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 Perspectives​​: Professional Development in Agricultural Education - The Nebraska Model

 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Agricultural Education Magazine and is an example of how one state has put a professional development plan into place. You can use it as a benchmark for your state’s professional development plan, or simply get some new ideas on how you can further your own plan.

 

An interesting reality about teaching is that everyone—regardless of who, when, where, why or how—has a first year of teaching. Whether your first year takes place in a high school, community college, technical institute or four-year university, we all begin from a common starting point. This shared experience reminds me of a quote by G. Spencer Brown, who so eloquently stated, “We cannot fully understand the beginning of anything until we understand the end (Fields, 1984).” Many of us spend our whole lives repeating beginnings without realizing what our end goal is, should be or could be in relationship with our students and our responsibilities as a teacher.

 

Do you remember what it was like when you first entered the agricultural education profession as a secondary teacher? I remember graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and accepting my first agricultural education position in Arkansas City, Kan., in the summer of 1982. I recall attending my first annual agriculture teachers’ conference in early August and having someone from the Kansas teachers’ association tell me they could answer any question I had about teaching or the agricultural education profession in general. The problem was that I had no idea what the questions were—let alone trying to seek any answers.

 

It was not until the first day of school in front of the first class of the day that all my questions came forward and took center stage. Suddenly, I was thinking, “Now where are all those experienced teachers I met back in August?” I didn’t have time to make a phone call to the neighboring agricultural education teacher. Why hadn’t e-mail been invented yet? Or the Internet? Why couldn’t I just Google all the answers to my questions? So many questions…not enough time in the day…and it is only Monday…when is Labor Day this year???

 

The Nebraska Model of Professional Development in Agricultural Education is a comprehensive program designed to guide, direct and encourage involvement in the Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association (NAEA). The model provides a holistic picture for new teachers entering agricultural education (0–5 years in the profession), pre-veteran teachers (6–10 years in the profession) and veteran teachers (more than 10 years in the profession). Nebraska agricultural education teachers representing the 12 NAEA districts participated in a strategic planning process over an 18-month period and developed a comprehensive plan for its teachers. As a result, the committee developed four key strategic priorities for Nebraska agricultural education. One priority identified was professional development, which is outlined in the chart below.

 

Professional Development Plan (PDP) for Nebraska Agriculture Educators

 

 

New Teachers

(0–5 years in the profession)

 

 

Pre-Veteran Teachers

(6–10 years in the profession)

 

Veteran Teachers

(more than 10 years in the profession)

  • Attend NCE conference
    • Participate in the New Teachers’ Workshop at NCE conference on Sunday before conference
    • Work with district mentor for information about NCE conference
  • NAEA membership and involvement
    • District mentor provided by NAEA for in and out of school support
    • Continued NCE conference involvement
    • NAEA awards application completed and submitted by the fifth year of teaching

 

 

  • NAEA membership and involvement
    • NCE conference involvement
    • NAEA awards application completed and submitted
  • District and state officer/leadership involvement
    • District leadership and participation
    • State leadership and participation
  • NAEA membership and involvement
    • NCE conference involvement
    • NAEA awards application completed and submitted
  • District and state officer/leadership involvement
    • District leadership and participation
    • State leadership and participation
      • May include regional and/or national involvement
    • Potential responsibility in leading and delivering in-service workshops for NAEA and NCE conference
    • Potential service as a mentor for new NAEA members

 

  • ALEC 804 involvement
    • Required involvement and participation
    • Must be a current NAEA member
    • Start a graduate program
    • Tuition rebate for the successful completion of ALEC 804 (pending approval)

 

  • Begin the Leadership Academy
    • Application completed and submitted for the Leadership Academy
    • Graduate program continued
      • Started if not in a program
    • Consideration for a UNL student teaching center
  • Complete the Leadership Academy
    • If not started, then application submitted for the Leadership Academy
    • Complete graduate program
    • Consideration for a UNL student teaching center

 

  • Eight (8) hours of technical workshop experience each year
    • NAAE summer workshops
    • UNL inservice activities
    • Industry training

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NCE – Nebraska Career Education

 

NAEA – Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association

 

ALEC 804 – Problems of Beginning Agriscience Teachers - graduate course through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)

 

NAAE – National Association of Agricultural Educators

 

  • Eight (8) hours of technical workshop experience each year
    • NAAE summer workshops
    • UNL inservice activities
    • Industry training

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Leadership Academy is a two-year program designed to accelerate the professional growth of selected agriculture educators through a variety of applied leadership experiences related to school, civic and governmental situations.

  • Eight (8) hours of technical workshop experience each year
    • NAAE summer workshops
    • UNL inservice activities
    • Industry training
  • Refresher workshops and in-service participation in professional education such as methods, program planning, evaluation and assessment, cooperating student teaching centers, etc.
  • ITP (Individual Teacher Plan) created and implemented

 

 

 

The agricultural education profession is like no other career and technical education discipline. We are a close-knit, well organized and highly-professional group of teachers who go to great lengths to nurture not only beginning teachers, but also veteran teachers in our organization. Boreen, Johnson, Niday and Potts (2000) said it best when they stated, “The finest, most rewarding professional development generally occurs by working and learning alongside trusted colleagues (pg. 99).

 

The Nebraska Model provides a professional development plan that details the expectations required for all teachers in agricultural education and offers numerous opportunities for teachers to grow professionally and assume additional roles and responsibilities within the profession. Having this vision laid out in a professional development model provides a holistic picture of what is possible, probable and preferable for an individual’s participation in our profession. There is an engraving on a church in Sussex, England, dating back to 1730, which states, “A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world (Fields, 1984).” The Nebraska Model provides both a “vision” and a “task” of professional development for our teachers—our best hope for the future of agricultural education.

 

References

 

Boreen, J., Johnson, M., Niday, D., & Potts, J. (2000). Mentoring beginning teachers. Portland,

Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

 

Fields, R. (1984). Chop wood, carry water. Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher, Inc.