual hustle and bustle of paper-work, meetings, challenges, and tasks.


Depending on who you talk to, the last twelves weeks have either been a six-month sentence or a six-minute blur.  Either way, everyone agrees:  it's a lot on the plate and some are feeling the stress.  Every educator knows the job goes a long ways beyond the classroom hours, ag teacher or otherwise.  It's time like these that I go to my default:


I teach kids.


It's too easy to get distracted by all these other items that we forget what job number one is:  educate youth.  So when push comes to shove, my classroom comes first.  I focus on having great curriculum prepared for great kids.  I HATE grading but value the feedback it gives students on how they are doing, so I get it done.  I make sure that when the bell rings that I am ready, and now that they are experienced they know they should be ready too.  Here we go.


So folks, Keep Calm and Teach On.  That's what we are here to do.  There are a lot of other important things we need to do, but don't lose sight of priorities, regardless of what happens.


When your 50 minute lesson plan is complete at 20 minutes, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When the Department of Eduction releases its newest/next-generation/common-competency-objectives-proficiencies/latest reform, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you have your kids running around with notched pig ears taped to their head identifying numbering and your assistant principal walks in, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When the LCD projector bulb burns out and the overhead stops working, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you are two weeks behind of turning in purchase orders, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When the power is out and you teach welding this period, grab the chalk, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you're in charge of three local and regional committees who are all meeting next week, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you've scheduled a trip and the bus is 30 minutes late in showing up, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you get the email saying your re-licensure paperwork is due next week, Keep Calm and get it done so you can Teach On.

When you are on a field trip in the middle of nowhere studying rangeland and a student falls fourteen feet into a hole at a BLM recreation site, Keep Calm and call the closest ag teacher who lives ten miles away.  Then Teach On.


Keep Calm folks.  We're ag teachers.  Do what we do best.




READER RESPONSE:  what curve balls do you deal with and just have to Keep Calm and Teach On?  Add them in the comments!

Those Kids

Posted by Tiffany Morey Nov 18, 2013

We all have those students known as "those kids". Most of the time we think of "those kids" as the ones that push our buttons and make us want to pull our hair out. But, we also have "those kids" that truly love ag and FFA and make it worth coming to work on the days when the other "those kids" drive us crazy. Sometimes, "those kids" that we really enjoy having students aren't the ones we have time to focus on, but today, I'd like to recognize them. For "those kids" who I am lucky enough to call my students, this one is for you.


Our FFA officers are often the best of the best of "those kids". The go above and beyond what is expected of them as an FFA member, and dedicate themselves to improving not only themselves as leaders and team players, but also their FFA chapters. "Those kids" take the extra initiative to make sure that their FFA chapter is the best it can be, and dedicate countless extra hours to preparing for meetings and fundraisers, writing the POA, and assisting their fellow members. They put the good of the chapter before themselves, and often the ones keeping their advisors sane when things get busy! We can't have successful FFA chapters without them, and getting the chance to work with "those kids" to see them develop and grow is one of the best parts of being an FFA advisor!


Some of "those kids" who are my chapter officers.


FFA members are also some of "those kids". They challenge themselves by participating in FFA activities and competing in CDEs. By working together with their teammates, they are able to accomplish things that improve their chapter and garner them recognition for their hard work. While they might not all aspire to be chapter officers, "those kids" want to better themselves by becoming FFA members and aren't afraid to acknowledge their love of ag. We need them to keep the FFA tradition alive, and they make being an advisor such a rewarding experience.


Some of "those kids" who are great middle and high school FFA members posing with Nancy Trivette.


"Those kids" who are good students in our ag classes are also important. They might not be FFA members, but they also have a passion for ag and are the future of the many different ag industries. They take pride in their work, and are the force behind the many moments of educational magic that happen in our ag ed classes. "Those kids" are leaders in the classroom, and understand the value and importance of hard work when it comes to academics. They will fill future agricultural career positions and without them, "those kids" who want to take ag classes and get something out of it, we ag teachers would not have jobs.


Last but not least, there are "those kids" who want to become ag teachers. They are the rarest, and perhaps the most special and most important variety of "those kids". Without them, the future of ag education would be bleak. We need "those kids" to fill ag teaching positions and to continue the rich tradition of teaching ag. "Those kids" are the ones who are the greatest pleasure to teach and the greatest treasure to discover.

Image preview

One of my students who is one of  "those kids" who wants to become a future ag teacher. (Image created by and borrowed from Robin McLean.)


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I ask all of you to take a moment and recognize "those kids" that you are thankful to have the opportunity to educate. They make our job as ag teachers worth it and make us feel like our hard work is appreciated. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and look for S'Morey soon!



National FFA Convention makes my job so easy... the laser show, the theme song, the massive expo, the wallet-draining mall. It never fails that my students always come away inspired and awestruck. The last time members from my new chapter attended a convention, the George Bush (the first one) was President and I was getting ready to go to Kindergarten. The previous teacher never made this trip with his students. Suffice to say, they were unaware of what awaited them in Louisville last week (a mere 2.5 hour drive from our high school.)

When they found out that my birthday was the Saturday of convention, they showered me with many gifts, but I want to share the best one with you today as my way of saying Happy Friday.

