EFE Tip Sheet
This sheet is a guide for students that are partaking in the Early Field Experience program. We hope by giving you a list of pointers that we can provide a more meaningful experience for you as well as the cooperating educator. Below are 22 tips that will help prepare you for this crucial experience.
Before you choose a school:
- Make sure you have plenty of time in your schedule to visit the school. Try to leave a whole day empty in your class schedule so you can experience a day from start to finish.
- Choose a school that has a good reputation. Don’t be afraid to ask for the opinions of your college academic advisor or your high school Agriculture Educator. They know other programs and can give you more insight.
- Go out of your comfort zone – pick a school you have never been to or a teacher you have never met. You will gain a whole new network to help you in the future. It is in these experiences of navigating the unknown that you will grow as a leader, person, and future educator!
Before you start your EFE:
- Before school starts plan to meet with your cooperating educator to break the ice and discuss what you want to gain from this experience. Tell them any fears or concerns you have about teaching on your own so they can help you once you get inside the classroom.
- While meeting this is a perfect time to map out a schedule of when you are planning on visiting.
- Before school starts take the opportunity to go to a teacher inservice day so you can get a better idea of what your school values and how the school functions as a whole.
- This will also give you time to meet other teachers in the school who can be useful resources.
- You will also have the chance to take a tour of the school before it is filled with students – get to know it well, you will be spending a lot of time here!
While in the classroom:
- Find out what process your teacher uses to plan the courses for the year. Find what state competencies are aligned to each course. Also find out what order the teacher plans to complete the competencies.
- Don’t be afraid to engage with the students. Ask them what they like about the Agriscience Classroom. See what qualities they like in a teacher but also ask what qualities they do not like a teacher to possess. Your students know the best method for their individualized learning.
- Ask about what SAE’s they take part in and what CDE’s they like to participate in.
- Ask the students what they like and dislike about their ag program. You can get some valuable feedback to use in your classroom.
- Ask about their experiences thus far in FFA – they might complain. Use these as learning experiences from the students’ point of view for your own future program.
- Ask for the lessons that your teacher has planned for the day ahead of time. This way you can help them teach the lesson or help the students when they are struggling. You can also find out how the teachers prepare their lessons.
- Ask your cooperating educator if it’s possible for you to facilitate a lesson or two. You will get practice preparing and presenting a lesson with a way to get real time and truthful feedback.
- Leadership lessons are not hard to complete and can fit into whatever the students are already doing in class.
- If your teacher has a different teaching style than what you are accustomed to, try implementing their style into your lessons. This is a perfect environment to try new things and your students might respond better to familiarity.
- Ask your cooperating educator if you can take a day to shadow other teachers at the school. By observing other teachers you will get a better understanding of different teaching styles. You can then incorporate these styles into your lessons and you will get the chance to see what the students are doing in other classrooms.
- Get your hands on any materials that the teacher is willing to give you. If you do get materials from your teacher, organize them in a place where you can easily access them in the future. In this profession it is important that you communicate with other teachers to see what is working for them.
- Ask for “first day of school” lessons. They are often fun, engaging, and get the students pumped up about the upcoming year.
- Ask for sample shop projects. Many teachers have a small woodworking project outline that they use for first-timers in the shop. These are easy to hang on to and replicate, and they often incorporate many machines and skills in the shop.
- Ask for CDE preparation materials, especially if you are unfamiliar with the contest.
- It is important that at the end of the day you reflect. Always ask why the teacher did a lesson a certain way because this will give you future insight on factors to think about when preparing lesson plans.
- This is where your journal comes in handy. You can keep it to reread and implement ideas in your future classroom.
- Ask about how the teacher manages their finances for class and also the chapter.
- Have fun while you are at the school. Your EFE is a unique experience that helps you really see a classroom. Don’t stress out over the assignments that you have to complete for the class. Use this to your advantage when interacting with the administration at the school.
After School Activities:
- Go to at least one outside of school activity. See if there are any district meetings or events that you can go to with your cooperating educator. This activity could be a CDE, the county fair, convention, meetings, or any conferences the school participates in. It is important to see what the chapter does outside of the classroom and further build these relationships with your cooperating educator and students.
- Go to an FFA officer meeting to see how your role as an educator would look. You might find a different way of running those meetings than your home school once did.
