Diary of Kellie Warner- Ag Teacher & FFA Advisor

Diary of Kellie Warner- Week 1, Jan 31-Feb 6, 2011

Monday, January 31

“Do you think we’ll have school tomorrow?”  I’m always bombarded by questions throughout the school day, and today was no different.  It seems like every single student asked me that question today!  And for good reason….freezing rain, sleet, and snow are in the forecast for the next couple of days.  We have a lot to accomplish at school this week, so I am hopeful that the forecast is wrong!Today was an exciting day for students in my freshman Ag Science classes, as today they got to check out the rabbits that they will have the opportunity to care for over the next two months.  The New Zealand rabbits arrived on Saturday and have been settling into their new home for the past couple of days.  They are on loan from a local breeder, Di Schroeder.   One of the state standards that is to be taught in Ag Science is:Describe the fundamental care and management practices for animals; select, handle, mark and manage environmental conditions; and provide general care for a limited number of animals or animal species.I have chosen to meet this objective by providing my students the chance to care for rabbits on a daily basis.  Each student is assigned to care for the rabbits once per week, including cleaning the cage, feeding, watering, brushing, exercising, and handling.  We also use the rabbits to provide a context in the classroom when learning about animal identification methods, breeding and reproduction, genetics, and animal welfare-related issues.  While some of my students have animals (that serve an agricultural purpose) at home that they care for on a daily basis, many of my students do not have that opportunity.  Having animals that students can interact with in the classroom helps the learning “come to life” for those who have not had this experience at home.

Tuesday, February 1

Every student and teacher in Butler Co. had their wish granted today – NO SCHOOL!  Snow days completely mess up all of the careful planning that I have done for classroom instruction, as well as after-school FFA meetings and activities.  However, they are certainly a blessing, as days that were originally full of appointments, deadlines, meetings, etc. turn into days of peace that allow me to accomplish so much!  Today I spent a great deal of time grading students’ record books.  In these books students record information such as income and expenses for projects they may have at home, records of community service hours, and lists of their personal assets.  A state standard for all Agricultural Education students is:Maintain financial records, and interpret and analyze financial statements.I value this standard because understanding and maintaining financial records will be so important to my students’ future success in both their personal and professional lives.  I think I learned the value of accurate financial records growing up, as many evenings after supper my mother would disappear into the office where she organized, documented, and analyzed financial records for the family farm.  Despite my appreciation for this skill, I have to ask you…have you ever tried to teach a 15-year old how to complete a net worth statement?  Or have you ever tried to convince an 18-year old that their cell phone is not as valuable today as it was when they bought it?  Teaching this standard is one of my greatest challenges in the classroom, but I am convinced that it is also one of the most important! 

Wednesday, February 2

Our school is closed once again today.  I accomplished a great deal yesterday, which did leave me with some time to enjoy today.  I chose to read a book, as reading is one of the ways that I relax… no decisions to make, no questions to answer, no thinking.  I can only handle so much of that, though, and by late morning I was ready to get some work done!  Growing up on a farm instilled in me a work ethic that is so strong, that at times I even feel guilty when I’m not working.  This work ethic is something that I see in many of my students, and it certainly sets them apart from their peers.  I truly believe that non-farm students can have a strong work ethic, and they often do.  But, it’s very rare for one of my farm kids to not be hard-working, honest, and reliable.  They’re so enjoyable to be around!I went into school again to care for the rabbits as I did yesterday.  Today I discovered that one of the rabbits had pushed the nipple of his water bottle outside of his cage where he could not reach it.  This will be a lesson that I share with my students later this week.  Animals sometimes do things unintentionally that can end up being very detrimental to their well-being.  Thus, those of us who are responsible for them MUST provide consistent and thorough care for them.  Growing up, nothing got me or my brothers in more trouble than when we slacked on the care of our animals.  Just like my father who taught me to care for animals, my goal as a teacher is that all of my students will provide consistent and thorough care to not only our animals at school, but also to their animals at home.

