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Taking it a Step Further

 Question for the Profession: What Does it Really Mean to “Teach with Purpose?”


Let’s look at some of the purposes for teaching. When we stand before a class, we intend to accomplish a host of things:  imparting knowledge, inspiring a love (or at least an appreciation) for agriculture, developing future leaders and productive citizens, modeling work ethic, inspiring loyalty, developing student problem-solving skills, and the list goes on and on and on.

So, if we’re aware of all these purposes, why do we question ourselves? Perhaps it’s because we find ourselves upset after an exam where student performance is less than stellar, and we can’t figure out why they didn’t get it. Or maybe, following a great hands-on experience, we ask students what they learned and get a response like, “It was better than book work.” Or how about when we coach our officer team to market FFA, and the best reason they can give students for joining is, “because you get out of school a lot.” And last but not least, what about when you put in a request for a field trip or to take students out of school for a competition, and you get pushback because the principal thinks you just want “another day out of school” yourself.

Each scenario causes the good teacher to really question their performance and ask themselves with every instructional event, “What am I trying to accomplish?” And “How do I get it done?” With today’s environment of accountability, we have to prove we add value to our students’ educational experiences. That causes us to really take stock of our teaching techniques, strategies, events and experiences. With that in mind, What does it really mean to teach with purpose? How do you turn every instructional action into a meaningful learning event? How do you turn a stock show into more than just a beauty pageant for kids and livestock? How do you make fundraisers more than just selling fruit or beef jerky? How do you turn CDE competition into more than just memorizing information and regurgitating it at the appropriate time? How do you Teach with Purpose?

Be sure to read the rest of the October issue of Making a Difference to see how a number of your peers accomplish this task and take advantage of the instructional plans created to help you teach with purpose. And please share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas with regard to teaching with purpose on the NAAE Communities of Practice. It is through sharing and discussion that we can grow into the educators we all want to be.