Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Closer Look at SAE's

Supervised Agricultural Experience otherwise known as SAE is a vital part of agriculture education.  It serves as the opportunity where students are able to apply and showcase skills that they have learned both in the classroom and in FFA activities through a project of any type.  There is a way to turn almost anything you do into an SAE whether it be raising a livestock project for the fair, working at a local business, or even volunteering in your community.  There are endless opportunities to turn your students experiences and interests into an SAE. Through SAE, students are also able to discover what self-directed learning is.  They are able to take learning into their own hands and dig deeper into the things that interest them.  All of this being said, I was able to see some really interesting SAE while visiting some of the students of Selinsgrove High School.
I started my day off with Mrs. Fry by going to visit Kaitlin Shaffer.  Kaitlin is an incoming freshman
Free stall barn at
Kaitlin's Dairy Farm
to the Selinsgrove Ag Department and is just starting her SAE.  Thankfully her older sister has just graduated from the program and is helping her with small questions she has along the way. Kaitlin has two SAEs right now; swine finishing and on farm employment.  She is raising two market hogs for her local fair and has been keeping records of feed expenses, rate of gain, and once she shows them she will record how they placed and what they sold for. This is a very popular type of SAE with ag students.  In fact, most of my SAE's growing up were finishing projects that were exhibited at the fair. As I said before, Kaitlin also has an on farm employment SAE as well.  She lives and works on her family's dairy farm where they have robotic milkers.  She is able to log her hours and describe her duties on the farm in her records.  Since they have robotic milkers, none of her hours are dedicated to actually milking.  She spends most of her time during this project, helping with  feeding and keeping the milking facilities clean.  Being a dairy girl myself, I was very interested and curious about how things differ at a robotic farm versus traditional milk parlors. 
Jacob working on
the grill of his current
Next we went to visit Jacob Dock who serves as the FFA chapter's President.  His SAE was very interesting and was new to me.  Jacob does vehicle restoration as his SAE.  He has always had an interest in old cars and trucks and loved working on them in his free time.  So why not turn it into an SAE?  This was definitely new for me.  I knew that SAE's could be very unique but I never knew or thought about having a student have an SAE like this.  Jacob is currently working on two different vehicles.  One is completely tore apart in his garage as he is replacing the grill and various other parts on the truck.  The other is a project that he was working on and took for a test run.  Unfortunately, the test run didn't go very well so he is headed back to the drawing board to see what went wrong.  In his SAE, Jacob not only has to find vehicles to work on and then find parts to fix them but he also does a lot of fabrication.  On one of his finished projects, he replace the fenders and the bed of an old truck but he made it all on his own using the welding skills that he was able to learn in Mr. Swineford's classes at school.  Jacob was even a member of the 2nd place Ag Mechanics team at the Pennsylvania State FFA convention in June.  The team will be competing at the Big E in September.
Our last visit of the day was with Darrah Yerger.  Darrah also serves on the FFA
These are Darrah's Dutch Belted heifers
and her Belted Galloway bull calf. 
chapter's officer team as Secretary.  While driving to see Darrah, Mrs. Fry told me that Darrah had a little bit of everything at her place and I learned that she definitely does.  As we pulled up, I saw sheep, horses, chickens, beef cattle as well as produce fields and fruit orchards.  Darrah helps with all of the aspects of her families farm but her SAE's and focus is on the produce and fruit production as well as her small her of Dutch Belted cattle.  She has two heifers and one bull calf.  I actually learned from Darrah that she has Dutch Belted heifers which can be milked and are more like a dairy breed.  Her bull calf is a Belted Galloway which is the beef breed and get a lot more hair on them. Darrah also helps her dad with the produce and fruit production.  They grow tomatoes, green beans, peaches and apples.  Darrah helps her dad with planting, managing pests, harvesting and selling.  They are able to set up a produce stand at the Farmer's Market in Harrisburg and sell their fruits and veggies. 
Not only did Mrs. Fry just visit with her students and check to see how the SAE's were progressing but also on every visit she had the students pull up their record books and helped them with any questions or problems they were having.  We were able to show Kaitlin how to manage her breeding stock and where to enter the calves that were born.  Jacob had a few questions on how could he apply for a proficiency award and Darrah was curious where she entered experiences that related to her FFA office. 
I had a great day visiting with these Selinsgrove students and can't wait until I get to go on more visits.  I was able to see a variety of projects just in one day and I am curious to see what other unique SAE's are found within the program! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Don't be a microwave dinner

