Monday, July 22, 2013

PAAE Summer Conference - Student Teacher Style

[Editor's Note: Every year, we conduct an orientation for cooperating teachers, university supervisors, and teacher candidates to ensure that everyone is on the same page for the upcoming year/internship. We purposefully conduct this at the summer conference of the agricultural teachers association to introduce students to the professional organization. Below is the perspective of one 2014 teacher candidate, Ms. Jeanne Case, who will be student teacher at Dover High School. Follow the adventures of this student teaching group on Twitter at #psuaged14]

A couple weeks ago I attended the Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators (PAAE) conference in Manheim, PA. Since I am interning with the PA Farm Bureau this summer and am living in Harrisburg I was a simple 45 minutes away from the conference – or so I thought. As per typical Jeanne, I got lost and was late despite giving myself an extra 15 minutes when I left home. Thankfully one of my peers, in my student teaching cohort, Mr. Billy Saylor, called me and gave me directions and I did not miss that much of the conference.

My peers and I started the conference meeting with our student teacher mentors and talked about what the perfect student teaching experience would look like. Ideas were thrown around, such as our individual experiences with different aspects of FFA – ACES, SLLC, chapter meetings, CDE’s, etc. We also thought it would be good to go to department meetings, meet with the principal and other teachers in the building, as well as attend a school board meeting. Respect of the students, teachers, and each other was also an important subject. Some people seem to think that the student teachers have to be in competition with each other since we are graduating at the same time and looking for jobs. This year we are striving to work together, to really help each other out, to work as a family and a team. We should be building each other up rather than breaking the group down.  Drama is not an option in our cohort.

After we met with the teachers and Dr. Foster and Dr. Ewing, we split off for some focused instruction for teacher candidates with leaders of the program and recent graduates like Ms. Laura Rice, Ms. Mackenzie McCollum and Mr. Doug Masser. They tried to calm our fears of the upcoming semesters. They also stressed how it is important to dress tastefully because we may have the opportunity to meet important people and it is important to present yourself well because everything is an interview. We went over appropriate clothing for different events.  Dr. Foster is not the best at expressing what girls should be wearing –" uh, nice pants and a shirt" - is not a detailed enough answer for a girl.  Ms. Rice and Mackenzie were really helpful. The individuals running this session also stressed that if we keep up with our work, rather than waiting until the end of the semester, that student teaching really is manageable and will not “kill us”.

Student teacher, Billy Saylor, with the winery grapes
We also received our own teacher " big idea"  books to keep track of any ideas that we may want to use later or things that we will want to look up to implement in the classroom.
Following lunch we split into different groups and went to a session that was hosted by teachers from across the state. I went to an electrical lesson where three different teachers shared how they teach electrical wiring in their class. All of them did it completely different but it still got the same point across.Students learn things differently and it was nice to see different ways to teach the same subject. It will be important to keep that in mind during our teaching career as some techniques may work with some students and not with others – it is good to keep an open mind and be willing to change your teaching style to help a student learn.  Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

As PAAE is an agricultural conference we. of course, have to support ALL aspects of the agricultural industry so we went on an industry tour of a local winery. We toured the farm then got to learn how they process the grapes on the farm and make their product. We even got to sample that product with a little swirl, smell and sip. To bring out the different flavors there were local cheeses and crackers provided as different foods change the taste palate of your mouth and create a different experience.

Student teachers listening to a presentation about the wine industry in PA
To end the evening we had dinner at a local auction barn and played Minute to Win it. Teams were made up of teachers and student teachers alike as we battled to win. It was a good bonding experience for all involved, the participants and spectators alike. Lots of the games were quite silly and it got everyone out of their shells, mingling and forming connections, which is what conferences and networking events are all about. Here are a few example videos of competition in action!!

Dr. John Ewing in the infamous "Pencil Snatch". Mad Skills

Mr. Herb Hoffeditz puts his nose in it!

Our Teacher Educators Team Up. Dr. John Ewing & Dr. Daniel Foster

2014 Student Teachers Billy Saylor and Caleb Wright Exhibit Team Work!

The second day of the conference and the last day for the student teachers had us attending more workshops to learn of opportunities that we can provide to our future students such as certifications, dual enrollment and tests to prove that our students are learning adequately, to name a few.

We were also able to listen to issues happening in the state, such as state days and other events. There was time to network with different teachers from across the state and make connections and friendships. I even met a woman whom I had talked to previously via email and facebook that is an alumni of the Greek organization I am involved with. It turns out that she was in the house the same time as my mom and that she and my mom actually worked together in the pasture research lab sorting different types of weeds. My mom even went to her wedding and took wedding photos for her. I love to network and make connections and I also love to meet alumni as they just seem to pop up out of nowhere and provide excellent resources. I also met another man who is actually the father of my student teacher mentor; I had talked to him on the phone last fall to interview him for a project in one of my AEE classes. It was very nice to be able to put faces to names.

We, the student teachers, ended our portion of the conference with a meeting to discuss why it was important that we were there and the importance of professional organizations. Agriculture is such a small industry while being so large.  It is important to help each other out and share ideas, as it helps the industry to constantly grow in the forward direction.  On behalf of this spring’s student teachers I know that we were very appreciative of the opportunity to attend the conference, to make friends and to learn a lot about the profession that we are about to enter. It was a great jump start to the fall semester!

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog

Jeanne Case
Student Blogger
2014 Dover HS Student Teacher
Twitter: JRose_Case

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