By Nathan Torrance, Cheyenne FFA Advisor
Growing up on a farm, my dad always said, “Do it right the first time and you only have to do it once.” How true this statement is even now as an agricultural education instructor. Having the right tools and resources is vital for the success of any teacher but especially true for the agricultural education instructor who is pulled in so many directions with classroom, FFA, supervised agricultural experience programs, career development events and all the other acronyms that we facilitate. Along with having the proper tools in order to be successful, I have found that organization follows close at hand. As I think over my 13-year-career in the agricultural education program, I made a list of some of the organizational skills that I would encourage every instructor to utilize:
- Organize an officers’ retreat to kick off the year and create a calendar of events.
- Submit the calendar to the office as soon as possible to secure FFA dates for the year.
- Post upcoming dates in the classroom for all students to stay informed.
- Have monthly officer meetings/meals to focus on meeting chapter goals.
- Use a spreadsheet for fundraisers to keep track of items and money.
- Make notes about each FFA activity or function to continue the success in the future. Make notes pertaining to what worked, didn’t work, too much, not enough, number of workers needed, preparation needed, costs, improvements needed, etc.
- Plan your teaching year by units taught while looking at a calendar so that you can plan most effectively when to teach units and how long.
When one is organized and has the right tools to use, the tasks at hand are much more easily accomplished. The National FFA Organization provides many resources that offer valuable tools for instructor’s toolboxes to ensure their success. Many times we as agriculture instructors fail to pick up tools that would make our job much simpler and more effective in the classroom. Listed below are some tools and resources that have helped me have a dynamic, student-centered classroom:
- Utilize the FFA Learn Center, ffa.learn.com. Two resources that I use extensively are the LifeKnowledge Online curriculum and leadership evaluations for students and the Middle School Food and Agricultural Literacy Curriculum used in my eighth-grade classes.
- Use the many resources available on the Internet from other states and schools. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it is already invented.
- Don’t forget about the Core Catalog from national FFA. There are so many resources available to assist in helping you to be successful in the classroom or with the CDE teams.
- Utilize technology (computers, smartboards, iPads, etc.) to continue to keep students engaged and a part of the classroom learning environment.
- Use SchoolTube to keep all students engaged and apart of national FFA activities.