These boots are made for teaching
Agricultural education boot camp transforms students into teachers
Rob Terry, associate professor of agricultural education and director of student teaching, said boot camp is a nickname given to the block of classes the students are required to take before heading out into the field.
“Maybe this is kind of like boot camp because the next step is going to battle,” he said. “We try to get them as ready as possible with what we do here.”
What they do is teach the students in a wide range of areas, including teaching methods and technical agriculture.
The students start bright and early at 7:30 a.m. and go until 4 p.m. every day.
Bill Weeks, associate professor of agricultural education, said the idea is to put them into a real-life teaching situation.
“In a teaching situation, you are probably going to arrive at school at 7:30, and then at 4, you start getting ready for the next day,” he said.
“So we want to put them into a situation much like they’ll be in with student teaching.”
Tommy Hutson, agricultural education student teacher at Pawnee, said it has to be done.
“It makes for a long day, 7:30 to 4 every day, but that’s what you’ve got to do to get what you need in four weeks, and I really don’t have any complaints with it,” he said.
is going to battle. We try to get them as ready
as possible with what we do here.
--Rob Terry, student teacher supervisor
The 7:30 a.m. class, taught by Terry and other members of the faculty, is called AGED 4103: Methods of Teaching Agricultural Education. Students spend 50 minutes each morning learning a new teaching method.
Methods include: problem-solving, cooperative learning, simulation, demonstration and case study.
Hutson said the professors want the students to use the methods they learn in class.
“They gave us a lot of teaching styles to use out in the field,” he said. “They want us to incorporate a lot of those methods into our classes.”
“We try to get them to use methods which we think will make them more effective as teachers,” Terry said.
AGED 4103 also includes a three-hour lab devoted to teaching, where the students will give lessons using techniques learned in class.
“They have to prepare a 50-minute lesson, have it fully planned out, and have visual aids and handouts together,” Terry said.
“The other students in the class role-play at being whatever level of class that’s being taught, whether it be a Natural Resources class or an Ag Science class.”
Terry said the main idea is to prepare them for teaching.
assists his students on a welding project
in the school's mechanics shop.
(Photo by Traci O'Hara)
Along with AGED 4103, a three-hour experimental class devoted to technical agriculture (AGED 4990) is taught.
Weeks calls the class “Last Gasp,” which is a suitable nickname for the class because right before students go out into the field, they seem to be gasping for technical agriculture materials they need to teach.
“Right before they get out, they’re really interested in learning a lot of technical agriculture because they have to teach it,” Weeks said.
“It’s what educators call the ‘teachable moment.’ When they are really interested in learning a lot of technical agriculture, then we’re going to give them this last gasp. When they reach that ‘teachable moment,’ we’re going to throw a little technical agriculture their way,” he said.
In the past, students were taught a select few areas in technical agriculture through short courses, while other areas got nothing, Weeks said.
The students then had to worry about tests in those courses.
“One thing we saw happening was at the time when we were trying to get them ready to student teach, they were worried about a test they were having in surveying or swine production, and we wanted them to mentally devote those first four weeks to just teaching,” he said.
“The idea came about to expand technical agriculture to many different areas that the students need to be familiar with, and that is where AGED 4990 came into play,” Weeks said.
“We’ve asked experts in technical agriculture areas to come in and talk to our students about what secondary teachers should teach high school students about that area and how it should be taught,” Terry said.
Faculty and staff from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at OSU, as well as program specialists from the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education in Stillwater presented technical agriculture topics in the fall semester.
Tommy Hutson instructs his students on safety practices
in the mechanics shop at Pawnee.
(Photo by Traci O’Hara)
Overall, 16 areas of technical agriculture were taught, including agricultural issues, agricultural literacy, aquaculture, beef production, best practices, equine science, FFA computer applications, FFA update, food science, horticulture, photography, résumés/press releases, science applications, sheep production, soil science and swine production. The first evaluation of the class showed that swine production, FFA update, résumés/press releases, best practices and FFA computer applications were the most popular.
In addition to ranking, the students were asked whether or not to keep the classes, and only one of the 16 sessions received a low score.
“All the people who came in and did the labs were on a volunteer basis, and they were trying to give us things they felt we could use,” Hutson said. “I think it really got to jogging our memories and made us think about what we need to brush up on.”
AGED 4103 and AGED 4990 come together in a block to give students a broad experience base and to prepare them as thoroughly as possible for student teaching.
“My feeling is that it’s kind of the last thing we have to do to get them ready to student teach,” Terry said.
“I think the work habits of having to prepare lessons, having to get up early in the morning and stay up late for this class gets them in the correct mode of thinking, the correct attitude for student teaching,” he said.
Hutson said, “There were times when we felt overwhelmed, but that’s just part of the block.”
“So far, I’m pleased,” Weeks said. “The biggest thing we saw from them was just a total concentration on teaching, and that’s what we hoped for.”
For more information about this or other programs, please contact the department of agricultural education, communications, and 4-H youth development at (405) 744-5129.
By Traci O’Hara