Friday, May 3, 2013

Milton Hershey Moments--A Reflection about my Student Teaching Experience

On my first day of student-teaching at Milton Hershey, I got the best advice for student-teaching from the High School Principal, Mr. Weber.  He looked at me straight in the eye and said, “This experience will fly by—make sure you make an impression each day so you can look back and see what your students have achieved.”  This statement was indeed true throughout my experience and I’m glad I heard these words of wisdom at such a great time during this internship.  With that thought in mind, I will reflect on some of the most ‘impactful’ moments during my time student-teaching at Milton Hershey. 

The most memorable moment during my student-teaching experience was teaching FFA History and the Creed.  To gain the interest and respect of my Freshmen classes, I created an “FFA Jacket Challenge” that would award an FFA Jacket to the first student that stood up in class and recited the entire FFA Creed perfectly.  This announcement spread like wildlife between the rest of the agriculture students and a network of support emerged for the Freshman students vying for their very own FFA Jacket.  Each day, upperclassmen would come to class and ask, “Did anyone recite the Creed today?”  It was amazing to see how one simple challenge created electricity and hype between all the agriculture classes.  After weeks of practicing, 2 brave students accepted my challenge and earned their very own FFA Jacket.  Word spread quickly that 2 students were successful and the same electricity and buzz were evident again in my classes.  During my final week of student-teaching, I presented each student with their freshly-pressed FFA Jackets and saw their eyes light up as they put on their jacket for the first time.  I look forward to seeing the journey that these two young FFA members will embark on over the next 3 years.

Another impactful moment was participating in the 2013 State Legislative Leadership Conference (SLLC) Community Service Project with the FFA members on the trip.  As we first approached our community service site, I was worried that my students were not going to be 100% engaged in the service project.  However, when groups were assigned given tasks, it was my students that took the lead and jumped right into the tasks and quickly befriended FFA members from other chapters.  Words cannot describe how proud I was of my students as they accepted a challenge, developed a plan of action, and worked together to achieve it.  When I asked students at the end of the conference what their favorite portion of the conference was, they quickly responded with the community service project because they got to help someone else in need.  This response made my heart smile because I knew that these students, through Agriculture Education, would leave the classroom as productive, caring, and hard-working members of the agricultural industry.  This experience truly exemplified the “Living to Serve” segment of the FFA motto and gave members a chance to become involved in a project larger than them.

Finally, I watched as students took pride in their Agriculture Education program and spoke to over 200 8th grade students during the annual 8th-Grade CTE Tour.  Students had been preparing for this event for weeks and when the time came, their hard work and persistence had paid off as they created an engaging environment for students and chaperones alike.  The students received many compliments for their work during the tour and did a phenomenal job of representing Agriculture Education.  It was amazing to see how the students had banded together to take pride in their Agriculture program and promote it to other prospective students.  I have never seen a group of young people speak with such confidence and determination to recruit next year’s Freshman class.  It was an awesome feeling to know that I helped the students achieve such success.

In conclusion, I never realized the difference that one person could make in such a short period of time.  I have seen students come to life and find their ‘niche’ in Agriculture Education.  After watching the above accomplishments, I firmly believe that Agriculture Education has the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of each student enrolled in an Agriculture class.  Whether a student finds a new interest in agriculture or gains confidence in Public Speaking, Ag Education provides numerous avenues to make a difference in a young person’s life.  Through my student-teaching experience, I’ve learned that a little effort on the part of the instructor can go a long way to help a student and give them an incentive to achieve.

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