1 2 3 First Previous 37 Replies Latest reply on Jul 27, 2017 10:06 AM by Emma Bartz

    Know the Way Discussion

    Katie Wood Top CoP

      In order to help with your mission statement, we want to explore the deeper meaning of schools and teachers. What do they mean to you? Why are they important. You can focus on one of these questions, or you can address all of them.


      1. Why do schools exist?

      2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?

      3. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

      4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

        • 1. Re: Know the Way Discussion
          Samantha Srp Neighbor

          I am going to attempt to answer a piece of each one.  I apologize if any of my answers upset anyone.  I am just being truthful about what I think and see.


          1. Why do schools exist?

               The golden dream answer is to help each student grow and prepare for the roles they will one day fill in society.  Hopefully, they all are positive roles, but we know that isn't always the case.  Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the reality with a push for testing scores, classroom averages, #s of discipline slips, money lost from student dropouts, parent complaints of being impossible for a child to earn a grade they earned, making excuses and passing students along without any effort from them, etc.  Whether it is myself or fellow veteran teachers I know at my school and others across the state, it is becoming more of a babysitting facility where it doesn't seem like students are challenged, held accountable or prepared for what it will be like to contribute to the world.

          2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?

               Teachers and leaders are the support system for the parents/guardians.  For many kids, the teachers and leaders will be the person they spend the MOST time and interaction with each day.

          3. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

               I entered the profession because I was a non-traditional Ag student placed in an Ag class that found a place where I excelled.  It wasn't all greasy tractors, mud and dirt or castrating animals as I had previously thought.  I wanted to reach those kids and show them the opportunities for growth and success.  I am finding now that these opportunities are few and far between.  There are kids that know the program and either want to be a part of it or don't and I am learning to respect that and show them how what they learn with me can be applied in those other interests.  Currently I teach Floral Design that counts as an Art credit and Speech that is required by our high school to graduate.  I also have a random section of Ag Business that was added based on a suggestion by an outside party that it was needed for pathways (even though I knew we had proper pathways and an appropriate number of them, but I digress).  This Ag Business class is used as a "dumping ground" for the kids that need elective credit but cannot be trusted in a music, art, welding or culinary class or as an office or library aide.  I use it as "let's get ready for the real world" class focusing on simple business aspects, careers, responsibility, organization, financial honesty, etc.  I have found with ALL of my classes that teaching that is extremely important.  I sometimes have students throughout 3 years that take my class and ask why we are doing something again when they did it in another class.  I tell them because the more times they see it and experience it and practice it, the better they will be prepared to do it on their own.  (OWN being the key word because it drives me bananas when we work on practice job applications and they start asking what to write in a blank)

          4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

               I really don't know.  I used to be about living the job 24/7/365 and stressing and perfecting every detail of what I was doing.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a health issue that resulted from this lifestyle of being a workaholic.  I could go into a long vent about everything, but it is not helpful.  I just know that now my needs come first and work needs come second.

          • 2. Re: Know the Way Discussion
            Sarah Knight Neighbor

            In looking at the four questions I will attempt to answer each briefly.

            1. Why do schools exist?  Schools exist to provide an environment for students to learn and grow into their potential.  I firmly believe that schools are meant to teach the basics but also help students become better people.  School isn't just about academics, its about winning and losing, social structures, learning to adapt to your environment.


            2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?  Teachers are naturally leaders.  They lead the reluctant student to learning, they lead the exceptional student to expand their horizons.  Teachers spend all day leading students, but who leads the teachers.  Teachers are much like their students they need someone to bring out their positives and help them grow to their full potential.  Teachers can be lead by other teachers, administrators, and yes even parents.  Good leadership within the school will lead to an exceptional learning environment for all involved.

            3. Why did I enter the education profession?  I didn't choose to be a teacher, being an educator chose me.  I kind of fell into teaching because that was the job available when I needed a job.  I think it is more what I chose to do with the opportunity given me.  I don't know that I had any hopes and dreams then.  I do now though.  It took several different roles in different areas of education to find my purpose.  My goal with every student who enters my classroom is to find their strength and help them grow and nurture that strength.


