I am graduating in Ag Ed but I haven't had an "a-ha" moment in teaching. So my question is why teach? Why do you teach?
Hey BreeAnn -
I never really had an "a-ha" moment either. For me it was just a feeling of needing to give to students. To impart wisdom, to guide them on a path of trial and error and then trying again. For many students, it was to help them realize there was more to life than the one town we lived in. Some did not go on to pursue a career in anything related to agriculture but they did get out of town to discover what they really wanted to do and didn't settle for a local job just to stay in town. To help students find their true talent, whether they liked the talent or not. To teach students that winning and excellent don't occur just on a ball field, it can also occur at a podium, in a meat locker, or greenhouse. To teach students that adults (teachers) have faults, aren't perfect, make mistakes, and generally are as human as high schoolers are. We've simply had more time to learn lessons than they have. Because there is one student in a school who will otherwise drop out, but by some twist of fate got in your class, connected with the program, and somehow manages to make it to graduation and onto an entirely different path than if you decided a different career.
Now did I know all this going in? Far from it. You will go on a journey of growth and struggle just like your students. You will be tested, daily and sometimes hourly. It is a path to discover if you truly are a career teacher. Some will reach 20+ years of service and others will fall well short of that mark, including myself. That doesn't mean any of us failed as Ag teachers, but staying merely for the paycheck generally means you are failing your students. But that is true for any career, teaching or otherwise. But if you choose this path and succeed and grow as a chapter, then you will: be well fed by the community, one of the most well known teachers at the school and in town, win far more awards and grow far more leaders than any of the school sports combined and receive far less attention for it, fix more equipment and have more keys than the custodial staff, be the local medic and foster parent for plants and animals alike, serve more chicken plates than students, and asked by the administration to do 10 times more than the regular ed teachers with very little extra pay and still only have 24 hours in a day. Yet you sign a contract to do it again next year because you wouldn't have it any other way.
So don't worry if you never get an a-ha moment. There are 1,000 other little things that I didn't list that will get you up in the morning and get you to point your truck towards the school one more time so that you can stand by the owl and do what needs to be done for the students who don't know it yet, but need an Ag program in their life.
Brian and BreeAnn,
I'm in my 4th month of teaching after starting at the semester and have my chapter banquet TOMORROW! I'm a little stressed, to say the least! Brian, thank you for posting this because it's completely true. This is by far the most challenging thing I've ever faced, but it's been worth every second. It's the little things that really matter. The excited face that a freshman gave me after seeing the back of a national officers jacket and realizing who he was, helping a girl who isn't even in FFA fill out her cosmetology school application, and watching a "nobody" excel in mechanics have been some of the most rewarding moments in my life. You'll feel it in little ways, but you need to be open to feeling it too. Go into it with the mindset that it will be hard work, but it will be worth it. Keep at it BreeAnn and if you ever need to talk to anyone both Dr. Lawver and Dr. Warnick are great people and can help you in a ton of ways! You can also e-mail me too firstname.lastname@example.org!
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