Thursday, February 3

oday was a day of odds and ends….finishing up class projects so that we can move onto something new, getting paperwork done for our upcoming FFA trips and activities, and helping students finish their FFA officer books for a district evaluation next week.   Somehow, I managed to not have any after-school meetings or activities, which makes today a rarity.   Days like these give me a chance to look beyond the next couple of weeks at what’s coming down the road.  I spent time preparing for activities such as the FFA banquet in April, the Washington Leadership Conference in June, and the summer professional development program for Ohio’s Ag teachers called HOT Conference.  I am constantly thankful for my organizational skills, as I do not think it’s possible to be an Ag teacher without being extremely organized!

Friday, February 4

My dad has always been a role model for me.  As a farmer, he will go months without a “day off,” as vacation days and sick days do not exist on a farm.  It takes something monumental to keep him from the farm.  In fact, as the story goes, when I was born long ago on an October afternoon, he asked my mother for permission to head back to the field that he was harvesting only a couple of hours after I was born.  She granted him permission and he headed back to work!  I believe that watching my father as I grew up is what has led me to days like today – days when I am sick and know that I should stay home, but I go to work anyway.   Being sick made for a long day.  I am lucky to have great students, though, who are respectful and cooperative, especially when I ask them to be.After school today I had a meeting with the officers of the FFA chapter.  These students are amazing – they dedicate countless hours throughout the year to making the FFA chapter and surrounding community better.   They meet twice each month to discuss chapter business, evaluate progress, and divide up tasks that need taken care of.  After the business was finished today, we discussed what the true meaning of a “leadership experience” is, and reflected on their experiences as leaders over the past 9 months.  We had some “Ah-ha” moments!  We also had a public speaking practice in preparation for their FFA banquet.   “Soft” skills such as leadership and public speaking are overlooked tremendously in today’s educational system.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to help develop these skills in the future leaders of our agriculture industry.   Especially in our current society, where there is a huge disconnect between the agriculture industry and the general public, I believe that these skills can make a difference. I worked at school until about 6:00pm, then continued to work at home until about 12:30am.  I had to bring my work home in boxes because it didn’t fit in my school bag.  I have my work cut out for me this weekend!

Saturday, February 5

I spent today chopping away at my To Do List, enjoying the list getting smaller and smaller!  I went to school to care for the rabbits.  I also met a student at school to work on his State FFA Degree.  Students can earn 4 degrees in the FFA, with the State Degree being the third.  In order to obtain this degree, students must maintain successful entrepreneurial projects, such as raising animals or crops, or they must commit to working at least 1,000 hours at an agricultural business.  In addition, students must participate in a variety of leadership and community service activities, and maintain a high attendance rate and GPA at school.  It is always a pleasure to work with students who want to earn this degree, and today was no different.  I reviewed with the student some changes that needed to be made in his record books, which he will make tonight so that I can review his records again tomorrow.  His application for the degree, and his record books, will undergo two evaluations later this week.  The rest of the day has been spent reviewing officer books that students have submitted and making suggestions for improvements before their evaluation later this week.   I have also created a “plan” for students who would like to earn their State Degree in the future, outlining exactly what they will need to do to meet the minimum qualifications.  It is now 7:00pm….I think I’ve gotten enough work done that I can enjoy the rest of the evening.

Sunday, February 6

Sunday is always a day of preparation and anticipation for the week of school that lies ahead.  Today was a fairly typical Sunday in that I spent the afternoon and evening getting ready for the week.  Preparations included grading quizzes, record books, and essays that were turned in by students last week, as well as sending emails and filling out paperwork that I must complete.  I picked up the record books that my student corrected yesterday and continued to work on his degree application.  I would like to say that everything is ready to go, but unfortunately we will still be making some last-minute corrections to his record books tomorrow.   The week ahead will include a day of staff inservice meetings, two FFA evaluation meetings, a meeting with my Supervisor, two FFA committee meetings, and one FFA event.  There will be plenty to keep me busy!

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