            4. What is my fundamental purpose? I struggled in school with a learning disability, dyslexia.  So if you enter my classroom, you don't find the best and brightest, you find the struggling student who needs that extra encouragement.  My purpose is to find the potential in each student and make them shine.  I wear many hats in my school, teacher, FFA adviser, assistant to the Athletic Director, and mom.  I am a mom to my own kids who attend the school where I teach, but more importantly I am a school mom to many of my students.  In fact that is what many of them call me.  Their school mom.  It is a title I wear well.  My students know that i have their best interests at heart, just like their parents I want to see them grow and succeed.

            • 3. Re: Know the Way Discussion
              Robin McLean Top CoP

              1. Why do schools exist?

                Some days I get cynical and think the only reason schools exist anymore are to test and retest, but I’d like to believe that’s not the true reason they exist. I’d like to be the optimist that says schools exist to help prepare students with the basic skills they need to be functioning, contributing and literate (I don’t mean that as just reading, but having an awareness of the world around them as well) citizens of not only their town, country, and world as a whole. These basic skills are not just the academic skills, but life skills too.


              2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?

                We need to teachers and leaders to help channel passions and interests. They serve the role of helping direct students and others to finding information so they can satisfy their curiosity and put what they are finding out to practical use. Teachers and leaders are needed to serve as mentors and sometimes help students find a safe haven in chaotic times.


              3. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

                My father was a high school art teacher and my grandfather an agriculture teacher, so in some regards, teaching is in my blood. Interestingly enough, after my student teaching experience, my exit interview included me saying “I never want to teach. I just want to get married, stay at home and have babies.” Today, I’ve been in agricultural education for 19  years,  am childfree by choice, and feel like I am able to give back to the community of educators I network with. I began teaching in a high school at which point my hopes were simply to be there until my fiance finished vet school and then move to somewhere more rural. Our relationship ended and I found my niche in teaching and advising FFA. I took a 4.5 year hiatus from teaching to serve as state FFA staff but missed the interaction with a multitude of youth and seeing their eyes open as they had “aha” moments when concepts dawned on them and they internalized the learning.

              I reentered teaching in a middle school where I’ve been for the past 9 years. My hopes today include having my middle school students continue to be engaged in FFA as they enter high school because of the foundation set for them in my program. My hopes include helping students develop their voice as advocates for agriculture. One of my big hopes is that down the road, I might someday serve as a college professor in agricultural education helping to mentor and shape the future agricultural educators that we so desperately need.


              4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

                My fundamental purpose is to serve my students and my colleagues to help them broaden their horizons and find the courage to try new things. It is also to help my students become agriculturally literate enough that they can advocate for the industry.

              • 4. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                Robin McLean Top CoP


                I "feel your pain" with the role of testing in schools today. Also, I love the fact that you mention the reality of not all students wanting to be part of the program and trying to help them see where what you are teaching can fit with their interests. I taught 272 middle schoolers this year and I know not all of them want to go into a career in agriculture, but I know that all of them eat and agriculture benefits their life. So, I try to help them understand that "big idea."

                • 5. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                  Robin McLean Top CoP


                  I didn't "fall into teaching" but I did end up in my first teaching job because it meant my requirements of when I needed it to start and where I wanted it to start.

                  • 6. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                    Anna Lukert Neighbor

                    1. Why do schools exist?

                    Perhaps I'm an idealist, but I still believe in the reason public schools were created- which was to empower people with information. I am reminded of this each year as my leadership students complete their World Food Prize Essay in which inevitably education is one of their ideas to help solve the problems of their country varying from government corruption to food scarcity to women being treated unfairly or the spread of preventable diseases. I know that not everyone buys into the system or believes in what it is doing- there are teachers and administrators who are only there for a paycheck just as there are students who are only there because their parents forced them to be or the government did, but my hope is they are still getting something from the experience and at least find something they are passionate about that might help them find a future job or career. In a perfect world our schools would be preparing students for life, but all too often we get caught up in standards and testing and do miss the mark of actually preparing that student for the job or career they are going into, or just giving them the life skills they need to be a successful citizen of the world.

                    2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?

                    Teachers and leaders should be the driving force behind preparing our students for life. They are the ones who are using a reflective process to determine if students are gaining the knowledge and skills that they need to be prepared for life after high school. Just as the book stated, the best way to make the information important to students is to show the student they are important to you. It begins with relationships. Through those relationships we can build the future workforce from the ground up.

