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Many of you are familiar with the movie Mary Poppins. In one iconic scene, Mary Poppins shows the children her magic carpet bag and much to their amazement, begins pulling out all kinds of crazy items such as as lamp and a plant that they never thought could possibly fit in there. As ag teachers, we aren't all that different from Mary Poppins at times and we often amaze our students with our resourcefulness and our ability to make things happen. We too, possess our own magic bags that contain the necessary items our students need to succeed, whether they be real bags with actual items or our toolkits of knowledge and information.

 

The real Mary Poppins with her magical carpet bag

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I'd like to share the story of my own Mary Poppins bag. While it may not be magical, it is special because it was given to me on the last day of student teaching by my cooperating teacher with the message "every young ag teacher needs a bag to carry all of the important stuff". Over the years, my bag has gotten A LOT of use from being trucked to school everyday and also to FFA events like CDEs and State Convention. It's straps have become frayed, and its print may not be as bright as it was, but it still continues to carry any and all of the things I need to teach ag each day. On CDE days it does double duty and serves as a survival kit for my members with a sewing kit, extra CDE materials, clipboards, calculators, and a place for them to stow their stuff while they are competing. Many of the items in it are mundane and ordinary: lunchbox, wallet, cell phone, chapstick, hair brush, coat/sweater/umbrella etc., but it does have its share of unique things that can be found in it. Please see below for a few of my favorites.

 

 

My Mary Poppins bag

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The keys to everything ag: classroom, school, supply cabinets, Gator, tractor, golf cart etc.

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When accidents happen, ag teachers are prepared.

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You never know when you will need your PPE (not pictured: the ear plugs that are hiding somewhere in the bag)

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A nostalgic reminder of the place where my ag ed journey began.

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For the student (or teacher) that needs a writing utensil at an FFA event: my bag has you covered.

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Sometimes, you just need a reminder.

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If you have the time, please share what is in your Mary Poppins bag for teaching ag. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Keep being the magical and awesome ag teachers that you are!

 

-TM

Do you ever snap into the realization, maybe randomly while you’re in the middle of doing something, that you’re an adult?

 

It happened most recently to me at National FFA Convention. It was 7:00am, I was looking over the wheel of a 12-passenger van, staring at the road, driving into the city with 9 sleepy FFA members in Official Dress in the my rear-view mirror. And it hit me.

I’m in charge.

I’m the adult.

When did that happen?

Does anyone see me over here adult-ing all over the place?

 

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Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being an adult. I plowed through college classes because I was *THAT* ready to graduate, start teaching, and doing “adult” things.

 

 

But sometimes, I look around my classroom and realize that everything that happens within the four walls is completely up to me. Me, someone who considers one of the greatest joys in life to be changing into lounge pants when I get home. Someone who considers pizza a food group. Someone who actively utilized words like “fam, turn up, and totes.” Someone who knows why the Hotline Blings. Someone who thinks 1990 was still 10 years ago. Someone who can’t believe that she’s too old now to apply for MTV’s Real World. I’m kinda like a cat. I’m independent enough to take care of myself but someone should still probably do it for me.

 

 

Sarcasm aside, teaching high school students is really the best of both worlds. I get the wisdom of being a few years older, and the experiences that keep me young. In some cases, they also help me gain perspective.

 

 

*Story time!* Let me tell you what I was doing on the very first day of 2015.

 

 

Over winter break, someone was breaking into our farm and animal lab. Long story short, they were people who were uneducated about agriculture and thought they were doing the right thing, even though they weren’t.  At the time, some locks and other security measures weren’t up to par and it was too easy for someone to jump the chain-link fence and do whatever they wanted in my classroom.

After I discovered their break-in, I was enraged. I decided that I am the adult in the situation, I will take control. So…in a very un-adult fashion, I went a little crazy. I had a feeling these criminals were coming back and I was determined to catch them.

 

 

I switched my SUV out for my husband’s black truck. I put on all black, charged my cell phone, bought a hot cup of coffee, and drove up to school once it had gotten dark. I parked in a side lot that faced our farm but was far enough away to avoid detection (I’m so covert, I’m essentially already in the Special Forces). I turned the engine off and put my hood up over my head in a feeble attempt at making the truck look empty. This couldn’t be a stupid idea because I’m the adult and adults are the ones who make good decisions.

 

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I had been waiting for about 30 minutes when a member of the regional FFA officer team called. They were in Nashville and asked if I was free to meet up for dinner. As their regional advisor, I had gotten really close to them and wanted to catch up, but I explained I was in the middle of a covert operation. I couldn’t abandon my post. They understood.

 

 

I waited… and waited, stewing in my frustration. The area is pretty urban so cars are constantly passing on the road that was to my right. I watched every time someone turned down the road to the school, only to continue past it to the local park.

 

 

UNTIL, a Suburban slowly pulled into the school lot and past my truck. They accelerated until they were directly in front of our farm gates. My adrenaline was pumping as I watched a young male fling open passenger door, jump out, and begin to climb the fence. At this point it was basically Def Con 1. I was thinking I might need to moonlight as a police officer because hot darn, I just caught myself a criminal.

 

 

My hands were shaking as I turned on the engine. My lights hit the perps and they fled, but I pulled up to block the only exit from the parking lot. What now, thugs? My face was bright red with anger as their car got closer. I was about to come face to face with these jokers. What in the world would they look like? Did I scare them, or were they going to confront me??  What gives someone the right to just come into MY classroom and do whatever they wanted?!

 

 

And then the faces in the front seat came into view… the smiling faces of my regional officers.

 


After hearing about my secret mission, they wanted to give me a laugh (and a heart attack) by coming up to school on their way to dinner. Of course, they weren’t really the ones breaking into the lab. But in that moment, teenagers gave me a reality check and snapped me back into being a rational adult. My frustration melted with the massive amount of laughter that echoed off the brick walls of my school building. The anger was replaced with validation and love of some of the best students I’ve ever known. I ended my mission and warmed up back home.



(Don't they look like trouble? I took this picture after I recovered.)

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Soon after, a security camera was installed and locks were changed. Moreover, our community began to embrace our urban farm and we haven’t had any incidents since.

 

 

Whenever I lose perspective, I think back to my covert mission and those awesome kids that remind me that I do what I love, and love what I do.

 

 

Now ... where’s my adult-ing award?

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