Why are the "good" Ag teachers revered? Why are their stories legendary in their town and even their state? The truth. You always get the truth from these Ag teachers. There isn't a lot of fluff or even much of a dog and pony show when you meet these men and women. You get the person, warts and all, which is hard to come by these days. That's why students are drawn to them.
It's easy to have the biggest truck on campus and even have more livestock than anyone in town, but to be real with your students and explain to them life just isn't going to go their way everyday makes all the difference. We live in an age where some believe that most of the societal norms and rules of days gone by are just that, outdated. However, Ag teachers realize that you must have some structure to your life in order to achieve. To leave students to freely explore life with no limits to their desires or repercussions to their decisions leaves them with no structure to measure growth, achievement, and even their shortcomings. Ag teachers don't expect to be liked by all but they'll take you seriously and treat you similarly whether you want that or not.
You can call it tough love but it's more basic than that. Ag teachers just get it. You want to win or achieve, then you better show up and grow up. Otherwise you'll get what you've always gotten because you are doing what you've always done. At some point along the way in their lives Ag teachers realized that you can only motivate those who want to be motivated, teach those who want to learn, and mentor those who are ready to grow. Now that doesn't mean they gave up on the students still sitting on the fence, but you can expend too much energy on the unwilling.
Ag teachers expect you to fail. They expect you to fall short, but they also expect that you'll stand up and try again...whenever you are ready to try again. Ag teachers are interested in the long game for each student. It's not about a single lecture or a homework assignment to them. It's about having students experience life outside the bubble they lived in up until the reached the Ag program. To go places, do things, meet people, and be a part of the bigger world and see that they aren't as quite as special as they thought they were, but also see that there's much more life to live than in their own town.
It's easy to see the 3 circles on a sheet of paper because that's how we view it. However, imagine looking at the circles from a new perspective and see that they are actually 3 spheres. This view brings to life a whole new dimension to illustrate their purpose. It's not about how many activities you can write in each circle. Instead it's about filling each sphere with experiences. Words are two dimensional, but life experiences are 3 dimensional and Ag teachers get that.
So as you begin your school year as an aspiring Ag teacher, new Ag teacher, or seasoned Advisor remember that you can let your students live life as they see it or instead guide them down life's path through experiences in the FFA, labs, and SAE projects. They won't always win, they won't always like it, but it's always the truth and students need that now more than ever.
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