                    3. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

                    I entered the education profession because I loved the subject of Agriculture and wanted to challenge students to help solve the problems we face in agriculture and to become informed consumers. I also wanted to help build their leadership skills in FFA and help them find a career they are passionate about through career development events and supervised agricultural experience programs.

                    4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

                    To help students learn. Not just my subject material, but to learn life skills, leadership skills and how to be the problem solvers of our future.

                    • 7. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                      Ashley Mattke Mentor

                      1. Why do schools exist?

                           I think that schools exist because there needs to be a structured learning environment for young learners. Yes there is so many learning opportunities outside a classroom setting, but not always those minds think they are learning. Having a school gives structure to the learning mind and yes the student might think it is unnecessary to learn in the manner they are but they are learning other skills that they don't quite notice.

                      2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?

                           We need teachers and leaders to educate those learning minds. Without leaders everyone would be a follower and there wouldn't be any innovation. The world would be at a standstill because no one would want to step forward and lead a group to improve one thing or another. A teacher is considered a leader. The teacher leads the students into the knowledge that they might be striving for or don't even notice they are learning that knowledge the teacher is directing them to. If there wasn't any teachers/leaders no one would gain knowledge that could be applied else where.

                      3. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

                           I entered the education profession because of my agriculture teacher in high school. When I started my senior year I was dead set on becoming an engineer even though I really enjoyed my agriculture classes. My agriculture teacher kept telling me that entire year that I would end up changing community colleges and major in something agriculture...well she was right! She knew me more then I knew myself. Through my first year of college I really missed having agriculture classes and was having a "shell shock" of living in a city and not being able to see the progress of the harvest until I would drive home on the weekends. So in the end of my first year of college I applied for another community college and chose my major to be agriculture. To this day I don't see how she knew me more then I knew myself but she gets the "luxury" of the "I told you so" statement.


                           Anyways that brings me back to why I became an educator. My high school agriculture brought a light for agriculture that I hadn't seen even though I grew up on a farm. I always didn't want anything to do with anything farm related while growing up, but now I absolutely love the idea of country living. Hopefully someday I will have that back! I want to do the same for the next generation of kids. Agriculture runs strong in our every day lives it's important that everyone knows that and embraces it. Since I just started last fall teaching my ideas haven't changed much. I started an FFA program which is one thing that I would not have ever saw myself doing. I always envisioned coming into an existing program and going strong with it. I am finding that it is a huge learning hurdle for the students at the school to pick up on what FFA is and what it can do for them. Hopefully I can get the recruitment going strong very soon!

                      4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

                           I just finished my first year so I am still in "survival" mode. I have better idea on what I can improve on and what to do differently coming this year. I really want to build up the FFA chapter that I started last fall and hopefully continue to make it strive. It is at a small rural school so I'm not sure how much growing my program can do but the numbers that I had this last year are pretty good for the amount of kids in the high school so I guess that is a positive.

                      • 8. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                        Robin McLean Top CoP


                        So much of what you shared parallels my thinking. I love the concept of helping students be citizens of the world.

                        • 9. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                          Robin McLean Top CoP

                          Excited to see a first year teacher joining the discussion with your perspective. It's good to have the reminder of optimistic youth.

                          • 10. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                            Becky DeShazo Neighbor

                            Why do schools exist?

                            What a great question!  And, I think it is one we really need to think about.  In today’s environment, students are learning through home schooling, online academies and other avenues.  So why DO schools exist?  What can students get out of schools that they can’t get out of other options?   Mortimore Adler suggested that there were three purposes. 

                            1. 1. development of citizenship
                            2. 2. personal growth or self-improvement
                            3. 3. occupational preparation

                            I think I agree with him.  A school, especially an agriculture education program provides the opportunity to achieve these purposes, which would be more difficult to achieve in other avenues of education. 

                            Why do we need teachers and leaders?

                            If you agree with Adler, then teachers and leaders are the role models in the pursuit of citizenship, personal growth and occupational preparation. We should be the “guides on the sides” that lead students to grow in these ways.  Now how do we do that? That’s got to be another question!

