Wednesday, October 9, 2013

PA FFA Fall Leadership Conference: New experiences for both high school and college students!

FLC, formally known as Fall Leadership Conference was hosted in Blair County, October 1st at a convention center. The purpose of the conference is to teach and reinforce the different duties of FFA officers, as well as jump start new members of the FFA. It also serves the purpose of allowing pre-student teachers at Penn State to gain “real life” experience by teaching the different officer workshops.

Students work on scrapbooks during the "catch all" workshop
Penn State focuses on giving their students experience in the classroom before they student teach in the spring. FLC is the perfect outlet for that experience. This year, the 2014 student teaching cohort split into groups of two or three with one shadow teacher. The shadow teacher is typically a junior in the major that will be presenting at FLC next year.

Student teacher groups consisted of Michael Petrun and Tyler Cremeans completing the President workshop with Jillian Gordon as their shadow teacher. Vice President was taken care of by Mindy Stoops, Meagan Slates, and Jessie Ross, with Laura Metrick as their shadow teacher. The secretary workshop was taught by Brittany Rigg, Caleb Wright and Quinn Cachell with Cassidy Cheddar as their shadow teacher. Kate Livingston and Valerie Laub with Megan Keller as their shadow taught the treasurer workshop. The sentinel workshop was taught by Emily Urban, Jeanne Case and shadow teacher Jena Shaffer. The reporter workshop was taught by Anenette Sprenkel and Casi Foster with Kate Basset as their shadow.  Lastly, was the “catch all” group which included chaplains, parliamentarians, and student advisors. This group was taught by Billy Saylor, Todd McMillian, Allison Hoover and shadow teacher Howard Poole.

Mike said, “at first it was hard to imagine running a two hour workshop, but then time flew by and we didn’t even have enough time to finish all of our activities and wish there would have been more time to fit everything in.” This was Mike’s first FFA conference ever.

Allison Hoover, another pre-student teacher said “it was great to see the cohort teaching styles in actions. By having students in front of us, it was a good reminder on how to be prepared and motivated for real students as opposed to lab.”

Dr. John Ewing said, “FLC is a great opportunity for future teachers at Penn State to interact with current FFA members. I believe that everyone learned a lot as FLC is one of the first teaching opportunities for pre-student teachers.”

After lunch all the pre-students teachers met with Dr. Daniel Foster (@FosterDanielD) and Dr. John Ewing (@jce122)  to talk about the workshops that had gone on in the morning. Topics were discussed such as adaptations that have to be made on the fly, giving the students enough time to process information, and teaching while remaining silent. In addition, critical elements such as enthusiasm, creating energy in the beginning and keeping it, and getting the unmotivated students involved.

Jena Shaffer said “I am really glad that I was asked to be a shadow teacher at FLC this year, because I got to experience what the atmosphere is like and that this conference is all about. I believe that this will be extremely beneficial in preparing a workshop for next year.”

Another 2015 student teacher, Kate Basset said “after being a shadow teacher, I have picked up a few ideas, methods, and strategies that I can implement in my workshop planning for next year”.

Annette Sprenkel said, The level of energy depends on you! If you lose the energy it's really hard to get it back. While you're teaching it’s important to watch your students body language to determine if they need a change. Example: When students start yawning, they need to get up and move around.

Other aspects of the conference included workshops that the State Officers hosted for the new students. Some of the workshops included Official Dress, FFA History, SAEs and Teamwork. There was even a chapter,Williamsport, at the conference that had just been chartered two weeks ago! Austin Shay, Pennsylvania State Sentinel, said, “I believe that the day went great. Students were engaged and excited to learn and meet new people from across the state. Plus this conference is special because you do not have to be an FFA member to attend.”

Matt Reutlinger presents to all the students about WLC
To end the conference, 2015 student teacher, Matthew Reutlinger, hosted a workshop to get students pumped for WLC (Washington Leadership Conference) in the summer. This past summer, Matt spent seven weeks in Washington, D.C. as a facilitator for National FFA. There, he worked with students from across the country to develop a personal plan to become better citizens. This is referred to as a “living to serve plan", as it helps to address problems that students see in their home, local and global community. Matt had a different style than the other presenters as the FFA members had to chant “Let us in, let us in” in order to be let into the room and for the session to start. Matt reflected on the day saying, “It was nice to be able to facilitate again. Connecting with a new generation of students is always a refreshing experience. I think students were caught off guard by my uncommon form of facilitation and that created some difficulties. I do think they were receptive to the process though.” Hopefully there will be some better Pennsylvania representation at WLC this summer after this presentation.

Todd McMillien and Billy Saylor, 2014 student teachers check to see what is wrong

As the life for a teacher never really ends, Penn State students go to apply their knowledge of AEE 297 and AEE 350 on their way home. When the vans stopped for ice cream, a seemingly very popular place for people after FLC, one of the high school vans from an FFA chapter broke down. Dr. Ewing and some of the more mechanic-savy students came to the rescue with a rubber floor mat and a hose clamp. There was problems with the pin hole fittings heater return line. There was also not that much oil in the in the engine as well. All in all it was a good that that got to put multiple Penn State agricultural education classes into real life practice.

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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