Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflections From a Pre-Service Teacher: "Shop things"


“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” We have heard this quote many times before in regards to teaching and learning. Benjamin Franklin had a point.  As a student that is starting to look at classes and content through the eyes of a teacher, I couldn’t agree more.  Reflect with me for a few moments…


This is a lot different than a vehicle, and the other skid steer I
learned to drive!
The first day of AEE 349, Shop Processes for Agricultural Educators, Dr. Ewing asked us, what we thought the class would be about.  I watched three other roommates take the class so I responded with confidence and a smirk: “shop things.” We all laughed at how generic my response was, but reality hit hard that first day, I knew close to nothing about “shop things.”  The laughter and lack of knowledge about “shop things” was funny in the moment, but I didn’t realize it would bother me in the coming weeks.  The realization that I may have to teach agricultural mechanics processes one day set in, and so did my nerves.  Five weeks into class, they still do.  Every Tuesday and Thursday at 4 pm, I feel this anxiety bubbles up inside me.  Absolutely everything is new to me.  Four stroke engines, hardscapes, circular saws, welding, oxy acetylene… the list goes on and on.  Some of it is a foreign language to me, and I know a foreign language… But this, I might have to teach this. 

When about 4:05 pm hits and we are ready to get our hands dirty disassembling engines in the shop the look on my face must reflect the inner anxiety I feel.  It never fails one of my classmates, the teaching assistant or Dr. Ewing himself notice, ask if I am okay and reassure me that I can do it.  I will learn, and they will take care of me.

One of our units is small gas engines, my partner
and I are in the disassembling process. 
Some days it is easy to walk into class and pretend to know it all, or act like we have it all together.  When we are brave enough to raise our hand and guess, and it’s wrong, sometimes we are encouraged, and sadly other times we are not.   It is easy to say “no, that is not the exact answer I was looking for.”  It takes more thought and care though when a teacher responds with more questions; “Hmm… why do you think that?” Or “what does this part do? So does this make more sense?”    In this class, I can’t and I won’t know it all right away.  The process of learning something new is interesting and exciting, but filled with doubts and unknowns.  I have decided I will ask questions, even the ones with an obvious answer.  I will volunteer to explain how intake, compression, power and exhaust function, mess it up and be corrected so I learn the right process.  I will volunteer to use a circular saw in front of class, to demonstrate safety- but more than that, to step out of my comfort zone and put myself in the shoes of a student.   When I look at this with the eyes of a teacher, I realize I am learning.  I may be surrounded by people that have taken an agricultural mechanics class before, but chances are my future students, will be in my shoes: curious, anxious, interested and maybe a little confused or concerned. 

I hope I don’t forget the anxiety I feel in lab.  It gives me the correct fear and respect for equipment, and it is a feeling my students might have.  I had a false idea that I shouldn’t take classes that I don’t know anything about, maybe because they’re uncomfortable to be in, but isn’t that where true learning happens?  “There is no growth in a comfort zone, and there is no comfort in a growth zone.”  I will keep involving myself in learning about “shop things,” letting myself grow in the process. 


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 teachag@psu.edu. Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog.




Kayla Hack

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @hackkayla

2017 Agriculture Education Student Teacher




1 comment:

  1. Great Post Kayla! You share similar feelings and thoughts that many preservice candidates (and all teachers!) experience when engaging with new content, which happens all the time in Ag!

    Keep doing great things,

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