After insisting that I meet with them before we went to dinner one night, they gave me what they appropriately called an FFA rose, or a blue and yellow wax rose from the FFA mall. (Y'all know what I'm talking about. That booth may be as old as the FFA itself). The "card" they gave me was a picture from the amazing Teach Ag Booth. (Ready, Ellen Thompson?) As I pulled the picture from the bag, Maddie, a sophomore, said,



"Happy Birthday, I'm going to be an agriculture teacher!"

What YOU get for YOUR birthday?

Today Maddie saw me wearing my Teach Ag jacket (because it is unseasonably COLD here in the Volunteer State) and asked me how I got it. When I explained that I get to blog about why my job is the , she loved that there was a national platform for young people who are considering joining our profession. So if you will, lend Maddie your ears and hear why she wants to join the ranks of crazy agriculture teachers everywhere.



"I was inspired to teach ag after learning about how much agriculture really effects our lives each and every day. Not everyone understands just how important our industry is. I plan to share that with as many people as I come in contact with. Teenagers and young adults need to be aware of what we do and that agriculture is about so much more than farming.



I want to inspire others to want to wear our blue corduroy jacket because it'll never go out of style. I plan to show FFA members that our jackets represent our past and all that we have the potential to become. We are the future of agriculture. Whether you want to be a farmer, a marine biologist, a veterinarian, or an agriculture teacher, our industry depends on you. If you're wondering if this career is right for you, here's what I know: if you love the blue and gold as much as I do, you'll want to be a part of it forever.  By choosing a career as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, you will!"    

-Maddie, sophomore at McGavock High School

If you were like me last and week and was actually in the classroom and not waiting for a table in a Joe's Crabshack next to the Ohio River, you were probably still aware that something big was going on.


While our chapter has made it to the past three national conventions, we didn't attend the re-inaugural Kentucky convention.  As it's a 36 hour drive over 2,381 miles of highway (37 hours in the traffic right now as I Google Maps it), we traditionally don't make the trip unless we have a team competing.  And while some traditions are due for a rewrite, we just haven't gotten over that hump yet.


However, thanks to the times we are well aware that the National Convention is indeed going on strong.  In fact, if you're paying attention, there are all sorts of indicators that 50,000 of your closest friends left you behind and headed to Churchill Downs, amongst other things.


So how can you tell?  Here are some handy signs:


1 - The emails across the US Ag Ed Listserv about concert tickets/opening session tickets/hypnotist tickets/rodeo tickets abruptly stop. I think that if you tallied up the Subject Lines the national listserv is used for (which if you aren't on it, you should be) it would be 1) "Monday Morning Monitor", 2) "Job Postings in (state) -or- at National FFA", and 3) "Need 3 tickets to Opening Session B!"


2 - No other ag teacher responds to your emails.  Come on people, I'm just trying to get the plant order together...


3 - You get phone calls from community members who are watching it on RFD-TV.  "Just wanted to know if you were there, we couldn't find you in the crowd..."


4 - Your Facebook/Twitter feed blows up during the CDE Awards banquets Thursday/Friday. This is what happens when all your friends are ag teachers.


5 - You post your blog on CoP a week after you write it in the hopes someone will actually see it.  I had it last week, but figured to wait until people were home.  Wishful thinking perhaps.


Welcome home all.  Hope to see you there next year.


READER RESPONSE:  What are the signs of Convention in your neck of the woods?

Matt Eddy

Day(s) in the life - NFFA

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 4, 2013

Sometimes National FFA Convention it seems like the entire week rolls into one big long day -- and when I arrive back at school on Monday it's like I woke up from a dream.  All I have left to remind me were these 'Hangover'-esk picture montages to piece together what exactly happened.


Enjoy -- ME


Culver's - Cause they support us.We toured Caterpillar's Peoria plant - the kids really enjoyed this tour.
I would have enjoyed the tour more if they left the keys in the ignition.A big D11 blade will always give you some perspective.
Darley Farms Intl. - The late great Affirmed -- buried in whole - a huge honor for a horse.Some people have pictures of their kids & family - this place has pictures of it's horses.
One of the best 'hard hat' tours in the Ag industry.Bottling $250 / bottle Bourbon.
In Honor of Halloween -- no camera tricks -- both pictures taken unaltered from opposite sides of the mural.Creepy ain't it! (the hallway follows you  - Left first, going right second)
A very great group to travel with -- Ben Booth made us some great T-shirtsReady for the concert.
Some kids....Susannah Miller (my sister) tagging one of her students to Teach Ag.
Concert with Dierks BentleyWas fortunate to speak about the CASE curriculum on RFD TV with Orion Samulson, Beau, and Tiffany
Ellen Thompson rocking the "Teach Ag" workshops - it was a privilege to help along with many others - Jaysa Fillmore Parker Bane Doug Dodd to name just a couple.Ben Booth Me, Marla Shifflet (no CoP) Brandi Boyd Taylorann (Smith) Clark Tonia Prombo Susannah Miller Rosa Sondag -- a great group to travel with.  Much fun had and some stories from the road they hope I don't tell.
We'll ... if you can't have a little fun... Let the jokes begin.2013 Iowa FFA American Degree recipients -- I didn't make the security folks very happy with my vantage point for this photo... but I got the shot.
Very proud of our #'s 4 and 5 American Degree's from our chapter EVER!. #1 in 2011 -- Many more to come from these exceptional students - Congratulations to Nic and Brett

Arrived home at 3 am - mowed my lawn Sunday afternoon and

just drove in circles.... coincidence?

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