Wednesday, June 28, 2017

NAAE Region IV Saves the Best For Last

Great presentation by Officer Michael Matson.  Learned about a great career.  What an inspiration!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Some highlights, fun at UNH!

The morning lecture on Arborculture was informative.  The pitch was basically: arborculture is a great career, many opportunities, and it's become very high tech, using all kinds of interesting electronic technology, like drones, and the tree version of a sonogram.  Most of the jobs involve such skills as finding the value of urban trees, assessing health, and designing remediation, and analyzing trees for potential failure (you know, before they fall down, close roads, and land on wires, causing electric outages).    We learned the difference between looking for a career in forestry and arborculture. The presenter was from Bartlett, and when I find out his name, I'll edit this post. 

The second presentation I attended was about the potential for bee keeping, and how to make lip balm.  The presenters didn't seem to think it was a good way to support ones' self, perhaps just doing it as a hobby, but then again, tell that to the folks at Burt's Bees.  It was a fun activity, and I got to watch the queen (she had a white dot painted on her). 

How to increase membership?

A great discussion on advocacy... what do we need to bring in more members to NJAAE, and NAAE?  I'm the only member in Camden County, how can I get others to join?  How do we brand ourselves, so we can stand out?
Sherisa Nailor lead the discussion about how we promote ourselves, how do we collect data, and showed us a template to report out our information. 

NAAE Greetings

I've been madly in love with NAAE Communities of Practice ever since I was introduced to it about 4 years ago.  So, I'm biased.  But, having been in education all of my life (or so it seems), I've never experienced such a comprehensive and in depth desire to support each other, as the Ag teaching community.  It was great to meet representatives Julie Fritch and Sherisa Nailor.  Each state reported out with the highlights (good/bad/ugly, lol) of their programs.  It's great to hear what initiatives are being proposed an enacted in these other states, and what challenges other states face.  Of course, when given the opportunity, I'll tell a story or two, so I did...
New York talked about needing 80 teachers...
But, Maryland sounds like it is in the process of rebuilding, and doesn't share the same vacancy stress at this time. 

NAEE Region IV... First Night!

Our Sunday night entertainment:  Move over Garrison Keillor, Rebecca Rule, rules the New England story kingdom.  As a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, there are things I didn't know about New England.  First of all, there is a place called Lake Mooselookmeguntic, and New Englanders have a lot of jokes about this place, and the Mooselook Wobbler lure, and old stoves. The New England accent adds value to these jokes, of course! 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NQPS, a discussion at NAAE Region IV Summer Conference

I was privileged to be on board with the field test of the online NQPS (National Quality Program Standards).  So, seeing it up and ready to go today was good news!  I used this with my freshmen, to show them what is expected in the program, and I had them complete the survey (I printed out the pages).  Of course, that would be the day the AP came for the surprise 3rd evaluation of the year!

The explanation of the changes was informative.  As a newbie, I wasn't privy to the old version. The rubric gives suggested evidence.  I hope to have my supervisor work with me on this, so he and I can dialogue about areas of concern, and target areas to focus on for the year. It sounds like this is a good idea. 

Kevin Keith and Karen Hutchinson walked us through the process, and showed us about the various topics covered.  The growth and planning portion is key.  It's one thing to beat yourself up in an evaluation, but getting an advisory committee that is hands on, seems to be key.  Picking 2 or 3 to focus on, is the advice.  They then showed us how to get through the website, and how to interface with the web based evaluation.  They finished up with a summary of best practices. 

NAAE Region VI, musings of a newbee at Summer Conference

Our Sara Cobb, the CASE Online Learning Coordinator got us started Sunday afternoon.  Nice colorful printouts on quality paper!  She got us started by looking at the process of note-taking, how to get students to improve their note-taking skills, and how Inquiry-Based Learning works.  We looked at the first AFNR activity, through the lens of a student.  Long story short, my group will be well dressed in our graves... only 1 of us will eat, and we have no shelter!  Bad if we are Algonquin in the winter.  Sara helped us look at the Purpose more carefully, by having us focus on the words the students should know coming in, and might struggle with due to their complexity of meaning.  She also had us look at reading strategies to get students to focus on materials and actions.  Students don't like to be just handed worksheet packets; so this will be good for me, because I'll have another tool in my toolbox to hold them accountable, and verify they really understand the point of the assignment, as well as how to go forward as a group!  The metacognition activity, ISU Inquiry Workshop Activity 1.1.2 Student Worksheet, is loaded with ways to think about what the teacher and what the students will be doing during the lesson.  A great discussion on how you tie this activity to the community, esp. discussions of hunger.  My inquiry based question? What would my life be like if I had to provide for all of my food, shelter and clothing needs?  Why do I teach CASE?  Glad you asked....

