Jessie Lumpkins

An Ag Teacher's 2014 Resolutions

Blog Post created by Jessie Lumpkins on Jan 6, 2014

I rarely make resolutions. I tried last year while I was engaged and not even the prospect of being shoved into white dress in front of all of my friends and family and taking hundreds of pictures could persuade me from going to the gym or putting down the Dr. Pepper. But since I love my job, I think this year I can manage to keep some ag teacher resolutions. Enjoy them, hold me accountable to them, make some of your own.

Just don't judge my




Resolution Number 1:

Tone down the perfectionism.

This is my planner...I can only write in my planner using the designated planner pen...

2014-01-06 15.03.24.jpg

Being a perfectionist may very well be an unwritten prerequisite for entering an agriculture classroom. I could have showed a better video clip for that lesson intro... My classroom could have better wall decorations... the FFA bulletin board hasn't been changed in 3 months... My CDE team needs more work... The lab is in rough shape... I could have handled that issue on the officer team better... I need to hear that speech one more time...


I've often heard the quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy", but for me, the culprit here is perfectionism. It's ok to leave the shop in a mess sometimes, or submit a student-written Ag Issues portfolio that isn't going to win any major awards. Going home and worrying about something can't magically change it, so I resolve to sometimes take a deep breath, step away and be content with imperfection. Even imperfection in myself, which transitions well into...

Resolution Number 2:

Suck at something and embrace it.

This is me struggling with chemistry,

another something that I suck at.


The English teacher may call me about a plant issue and I have to admit that I had maybe 2 plant classes during my entire educational career. I know enough to expose my students to it (aka the "knowing a little about a lot" syndrome), but I will finally shout it from the mountaintop: I am not a plant person.  I dreaded teaching Greenhouse Management. I had two houseplants in my dorm in college and they died slow and painful deaths. I just like animals. They're cuddly and/or tasty.  So when the English teacher is disappointed because I had little insight into why that bug won't stop messing with her Azaleas, I will try not to feel shame and direct her to some good websites for help.


In the spirit of full disclosure, I must also admit... I'm bad at SAEs. FFA is my passion but every time I introduce freshman to SAEs I die a little inside because it isn't a perfect presentation (but like I said, I'm working on that, too). When you look at the list of accomplishments I've coached my students to, there is only one SAE-related one in 5 years of teaching. It's hard to talk about that when I'm a perfectionist because I wouldn't want my fellow teachers to think, heaven forbid!, I'm not the quintessential ag teacher. But refreshing things happen when you suck at something and embrace it. In admitting your area of weakness to another teacher, you may be surprised to hear, "Really? I actually love SAEs. I have some stuff to help you. I suck at teaching soils, do you have anything cool for that?" Which leads to my next point...

Resolution Number 3:

Share and share alike.

Don't know if this better illustrates the perfectionism or the sharing - my CDE files where I keep good stuff.


An inherent part of our job is competition. But is there a reason that we can't have some cooperation in there, too? Many of my fellow teachers have been exceedingly kind in sharing things with me, and I happily share anything I have, but...

More than a few times, there have been teachers who mention being awesome at something and in the same breath uttering, "But I can't share that with ya."  Let's just remember that our ultimate purpose to bring success, not necessarily a championship, to students. All students. My students, your students. So if that could happen from me emailing you my top-secret, high-tech, one-of-a-kind study guide for Parliamentary Procedure, then check your inbox.

Resolution Number 4:

Be purposeful about being grateful.

Owl thank you notes are a good way to go.


This one is simple but possibly the most measurable. I work with so many helpful, enthusiastic people that I often hear myself thinking, "Thank goodness for my Principal." But do I ever actually say that TO her? Probably not enough. I like mail and cards, so I often write thank you notes. I love baking, so cookies are good too. Sometimes an email just to say, "I really appreciated the way you stood up for the agriculture department during our meeting today." could mean the world. I typed that in about 5 seconds so... I have no reason not to be purposeful with my gratitude this year.

Resolution Number 5:

Professional Development is my friend.

Apply in December of 2014 for NATAA. You won't regret it!

Group PD.jpg

Last year I submitted my application to the DuPont Agriscience Ambassador Program and completely forgot all about it. I was accepted and as I packed up for my trip last June, I started getting anxious. I could stay home and get things done, what if I don't make friends with anyone this week, will this PD even be worth it? Going through that week in June changed my outlook on teaching forever. It should be the training every agriculture teacher receives before they're in the classroom. I am now a less anxious, happier teacher because of it. So let's resolve to broaden our horizons and remember that PD is a two letter abbreviation, not a four letter word.

Resolution Number 6:
Slow down and enjoy the little things.

Go ahead and pretend like you didn't cry when you watched this movie.

Enjoy the small things!

This is important, even if it's the last one. I talk about this the most with my fellow teachers. How will I have children and still teach? How do I spend enough time with my husband if 50% of my Saturdays are busy with FFA?  How can I enjoy doing something totally unrelated from work when the deadline for State Degree applications is in two weeks and they are still in rough shape?

Back away from the computer slowly and just say no.The emails can wait. The applications will get done. They always get done every year even though we always panic, right?  But children are not young forever. When I finally have one or two, they are only going to have a few years to wear a massively oversized soccer jersey and run clumsily down the field only to make exactly 0 goals. That movie my husband wants to see? It's only in the theater for a few weeks, and it's just not the same when you aren't shoving extremely over-priced popcorn into your mouth in public.

For all the other perfectionist, type A agriculture teachers who suck at something and spend lots of time stressing out over our jobs because we love it so much...

Let's enjoy the little things both in the classroom and at home in 2014.