Let's face it, from time to time everyone needs a fresh perspective on their job and teachers are no different. When you can recite the lecture without notes and can handle the activity blindfolded then the days get very humdrum. There's no easy answer, but it sounds like you've plateaued and need to ratchet up the level of difficulty for your students and yourself. Please stick with me, I'll take a floral design discussion on "butt flowers" to illustrate.
Yes, I said it "butt flowers" What are they? Everyone knows the traditional floral blanket that they drape on horses after it wins a big race, but out west rodeo queens and parade horses often get a little flashy on the hindquarters too. The true name is a parade flower pack or flower backpack but to non-florists it often goes by the name butt bouquet or butt flowers. The question is how do you as an Ag teacher make that work in the classroom from nothing but a picture? You're tired of doing the same old arrangements but that looks impossible. That's where you and the class come in for some CSI work. If you haven't already, make friends with a local florist and get their ideas on how that is done. That's what I did. It's always great to know an Accredited Member of the American Institute of Floral Designers in these situations so I talked briefly with Randy Wooten, AIFD, PFCI and he filled in the blanks.
I had a guess it was basically the same type of arrangement you would use on a casket. Yeah I know, but both types of arrangements are for large flat surfaces with slightly rounded tops, and I was right. He said they most likely use an Oasis product called a Floral Foam Casket Saddle.
From there, Alicia (the brains behind One Less Thing curriculum materials) reminded me that saddles have 2 D-rings on the rear of the saddle. You can use floral wire or zip ties to attach the casket saddle to the rear of the horse. Once you understand the foundation of the project, then it's a matter of looking at a few pictures on butt flowers on horses through Pinterest or Google and seeing what you and your students would like to try.
What I would suggest is that you take an afternoon to figure out these elements for any newly discovered concept: a specialized water analysis, a cleverly welded trailer or equipment attachment, or even a vet science skill. You and your students should always be asking "How did they do that?" Once you have the research and concept mapped out start getting your supplies ready. Then present the project to your students in the same way you received it and have them problem solve the same details just as you did but with your guidance to keep the class moving. They can research online, find comparable examples to use as reference, and rough out the design or flow of the project. What a great way to make your students squirm, whine, and complain that you are actually forcing them to think and learn on their own. The gall, really.
That's what gets me recharged, a challenge and then placing that challenge on the students. Then guiding them through the thought process to understand how to solve the problem. That's what teaching, and specifically Ag teaching, is all about. One final suggestion, don't search Google for "butt flowers" or "butt bouquet". That'll get you a talking to from the administration. Floral Arrangement Backpack Horse or something similar will do.
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