Challenging Your Officers During Challenging Times

May 01, 2020

Deciding on how to interview and choose your officer team is often an evolving process. As the years go on, you find yourself tweaking your application process, revising your interview questions, and redesigning your election procedures. And then COVID comes along and throws a big old wrench in the works. 

Now in addition to all the usual refinements you tend to make, you also have to figure out how to do everything online (as if you needed more Google Docs and Forms in your life). It’s enough to make even the most enterprising Advisor throw up their least for an afternoon. 

But the nice thing about Ag teachers is that we aren’t like most people. Ag teachers are used to a challenge. Even during non-quarantine times, the ins-and-outs of the officer selection process are fraught with drama and turmoil. This year is just a different challenge. 

So if you are struggling with what to do about next year’s officer team, remember that your current officers need something to do, something to focus on. Use them to help work through this situation. In fact, having a task to tackle will provide them a respite from all the other stuff going on right now. So challenge them to look at planning for next year in a new light. Here are a few ways to challenge them.

Focus on Impact

If there is indecision or uncertainty about what next year will be like, that’s okay. You can use that to your advantage to gain some perspective. This is an opportunity to decide what is truly important to your chapter. Ask them what would they choose if chapter activities were limited (by time or circumstances) next year. 

Challenge: If we can only have three chapter activities next year, what would have the most impact on our members?

Example: If recruitment is one area that is important to your chapter, then make sure your officers focus on specific chapter activities that will bring in new members and retain old ones. Have them come up with new ones by looking through Pinterest or contacting members in other chapters to see how they get students excited about FFA. 

The POA is a Plan Not a Contract

Remember that the Program of Activities helps you plan and guide your chapter. It isn’t a contact. There is room for adjustments.  Go ahead and have your officers work on next year's Program of Activities even if it needs to change later. It is better to have a plan and adjust it then scramble to make a plan when school is kicking off. 

Challenge: How can we design a POA that would be easy to adjust if things aren’t "back to normal” next year?

Example: If your kickoff meeting has lots of student interaction through games and activities, build in a contingency plan that has a virtual version like a scavenger hunt for FFA items around your house “something that is corn gold” or a picture of something that could correspond to an office station like a mailbox for the Secretary position.  

Move Forward

No one knows what life will be like this fall. Of course we all hope to go back to school on time and without any social restrictions in place. But the reality of it is, we may not. However, we can not let uncertainty keep us from making progress and moving forward. 

Right now your students could use something to look forward to (most teachers too). Your students may be reluctant to run for office if they think they won’t get a “real experience” or will “lose a year”. 

Plan for next year like it was a normal school year. Take the activities from the first challenge and the POA from the second challenge and have your officers pencil them into a calendar or planner*.  

Challenge: What can we do RIGHT NOW to prepare us to lead the chapter for next year?

Example: Collaborate on a list of qualities an officer should possess and make an officer contract that everyone agrees on. 

These current struggles are going to make your chapter better and can provide clarity on ways to serve your members. Have your officers take it as an opportunity for growth and you may be surprised how well next year turns out. 

*If you want to get your officers excited about next year and focus on their duties and responsibilities, our own April Davis (Ag teacher extraordinaire) of Perfectly Planned makes Officer Books that will jump start your process and keep them accountable throughout the school year. Check out the preview here and order books here for 2020-2021. (Preview may not work on mobile.)