After reading several difference articles about the difference between effective and efficient teachers.  What I have taken away is that an efficient teacher does the right things while an effective teacher does things right!  Some may take a minute and say aren't those essentially the same thing, but when we start to think deeper, there is a huge difference!  When I sit back and think about the difference is as simple as the difference between a great teacher and a mediocre teacher.  An efficient teacher does do all the right things.  These are the teachers that dump information on students, makes the powerpoints, force students to take notes; all the "right" things to do for students to learn.  They teach everything by the book and don't change it up for fear of something going wrong.  However, these are the teachers that students hate going to their class.  They are long, tedious boring and bland classes that can be replicated by anyone; just like a microwave dinner.
These lessons have nothing interesting or special about them.  They are just standard and flavorless.  I never want to be a microwave dinner teacher!  I want to continuously keep introducing new flavors to my teaching. Even if I try something and it doesn't work as planned, it will still be an experience that impact my students and they will remember it.  I never want my classes to be predictable and easy to be replicated.  From the articles plus from an addition article, 6 Traits of Life-Changing Teachers, I have started to think past the obvious things and how to introduce things like humor, positive reinforcement and structuring comments into my lessons and teaching style.  I just always need to remember that I never want to teach like a microwave dinner; be flavorful and memorable!!

Link to article referenced:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success Part 2

