We all know that ag teachers wear many hats in their classroom, school, and community. We also know that ag teachers are superheroes, because what other types of teachers juggle so many different classes, topics, SAE projects, community commitments, and everything that comes along with an FFA chapter? Ag teachers spend a tremendous amount of time with their students, and in doing so, have the potential to impact them and influence them in many ways. This leads to the students seeing many different sides of ag educators and all of the different roles they play to do their job. The question is, as an ag teacher, who are you as you assume those roles?
Are you a leader or a boss?
Leaders lead by example. They aren't afraid to step in when work needs to be done, or to step up when they need to. They delegate instead of telling people what to do. As ag teachers, we lead our our classrooms and our students on adventures in learning. Sometimes, it may mean explaining or demonstrating the same thing over and over, or pitching in to get a big project done on time. People respect and listen to leaders, and are more likely to work with and for them. In the classroom, teachers who are leaders have the power to impact their students the most. Be a leader, not a boss.
Are you an empowerer or an enabler?
When things get tough or we are on a tight deadline, it is easy to just do things for our students instead of waiting for them to do it themselves. But, if we enable our students, they will never learn the life lessons we actually want to teach them. By empowering our students to take risks, keep going when things get difficult, and assisting them in finding solutions to their problems, we are teaching them valuable life skills that they need to be successful adults. Empowering students is difficult, frustrating, and time consuming but it is far more valuable to students than enabling them and doing everything for them.
Are you a cheerleader or a fair weather fan?
Cheerleaders support and are there for their teams no matter what. Whether their team wins or loses, they never stop cheering them on. Fair weather fans only support their team when they are winning. If ag teachers were like these fans, their programs would quickly lose students and support. Instead, they must strive to keep cheering for their students and advocating for what they believe in. From preserving ag programs to inspiring others to pursue opportunities like CASE, ag teachers must never stop supporting their home team.
Are you a Susie Sunshine or a Debbie Downer?
It's hard to stay positive all the time, but at the same time, it's hard to be around someone who is constantly negative. When things get rough or we get stressed, it's easy to become a Debbie Downer and focus on everything that is going wrong. However, if we stay in this frame of mind, it will become difficult for us to inspire others to pursue a future in agriculture or to convince students to sign up for our classes. Focusing on the positive inspires others to do the same, and creates a healthy classroom and educational environment for our students. They are way more likely to want to work with and learn from Susie Sunshine over Debbie Downer.
Are you a rockstar or a one hit wonder?
One hit wonders live on their one success story, while rockstars build on that story to continue to be successful and innovative. It's easy to keep doing the same thing over and over again each year in our classrooms, but as agriculture changes, so must ag teachers. Ag teachers are constantly having to adapt to changes in the field, new technologies, and new demands for what their students need for a career in the field. From incorporating innovative curriculums like CASE, to adding iPads and 1:1 computers in the classroom, they have to keep finding new ways to keep their programs current and interesting to students. Like rockstars, they never stop looking for new ways to be successful and attract new fans.
So, who are you? How do you see yourself, and more importantly, how do you students see you? We are all already super heroes just for our choice in profession, so let's strive to become positive empowering cheerleader ag teacher rockstars!