Back in January, I had the pleasure of facilitating a meeting that consisted of college professors attending the National Ag Ed Inservice. Through the course of the conversations concerning teacher education, the topic turned to SAEs. The professors in the room were perplexed about the fact that while they stress how important SAEs are to their students, studies have found that once they hit the classroom, teachers do not utilize SAEs very well and, in some cases, not at all.
Let’s take a moment and think back to our college days when we learned about the agricultural education model with the three overlapping rings. We all remember the professor drawing the circles, maybe even using different colored markers (or chalk, if you’re as old as I am), filling them in with the appropriate label and explaining how we should integrate SAE and FFA into our classroom instruction. So why does research show that we’re not actually practicing that integration for all of our students? We know how valuable it is; we see it and use it with a handful of our students. But why not all of them?
From personal experience, I know that those early years of teaching are about survival. You’re wrapped up in creating meaningful lessons, impacting student test scores, and creating masterpieces in the shop, greenhouse or livestock barn. In the meantime, you’re training FFA members to conduct effective meetings, operate committees, participate in CDEs and conduct a fabulous banquet, often on your personal time. It’s easy to put SAEs on the back burner. However, once you’ve become comfortable, you’re no longer preparing lessons the night before you teach them or trying to train members for every single event your district or state offers. You’re a pro at that stuff. So what’s your excuse now? Isn’t it time to take a good, hard look at why you’re supposed to be doing SAEs and what it is that’s keeping you from it?
We’ve got some great articles in this month’s edition of Making a Difference, highlighting teachers who are creative and innovative with their delivery of SAEs for all their students. But I’m asking you, the troops in the field, are SAEs still valuable and viable? Should SAE remain part of the 3-circle model of agricultural education?
Please post your thoughts and responses to the “Question for the Profession” in the NAAE Communities of Practice