Mindset: The New Psychology of Sucess Part 2
I have been super busy the past few weeks between getting to experience the Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators (PAAE) Summer Conference and going on my first of several visits to future students' SAE projects, both events to which I will be blogging about very soon!  Between it all I have been able to read the second part of my book and I must say it is starting to really get interesting.  The first few chapters were mainly overviews, ideas, and definitions of what both fixed and growth mindset are.  In the next few chapters, it starts to discuss specific stories, studies and examples of how your type of mindset can influence you life and decisions that you make.  My cooperating teacher, Valerie Fry, and I have both really started to reflect on not only how our types of mindsets will influence us both in the classroom in the upcoming months but how it has truly shaped the way our lives are.  Shall we begin? 
Chapter 4: Sports and the mindset of a champion
This chapter  I actually really got into reading about the backgrounds of some of the most legendary sports heroes we know today like Michael Jordan, Wilma Rudolph, Mia Hamm, Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth!  All of these people who we idolize all started as athletes who were not so hot in their fields.  None of them were considered naturals which what everyone thinks you have to be in order to succeed in sports.  In fact, most sports agents aren't looking for natural raw talent anymore, they are looking for a good player with an even better mindset.  All of these amazing players and athletes got
to where they are today because of their mindset.  A popular movie called A Cinderella Story has a famous line that has stuck with me (see photo to the right for quote).  This is truly the message that this chapter is pitching home (pun intentional)!  It is saying that if your not the strongest, the fastest, or whatever your excuse is; there is absolutely not reason that you cannot succeed if your mind lets you!  Don't let your mindset hold you back!
This chapter also talks about character and what it is deep down.  "Character is the ability to dig down and find the strength even when things are going against you."  This book does a great job of explaining that character grows out of mindset.  When someone wants to work hard and knows that no matter what, at the end of the day, as long as they have put everything into themselves and be able to say "I can do better or we will get them next time with more practice".  This isn't something that is easy to say or something that you want to say.  We would all like to say that we have growth mindset and that we never give up, but we all know deep down there is that one thing that we have turned our backs on.  This is when character has to be learned.  We have to learn to pick up the pieces, move on and try harder.  We have to learn to put our best foot forward even when things are not going for us.  We have to learn to have heart!  When we learn these things is when we will truly have the mind of a champion; a mind focused on growth!  My take away moment: Mindset is MORE important than talent!- I want my students as I go into my adventure to take risks.  If they are able to word hard, be dedicated and have a growth mindset they will have no barriers! 
Chapter 5: Business mindset and leadership
This chapter really made me think.  I am not very good when it comes to business and it is actually a great struggle of mine.  So when I headed into this chapter I was terrified that it was going to be talking over my head the whole time.  Thankfully, it brought it down to my kind of terms and didn't talk so much on the business end but more on how to be a successful leader and not letting your victories over take your mind.  There was a lot of discussion in the book about different CEOs and heads of companies who started out as geniuses in business, who were going to set so many companies on the fast track to success.  Only a few of the stories provided ended that way.  In all the others, these smooth and fast talking individuals who at first were very good at their jobs.  They quickly got caught up in the image and worrying about what would happen to that image if they failed even slightly.  Instead of admitting that maybe their ideas didn't work they wanted, they would sooner lie to investors and the public.  They just want to prove that they are better than everyone else.  They are only concerned about their reputation and have no concerns about the employees or the business itself.  This starts a bigger problem as these great geniuses don't want great teams to support them.  Eventually, the business will get rid of the toxic leader or unfortunately will fail completely.  The real sad part is that these toxic leaders were happy to see the company fail, they would rather see it close because of them than let someone else come along and gain praise for fixing it. 
Thankfully, the past has shown business owners and investors that these fixed mindset leaders will only harm the business.  They are looking for leaders who maintain a healthy sense of confidence.  Usually these are those who didn't set out to be leaders at all.  They didn't want to prove themselves, they just wanted to do what they love and see where it took them.  Leadership is all about growth and passion which is exactly what growth mindset is all about!  Being able to admit, I don't know what I'm doing can someone tell/show me how it is done is crucial in any type of leadership position.  These are people who are focused on how can the entire group better themselves by working there.  Are they able to push their minds and use their creativity to be able to create a new and better idea than the leader has.  In return that leader is able to say "Look, Joe has worked hard and came up with this great idea!"  My take away moment: Great leaders don't use the word me, they only say we! - I hope that I as a teacher, a leader of the classroom, realize this and remember it as I go forward.  I want us as a class to succeed together in this adventure, not just me! 
Chapter 6: Relationships mindsets in love or not
This chapter was all about how our mindset can affect all of our relationships with others; family members, friends and significant others.  We all have had a bad relationship once in our lives.  It may have been a co-worker, a friend, or even a family member.  When you part ways is when your true mindset will come out.  There two things you can think:  1. Revenge:  All you want for that person is hurt and pain for what they have done or 2. Forgiveness: You walk away saying I have a whole life to live and I am not going to let this hold me back, it went wrong and it's ok.  Can you guess which one is the fixed mindset?  Growth mindset people are able to know how to move on and embrace the future because they know that even though it didn't work out, they were able to learn something about themselves because of it.  There is no great relationship without conflicts and problems so you must be willing to learn as you go.  Which leads me to another favorite quote of mine that echoes this books message.  Country Singer, John Michael Montgomery tells us all in a famous song that "Life's a dance you learn as you go, sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow"( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLrnwnNycoQ ).  As people come into and out of your life you need to take advantage of the time you have with them and learn as much as you can about that person because in return you will learn more about yourself.  An important part of this chapter focuses on the friendships we make in our lives.  We need to search out for those that are going to guide us in wisdom, encourage and reassure us, and sometimes praise us.  There can be dangers in praise as I will later read about in the book, but as humans we all need a little bit of praise every once in a while to boost our moral and help us to not give up.  We also need to not worry about finding perfect people to surround ourselves with.  There are not perfect people and if you only look for perfection you will never learn or grow.  My take away moment: Things don't always work!  Forgive, forget and turn to those who you still have! - I will not win the heart of every student along the way.  I cannot let this bring me down.  I will work to become a better version of myself and learn from that of how I can connect better with all students! 
I am looking forward to what the last section of the book has in store for me!  I know that by reading this, it will only make me a better and more aware teacher of both my students' mindsets and my own.  I am already starting to brainstorm about how I can carry these ideas I have learned from this reading into how I can help inform others of how their mindset is key to how successful every aspect of their lives is!
Thanks for reading! 
- Macy

All Good Things Must Come To An End!

I've been sitting here the past two days working on wrapping up my assignments and getting ready to head back to Penn State to be with m...