September 3, 2008

Turning a Teacher’s Aide Into an Agricultural Education Teacher

By O'Byrne, Kim Dormody, Tom

If agricultural education is going to achieve 10,000 quality secondary programs by the year 2015, it will need to recruit and develop many new teachers. These teachers will replace those who will leave the profession and staff the estimated 4,000 new positions that will be added by the 10x15 initiative. Currently, the profession is experiencing a shortage in new agricultural education teachers. To end the shortage and achieve the increase in teachers stimulated by the 10x15 initiative, agricultural educators are challenged to think of new recruitment and development strategies. For New Mexico, we conceptualized the "Agricultural Education Teaching Internship for Juniors and Seniors in High School" as one new tool for recruiting and developing new teachers. Juniors and seniors in high school commonly serve as teacher's aides for a unit of credit toward graduation. Our idea is for agricultural education teachers to identify talented students who have the interest and potential to become quality agricultural education teachers as their aides. In the internship program, their duties are structured and supervised/mentored by their agricultural education teacher to give the interns a comprehensive look at and successful experiences with the role of agricultural education teacher. Interns get real experiences in all three components (classroom and laboratory instruction, FFA, and SAE) and strategies (partnerships, program marketing, professional growth, and community-based program planning) of Local Program Success.

Grading Rubric for College Credit

Upon entering college, the student receives college credit for their internship by submitting a portfolio. Our instructions and grading rubric for interns compiling and university faculty assessing internship portfolios for college credit are:

Juniors or Seniors in high school who have expressed interest in agricultural education teaching as a career can receive New Mexico State University (NMSU) credit for AXED 100 (Introduction to Agricultural and Extension Education-3 credits) and AXED 230 (Early Field-Based Experience-!credit) for interning with their agricultural education teacher(s) while still in high school. To receive credit, they must register for AXED 100 and AXED 230 the fall of their first semester at NMSU. During the year of high school they are interning, students will develop a portfolio based on the Local Program Success model, containing the following tabbed sections and entries:

1. INSTRUCTION: Under the supervision of their supervising teacher, interns will plan and teach at least two 50-minute lessons, and will develop the lesson plans and evaluation tools used for the lessons. Lessons may be selected from the NM Agriculture Curriculum Lesson Plan Library, LifeKnowledge(TM) curriculum, another curriculum used by the supervising teacher, or can be developed by the student following the NM Agriculture Curriculum Lesson Plan Library lesson plan format. (20 points)

2. FFA: Interns will take a leadership role to facilitate the planning and implementation of two major FFA activities. They will provide all planning tools developed (e.g. POA forms, calendars, etc) and utilized for the activities. Examples include facilitating the FFA chapter's participation in a fair, a leadership program, a CDE competition, State FFA Convention, and State FFA Camp. Include details of travel, food, and lodging arrangements, students attending, and any other pertinent information in this section. (20 Points)

3. SAE: Interns will report on at least two SAE visits made with their supervising teacher. Discuss the size, scope and condition of the SAE and the status of the record book in each report. (10 points)

4. PARTNERSHIPS AND COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAM PLANNING: Interns will document interaction with the agricultural education program's partners such as parents; school administrators, counselors, faculty, and staff; the advisory committee; the FFA alumni affiliate; local organizations, agencies, and businesses; etc., by providing agendas, sign-up sheets, or any other documentation of a meeting or event attended. Interns will discuss the role of partners in an agricultural education program with a short, half-page essay. (10 points)

5. MARKETING: Interns will be involved in planning and implementing one activity to market and promote the agricultural education program and/or the FFA chapter to encourage growth or support. Possible activities include coordinating Food for America presentations, developing or updating the program or FFA website, writing and distributing a program or FFA newsletter, making a presentation to the board of education or to parents at an open house, etc. (10 points)

6. PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: Interns will keep a weekly journal of their internship experiences. In this journal, interns will reflect critically upon what they have learned from each internship activity. They will reflect on what makes the role of the agricultural education teacher unique compared to the roles of other teachers. (20 points)

7. SCRAPBOOK: Interns will keep a scrapbook of programs, brochures, photographs, and other records of their participation in the internship program. (10 points)

8. SUPERVISING TEACHER'S EVALUATION: The supervising teacher will use the rubric below (for readers at http://www.nmsu. edu/academics/ axed/high-schoolinternship.html) to evaluate the intern on their professionalism during the internship. (20 points)

Interns will turn in the completed portfolio to the Agricultural and Extension Education Department the first fall semester they attend NMSU and register for AXED 100 and AXED 230. The portfolio can be submitted any time during that semester up to the Monday of Finals Week. A grade will be assigned to the internship based on the points received in the portfolio assignment. The scale used for assigning grades to the portfolio and internship experience for AXED 100 credit is:

117-120pts. A+

111-116pts. A

108-11 Opts. A

105-107 pts. B+

99-104 pts. B

96-98 pts. B-

93-95 pts. C+

87-92 pts. C

84-86 pts. C-

72- 83 pts. D

An intern receiving a C- or better on the above scale will also receive an S (Satisfactory) grade for AXED 230 which is graded S/U at NMSU. If you have any questions about this advanced credit program, please contact the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education at (575) 646-4511.

Benefits of the Program

The "Agricultural Education Teaching Internship for Juniors and Seniors in High School" has multiple winning aspects with no apparent downside. Some of these aspects are:

1. Agricultural education teachers get involved in building the teaching workforce.

2. Rich and meaningful experiences are provided to high school students with the interest and potential to become quality agricultural education teachers.

3. Agricultural education teachers get the satisfaction and experience of mentoring their own students toward a career in teaching agriculture.

4. Agricultural education teachers get more assistance with their program than a regular teacher's aide could provide.

5. Students get a unit toward high school graduation and four credits towards their college education.

6. Partnership links between secondary schools, teachers, students, and university agricultural educators are established when the students are still in high school.

7. The most-motivated students start early on a pathway to become an agricultural education teacher.

8. Students could apply internship experiences toward an advanced FFA degree and/or the Agricultural Education proficiency award.

9. Students enroll in a full load of courses their first semester in college, but in reality only attend four classes because they have already completed the work for four credits.

10. The program is simple to understand and requires little additional paperwork for the agricultural education teacher.

11. Additional costs for the internship should be minimal to non- existent.

Final Notes

Our next step is to work with New Mexico State University's community college campuses to allow for concurrent enrollment credit for these interns as part of our new Associates of Science in Agriculture degree. This will give the students the credits on a college transcript while still in high school...and at the lower community college tuition rate. The Associate's degree transfers seamlessly into our Agricultural and Extension Education major at New Mexico State University.

Although the program is new this year and we're just starting to get teachers interested in piloting it with their students, we anticipate that it will be a success. Other states might be interested in adding such a program as a teacher recruitment and development tool. While we don't anticipate that the program will completely solve the teacher shortage and demand for additional teachers as new agricultural education programs open under the 10x15 initiative, it could make a sizable contribution. Just think, if each current agricultural education teacher identified and worked with one student over the next three years in such an internship, we'd have the potential to add hundreds of new teachers to the workforce with this simple tool, alone! Our idea is for agricultural education teachers to identify talented students who have the interest and potential to become quality agricultural education teachers as their aides.

Kim O'Byrne is a teacher at Mayfield High School, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tom Dormody is Professor and Head of Agricultural and Extension Education at New Mexico State University

Copyright National Council for Agricultural Education May/Jun 2008

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