                            Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

                            Thirty plus years ago, I entered this profession.  Looking back I’m not sure I can pinpoint the exact reasons. I guess I hoped to be a good teacher of what I loved, agriculture.  I can’t say I wanted to be a great FFA advisor because I wasn’t allowed to be in FFA when I was in high school.  I hoped to be successful and I must admit I wanted to show that women could be good teachers.  There were only about 20 teaching at the time among the hundreds of men teachers.  I can tell you it was fun to walk past all the guys standing in line and walk straight into the ladies room at teacher’s conference.  But seriously, in the beginning I was just trying to survive.  Now I strive to learn new ways of teaching and leading kids.  I have achieved a great deal in this occupation. Right now I just want to continue to relate to my students and lead as many as I can to be the great people they can be. 

                            What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

                              This is another great question that requires some thought.  Of course I feel my purpose is to do all I can to prepare my students for their future.  But, I think I might have a second fundamental purpose.  I’ve had 4 student teachers in the last 2 years.  I’m around young teachers a lot.  I feel I serve the purpose of being an encourager, a mentor, an educational/FFA resource and an experienced ear.

                            • 11. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                              Jessica Bester Neighbor

                              I decided to focus on only 2 of the questions. 

                              1. Why do schools exist?

                              Although there are many ideas of why schools exist between students, parents, community members and school staff, I believe that schools are here to prepare students for life outside of the classroom and their parents homes.  Of course students needs to know the academics, however, they also should be tying those skills to life skills and why many students ask the questions, “When will I ever use this?”  Now many of them may never need the calculus they are learning but the perseverance and problem solving skills they are learning will help them in their lives.  Many times the answer is simply, “there may not be a specific example however the skills you are gaining while doing this homework will be helpful, along with the fact that it may not be something you like to do, but it’s something you have to do.”

                              1. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?


                              At first I entered the education profession because I had grown up on a dairy farm and wanted to teach others about agriculture and I had found that I liked to work with kids.  Little did I know the amount of work and extra responsibilities that would come with it.  My hopes and dreams were to develop curriculum that excited students about agriculture and become an FFA Advisor like the one I grew up with, always working to make it a bigger, better chapter.  My dreams as still the same and I have been growing and learning along the way to make them come true.  They just may take a little longer than I thought.  I thought everything I knew about agriculture and FFA was all I would ever need, boy was I wrong.


                              • 12. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                                Jerry Janisch Neighbor

                                1. Why do schools exist?

                                School exist for several reasons: 

                                1st is to teach students those skills that they need to survive in the world, reading, math, trade skills, etc.  Along with the basic skills, we expose the students to poetry, music classes, art, history and culture, classic literature, so the students has a working knowledge of the around them and the past events.   

                                The second thing schools do is expose students to work together in groups.  We are becoming more connect as an society, students need to know how to interact with other people, how to handle conflicts, how to get along in society.

                                Schools also exist to expose students to things that they would never experience on their own.  This could be having a young lady trying welding the first time; have the football player make a flower arrangement, the student making the first prepare dish.  Along with these experiences, students are gearing to what career they might be interested in, or should they go to 4 year college or 2-year tech program.  School mode students and help them prepare for their future. 


                                2. Why do we need teachers and leaders? 

                                Yes with Youtube, and other websites, it seems like teachers are not needed.  But I believe that a classroom teacher gives parts of themselves through the lessons we teach and the relationships that have with students.  I try to relay my experiences so students learn from not only my success, but also my failures/mistakes.  Students watch us and learn how  we judge people, how we interact with others.  We are also needed to guide students and to pick them when they fall down, bush them off and say ok lets try it this way.  Students can learn skills by watching a Youtube video.  But to gain knowledge and understanding about life and the world around them, we all need that person(s) guiding us through the maze of life. 