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sharpening the Saw this Summer

Some of us have just started summer break while others might be on the cusp of it starting. As agricultural educators, there sometimes seems to be no end to our tasks, even when summer comes. Maybe there are supervised agricultural experience visits, county fairs, curriculum work, school committees, mandatory training to keep certificates current, and I know the list could go on.

This summer, I challenge all of you to "Sharpen the Saw" as Steven Covey wrote about in his book the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

Maybe you want to sharpen your physical saw by joining the New Jersey FFA Alumni as they honor John and Laurie Neyhart during the June 27th Golf Tournament. Check out EventBrite or Facebook for more info. 

Currently, I'm part of the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Virtual Book Club. We're reading "Start. Right. Now." and this is allowing me to sharpen my mental saw, but also my social/ emotional as I connect with other educators engaged in the discussion over the course of the summer. It's not too late to join the discussion there plus you get professional development hours.

Nearly since its inception, I've participate in #TeachAgChat which also lets me sharpen my saw. If you want to dabble in Twitter, there will be a "Slow Chat" in early July. You can answer any or all of the prompts there are. This chat reflects to some degree on the idea of sharpening the saw.

It can sometimes get easy to sharpen the saw in our professional lives, even in summer and forget that self-renewal comes in other areas as well. Stephen Covey mentions the spiritual saw as well. This could mean getting outside and taking a hike, unearthing some of your art supplies, or engaging in some quiet meditation.

It's up to you to take care of you. I'd love to hear what you're doing this summer as you sharpen your saw.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Building Relationships - Advocacy and Communication

Welcome to our NJAAE Blog!

As President for the next two years, one of my goals is to help increase communication with our members. To kick things off, I am completely stealing a wonderful email that was shared by one of our members, Brian Ducey. Early this year, he shared advocacy and relationship building efforts in his county. Here was his message:

"I was just reflecting with another teacher a few days ago about how fortunate we are here in Monmouth County to have the support we do.  We have consistently seen members from the agricultural and county community support our students in advice, material and financial support. 

I have joined a tradition of cooperation on a county level.  Members of our County Board of Agriculture have invited our students to their annual dinner and we will have members attend their meeting.  They are a great resource for feedback on presentations and speeches as well as the issues facing NJ Agriculture and American Agriculture.  They have supported our students at our county fair with donations of produce that we have in turn been able to sell at out fair to benefit the local chapter.  Our students develop confidence, sales skills, networking and sense of community.

This has also opened other doors to our students, for instance they recently received a FFA Week Proclamation from our Board of Chosen Freeholders.  Additionally, we have students attending and participating in other committees like the Monmouth County Environmental Commission this Wednesday has invited us to a round table discussion on the use of hydroponic growing.

When I say our students I mean students from each of the four FFA Chapters of Monmouth County. I would also add that in keeping with the Team AG Ed Family, Monmouth County has been developing an additional layer to practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities.  I would challenge you to seek more cooperation, communication and collaboration when you can and it may lead to more inspiration for your students."

Post primary election day, he followed up encouraging us to all get involved in relationship building and connecting to our legislators.

Yesterday, was primary day, and in May we spoke about making sure that we reach out to our elected officials.  Here is a tool for locating them pretty quickly and some hot topics that are near and dear to our passions and our students’ passions:

Also, here is a NJDA link to our agricultural community leadership.  The directory will help you locate your board of agriculture and others.  I have also attached a PDF of it.

1) Start building or continue building those relationships, so when times get tough, legislators, decision makers and the community already know who we are in agricultural education and what we contribute to our country's future. 
2) Add a comment on this blog sharing how you advocate.