Supervised Agricultural Experience - Is SAE a Priority in Your Program?

Article excerpt

Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) is only important to your students if it is important to you the teacher! How you represent SAE in the classroom; reward students for their participation in SAE; and involve parents, administrators, and the community with SAE indicates your commitment to an active, relevant SAE component of the total agricultural education model. Do you remember the national model for agricultural education? It is the three overlapping circles that represent the classroom, FFA and SAE components of a local agriculture program. Before you read any further, complete the following exercise. Draw the three part model as it relates to your own agriculture program. Do all three circles exist? Do they all overlap or do some stand alone with no relationship to the others? Are they all the same size or does one component overwhelm the other two? If you are missing a circle, have one that exists off to the side by itself, or is smaller than the other two; it is probably the SAE component.

The following 20 questions can help you determine your commitment to SAE and consequently how important SAE is to your students. Honestly answer "yes" or "no" to each question, total the "yes" responses, and evaluate how to change the "no" responses.

The first set of questions will tell you whether you are putting into action the belief that SAE should be included in agricultural education. Do you think SAE is currently an important part of your total agricultural education program? Do all of your FFA members have an SAE? Do you encourage your agricultural education students who are not FFA members to conduct an SAE? Are you introducing the concepts of SAE sometime during the year through your classroom and if so, when? If your school allows, do students receive additional credit for the outside-of-class learning through SAE? Have you used the SAE unit lessons that are available? Talbert, Vaughn, Croom, and Lee (2007) described SAE as the outsideof-classroom application, experiential, career preparation component of the agricultural education model. Phipps, Osborne, Dyer, and Ball (2008) emphasized that SAE should be a program that spans the entire time a student is in agricultural education, rather than just a project that is completed within one year.

To show your students the importance of SAE, you need to teach its concepts; display pictures, awards, and posters about it; and give students examples of innovative programs they could do. Keep something displayed in your classroom at all times that relates to SAE. Proficiency award plaques or banners from previous winners, pictures of current students working in their SAE or posters on the walls and bulletin boards remind students on a daily basis that SAE is a part of their agricultural program. To help you, there are teaching resources available through your state or other curriculum centers to teach SAE to your students. SAE should be introduced to your introductory students in the fall or winter depending on when students in your community would typically begin an SAE program. AU other agricultural education courses should include SAE lessons that build upon the basic concepts in the introductory course and expand students' skills and opportunities.

The next set of questions is designed to make you think about the supervision aspect of SAE. For beginning teachers, have you completed an SAE visit since you started teaching? Are you visiting each student at their work placement or home at least twice a year? Are you comfortable in knowing how to conduct SAE visits and know that your SAE visits are worthwhile? Does your current length of contract allow you to supervise students in the summer? Are you satisfied with the materials your students use to keep SAE records? For students to receive optimal learning from an SAE, they must receive supervision from the agriculture teacher (Phipps et al., 2008; Talbert et al., 2007). For supervision to be successful each visit must be planned and have a purpose. …