                                3. Why did I enter the education profession? What were my hopes and dreams then? What are they now?

                                I believe that destiny played a role me becoming a teacher.  I had two friends signing up for the AgEd major and at the time I had to idea what major I was going to try.  The College Professor handled them a form to fill out and he tend toss me one and said "since they are filling out one, you might as well."  That is how I became a AgEd major.  I took my first job a school district, where the high school building burnt down in January and I was hired in June.  I was just going to teach for a few years and spent 10 years there.  Than I moved to a new district, to face new challenges and being here at Milbank for 25 years.  I believe, and still do that I can make a difference in a student life


                                When starting out, I had goals but the goals were limited to my experiences, and other circumstances. In my early career, little things like maybe placing top 5 in a CDE meant a lot to me, having the majority of the high students in my courses meant a lot to me.  I dreamt of having a team competing at the National level.  Can a student get $100 scholarship offered by some local sponsor.  I looked just at getting the student through high school, not really thinking about the impact I could have beyond high school.  Students were in the program, because they were from a rural background and FFA gave the non-athletic student a role in school.  But as the program grew, so did my hopes to being involved in the community.  So we did more planning and goal setting of having students do more community involvement and being recognize at the State FFA for that involvement. 


                                Coming to Milbank, after being pushed by a Principal about goal setting, not just for me but for my program, I look at things different.  I push the students a lot more in everything we do. 

                                I have lessen the "what is in it for me" to a way of thinking, of "what can this do for the student,"  I also have embraced the concept that Milbank Student can compete at any level, be it state, national etc, but they need the training and support to be successful.  That is where I come in, I find the support, be it financial, or other people to help to do the training.  I push the students to do their best. I stress to them it takes the same amount of time to fail as it does to be successful, so we might as well be successful.  If we do not win an CDE, instead of blaming something, we look at what we need to do different and fix those things--- the "don't get mad, get even."  I stress to the students that everything we do will have an impact on their life and that they can make a difference in someone else life along with their life.  I have as many as four teams participate at the National CDE in one year.  But I stress to them just participating is one thing, but if you do well, doors will be open that can affect their future, never give up and remember what is at the end of the tunnel.  Students do community projects, not because it is FFA related, but because it can make a difference in someone else life and we need to give back.  Example, students do a lot of projects for the local Cancer Walk, they dream up the project, do the work and the credit, the student sees that their work is making a difference.   


                                4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

                                The fundamental purpose is that I can make a difference in a student life.  I give students experiences/success that they never dream of that will help them be successful in their future life. 

                                • 13. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                                  Robin McLean Top CoP


                                  Interesting way to enter the profession.

                                  • 14. Re: Know the Way Discussion
                                    Jim Russ Mentor

                                    1.Why do schools exist?

                                    It is a place for students to meet to gain a formal education and gain skills that will be useful as they become positive citizens of their communities.  The definition of a formal education depends on the teacher you that you ask.  I believe that there is a place for all students and it is our responsibility to help them find their way.  Yes, it does included community service, leadership, and citizenship along with the 4 Cs of the 21 Century Skills.

                                    2. Why do we need teachers and leaders?

                                    Teachers should be positive role models for the students.  They are important in the school system to provide direction and order and encourage the student to push past the point that they believe they are capable of achieving.  It is also important for students to understand that world today requires continued education. Leaders provide direction, and demonstrate new techniques.  I would consider teachers to be leaders of the students.

                                    3. Why did I enter the education profession?

                                    I really enjoyed my Vo-Ag classes and Ag teachers in high school.  I had Joe Townsend and Les Mardorf and I still keep in touch with them.  I had a great student teaching experience and became very close with the instructor, Dennis Selness.  I wanted to educate students to the importance of agriculture and the careers that were available.  Leadership, community service and cooperation were also things that felt very strongly about.

                                    What were my hopes and dreams then?

                                    This was 1983 right during Agriculture Crisis and I planned to teach for 5 years and then join a cooperative and become a manager.  It took about three to get my stomach relaxed and feel comfortable in the classroom everyday. (That is a story for another time)  I wanted to survive and get the students to respect me. Parents needed to realize agriculture was going to come around and their kids need to be involved in it.  It was my job to get students to compete in numerous events.

                                    What are they now?

                                    I am at a different school now year 32 coming up.  I want to provide information to my students that will assist them in developing career skills and hopefully interest them some area of agriculture or at least knowledgeable in agriculture so that they can provide positive information about agriculture.

                                    4. What is my fundamental purpose in my current role?

                                    I need to know who my students and parents are, especially the student in and out of school.  It is as important that the student know who I am also and what my non-negotiables are. Facilitate in the classroom as students develop the skills necessary for their future.

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