2 Main Reasons Ag Teachers Have Conflict at School

June 27, 2016

2 Main Reasons Ag Teachers Have Conflict at School

It's bound to happen now and again.  Something went down on your watch and the "Suits" weren't privy to it, and now they want to talk.  Or, a bright idea was conceived on high and brought to you like Moses and the tablets.  However, they can tell by your expression you aren't remotely amused or interested in their next bright idea, so now you are in the dog house with the front office yet again.  But that's only two examples and I am sure you can come up with a 1,000 more ways conflict arises with administrators, parents, students, or state staff.  So what gives?

I can't remember who coined this concept, so I'll claim it as my own until I figure it out who did.  Almost always, conflict arises from one of two issues: lack of communication or lack of information.  Unfortunately that's as simple as it gets.  Go back over the last few conflicts that arose in your life with your family, friends, or school staff.  Odds are there was a lack of communication by someone or the decision maker didn't have the correct information to make the proper decision. 

Mind you that critical piece of information could be, "You have to go to the grocery store this afternoon because I lack a device that can replicate me 5 times to make that happen.  If you don't, then the kids won't have anything for lunch tomorrow."  You know your significant other wanted you to run by the store, but you failed to realize the importance of the trip.  So you filed that important task with painting the barn, pressure washing the tractor, and scraping the mystery goo you discovered in the Ag Shop last week.  Annnnd, you forgot.  So now you are in a lot of hot water. 

So where does that leave you?  We all know you can't call the office or your spouse every 15 minutes to update them on your every movement and receive updated marching orders.  We live in the information age, but that's still a bit much.  The key is to find a common theme in the conflicts.  Do you forget the task because it just doesn't seem important based on the information provided? Does the principal fail to understand exactly how much time you don't have in order to complete their weekly pet projects?  Do the parents fail to see that you don't have a personal secretary to handle the 14,000 things you have to somehow manage to accomplish while teaching, feeding, cleaning, and coaching?

For your spouse, it might be taking an extra 15 seconds to find out the importance of the errand.  Those extra 15 seconds of the discovery bumps up the store visit from, "the world won't end if I forget", to, "If I don't go, then the kids don't eat."  It's a matter of applying the necessary knowledge to motivate you.  It's the difference between "The cows are out" and "All 250 cows are in the road, blocking traffic, and the Sheriff would like a word or two".  It's all about receiving the right information to get you motivated. 

For the suits, you should casually pull out your planner and see when they want the project completed versus when you have time to complete it.  When they start naming times and dates and you communicate what you have scheduled already, then by the 5th or 6th time they realize that "Wow, you really are busy."  Because to a principal, everybody is busy.  At least that's what all the teachers tell them.  However, they always manage to cajole the teacher into just a bit more.  You have to find a way to illustrate exactly how busy you are in a way they understand.  So the principal knowing that you are busy is completely different from them understanding how busy you really are.  It's not what you tell them, it's what you show them.  Now don't grab some leftover chapter meeting snacks and march up to the main office and sit down for a pity party with your principal.  That won't sell your case.  They'll be much more receptive when it is something they want as opposed to you busting in like John Wayne and plopping your planner down on their desk. 

Parents...that's another animal.  They are trying to get every advantage for their child even if it means stepping on you, the school, and every other child in your FFA Chapter.  On top of that, some parents want you to be the 3rd parent of their child even at the expense of your own children which you already neglect and don't see often enough.  What you have to convey and they must understand is that you are here to make that child a functional member of society.  Parents live in the ideal world, but Ag teachers live in the real world.  Once the parents understand that their child has to start guiding their own life and that you'll be there to keep them on course, then and only then, can you truly help the student.  Some parents never get that and it's too bad, but if you can illustrate to them that Johnny can be everything Suzie was last year if he does the 1,000 little things she did everyday on her own and not because of the Ag teacher, then he has a chance to be great.  The Ag teacher can't make Johnny do it and doing the task for him won't help him in the long run.  And lord knows you don't have time to be chairman of their "Johnny Feel Better Committee."

So do a little thinking next time you are driving around the county and try to find some common themes for people who you seem to clash with regularly.  What's the root of the issue? Then find an action or other means to illustrate the conflict with the person. Hopefully, the other party is willing to listen and you both can find a way to make the long term situation better.   Good luck with this and please let us know your thoughts.  Please follow us on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Send us your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest handles and we'll be glad to follow as well. You can also contact me at brian@onelessthing.net.  You can also jump over to the store side of our website at www.OneLessThing.net