During the summer months, while many teachers are taking a much-needed respite, there is no rest for the agriculture instructor. Whether you’re attending officer retreats, livestock shows, county fairs or SAE visits, it’s not easy to let go of the projects you and your students worked so hard on during the school year. While no one is suggesting you “let go” completely, there are ways you can lighten your SAE visit load, AND incorporate many of the lessons you’ve taught throughout the year. Below are just a few tips and suggestions to ensure you aren’t inundated with summer work.
- Coordinate visits so that students with similar SAE programs go to a central site for instruction, review of records and planning. With this method, you get more “bang” for your time and can, therefore, provide better instruction.
- Bring alumni or resource persons along on group visits to provide additional instruction, expertise and options.
- Time spent at fairs, shows and similar summer activities can be used for instruction and supervision. Have students bring record books and use downtime and prep time for discussions of records, plans and providing counsel.
- Time spent traveling with students can be perfect for planning and discussing challenges and problems they’re having with their SAEs. Often, problem solving moves better with more heads on the subject. Try creating trivia games or game shows like “Cash Cab,” for example, to encourage learning and discussion of SAEs in the group.
- Parent-teacher conferences can become SAE visits.
- When calling parents about any topic, throw in a discussion about their child’s SAE.
- Double your shopping/business/dinner outings with a quick check with the student’s employer concerning their SAE.
- Get parents to be the supervisor by having an easy checklist or rubric for them to evaluate their child’s work ethic.
- Have the students submit pictures of themselves performing their SAE, along with their record books, for their grade. This way, you don’t have to visit, they have to do the work, and you’ve got pictures for future award applications. If you’ve got a video camera, have them create a 10-minute video of their project. (Make sure you give them specific items to include in their presentation, so you don’t get 10 minutes of random wandering and discussion.)
- Not every SAE activity has to be outside of class. Some of the best ones are incorporated into the classroom environment.
- Hold a summer SAE tour. Line up 6-8 students with diverse SAEs, book a school bus, and take a trip around the county with a load of younger students to see what the “older kids” are doing in their SAEs. Having the younger students show such an interest provides incentives for new SAEs and creates pride for students on the tour. Hold a cookout at one of the houses to wrap up the tour and answer questions. (If you have 3-4 students working at the same place, that can be one stop, and all students can talk about what they do on their job.)
- Prepare a student availability spreadsheet for students to identify times of the summer they know they will be available or gone on vacation/camps/activities. Award points for signing up. The first ones to sign up for a specific day receive the most points. The last to pick a day receive the fewest. This saves time trying to line up visits.
- Classroom SAE idea: Treat the class as a business, where grades serve as paychecks, and assessments are job evaluations. Have students clock in and out, assign committees, and have meetings to solve production problems. (works well in greenhouse or shop environment)
Don’t let yourself get bogged down with SAE visits. Using one or several of these tips will allow you to cut some of your workload and have a moment (or two) of relaxation this summer.