Question for the profession

  • Print this page

  • Tell A friend

Is your tricycle missing a wheel or two? Or maybe you have not noticed you are about to crash your agricultural program?

If you have ever taught a toddler how to ride a tricycle, you know how much fun (and sometimes dangerous to you both) it can be to help them master their sense of balance so that all three wheels stay on the ground and they move forward. It is not very different when we are working to implement the 3-Component Model for School-Based Agricultural Education. The best programs in the country have all three wheels (i.e. instruction, experiential learning and leadership development, if you did not pick up on my metaphor) solidly on the ground, working together and producing forward motion. Programs that are struggling, do not have support, have unmotivated students, and change teachers like chameleons change colors are either unbalanced or are missing a wheel or two.

Now, I know you think I am being a bit harsh because there are so many things that affect how well a program operates. But stop and really think about it, because it all comes back to us as the classroom teacher. If we are not implementing all three components in just the right amounts, we get off balance just like a toddler on a tricycle and are headed for a crash.

This week I have visited with several individuals regarding the biggest issues we are facing in agricultural education and FFA.  Every one of them is amazed by the fact that no matter what the topic, it all leads back to a complete agricultural program. Our struggles with student engagement, our classrooms and chapters failing to reflect the diversity of our local communities, recruitment and retention of teachers, etc. would all be lessened if each and every one of our teachers put into the practice the Three-Component Model for School-Based Agricultural Education!

The articles in this issue of Making a Difference highlight master teachers who successfully and deeply engage students in all aspects of instruction, experiential learning and leadership development. They do not skimp on any of the three. Is it hard? Sure it is; if it was not, this issue would be on another topic. Is it impossible? Obviously not. We have got to quit segmenting what we do, keeping our classrooms separate from SAE and leadership development reserved for the good kids. We are our own worst enemy and create most of our own problems when we fail to put the complete agricultural program into action. We get our tricycle off balance, and then we are headed for a crash.

I want to appeal to the successful veteran teachers to post their best strategies for making the three-component model work for them. We can all benefit from your experiences and expertise in how to make it all work and move our programs forward. Post your strategies on the NAAE Communities of Practice so we all benefit.