- Ask your cooperating educator if you can help out with their fruit sale. This can include: compiling numbers for what to order, organizing fruit when it is delivered, or helping students pack up their fruit. Fruit sales are the most important fundraiser for most Ohio FFA Chapters. This is where you will make most of your money and you want to have a successful first year of fruit sales.
- See what brand they go with.
- See what products/fruits sell best. This can vary between chapters but it’s important to see what they purchase more of.
- What products do they sell? There are more items than just fruit.
- Nuts, barbecue sauce, meats, and cheese are other common products sold. Some chapters even sell fruit baskets or make an individual product that no one else sells.
- Some schools use an online program to track and organize their fruit sales. Look into this, you might adopt it for your own fruit sale.
- Ask your cooperating educator about how they plan and run their State and National FFA Convention trips. This is important when you start in a school and begin planning your own.
- Ask how your cooperating educator plans and runs their chapter banquet. This can be a stressful event when you are going in blind. If they happen to be located in the same geographical area that you get the opportunity to teach in, you can use some of the same resources that they do.
- Never feel like you are an inconvenience to the teacher because they invited you into their school. They know what takes place during an early field experience and how much extra work is required from them. The teacher wants you to have an amazing experience that will help transform you into a better teacher.
- Never be afraid to ask your teacher a question. They went through the EFE as an undergraduate student and they know how nerve wracking it be. They are there to help you.
- Remember to thank your cooperating educator. They are going to do a lot for you and they will be a valuable resource for you in the future.
- Get out of your comfort zone. You will be doing this a lot once you begin teaching and it’s good to start practicing that now. Enjoy yourself!
For the Struggling Pre-Early Field Experience Student
Are you or someone you know beginning your Early Field Experience soon? Everyone does it – it’s a requirement to graduate with a degree in Education. However, there are many, MANY things that you should know about the Early Field Experience. Stay tuned for some solid advice, methodical planning skills, and some general survival tips for the EFE.
Choosing a School:
Before you pick a school for your Early Field Experience, I suggest two things: 1. Pick a school that you don’t know the teacher or students, and 2. Pick a school that is unlike the one you graduated from. You will gain a whole new network to help you in the future. It is in these experiences of navigating the unknown that you will grow as a leader, person, and future educator. While you’re at it, clear out your schedule because you’ll need to spend a lot of time at your EFE school. Try to leave one day empty from your weekly class schedule so you can get the most out of your experience.
Breaking the Ice:
Do the uncomfortable and make the phone call to your cooperating educator, they’re actually pretty cool. Discuss plans to set up a meeting time and place; be it the county fair, the local diner, or a teacher inservice day before school starts. At this meeting, map out a schedule for your visits throughout the semester. Vocalize any fears or concerns that you have regarding the upcoming school year. Ask to visit the school and familiarize yourself with the classroom – you will be spending a lot of time here and it will look a lot different filled with students!
Call Me Miss/Mr. ______
In the classroom is where the magic happens. Your best tool is your cooperating educator, and now that it’s no longer awkward, you can focus on being a sponge and soaking up all the knowledge. Ask them how they plan their lessons, where they get their resources, and about pacing, competencies, state guided tests, sub plans, shop project ideas, bus requests, managing finances, registering for CDE contests…. the list goes on! Also, engage with the students. Find out what makes them tick, what they like and dislike in an educator, ask about their Supervised Agricultural Experiences, what Career Development Events they participate in, and what their favorite thing about their FFA Chapter is. Students are brutally honest, but these can be the best learning experiences to shape your future program.
Outside the Classroom:
Ag teachers do much more than traditional classroom-style teaching, meaning many more opportunities for you to learn! Fruit sales are a major fundraiser for most FFA Chapters in Ohio and each school runs their differently. Learn new strategies, online organizational programs, and how to motivate your students. Attend CDE competitions and learn what it’s like to be called “Coach.” Get your first dose of chaperoning by traveling to National FFA Convention. Help the students plan and execute their Chapter Banquet. Join their community service events. The opportunities are endless!
And Don’t Forget…
Don’t ever feel like an inconvenience to your cooperating educator – they invited you to their school and they want you to succeed! Make sure to ask about everything, take and hoard every resource you can, and make sure you thank them! Your cooperating educator will be one of your most valuable resources once you enter your own classroom. Next, get outside your comfort zone. You will be doing this a lot once you begin teaching and it’s good to start practicing that now. Finally, enjoy yourself! The Early Field Experience is designed for preservice teachers to decide if teaching is really what they want to do. So smile, relax, and good luck, teach! You’ll do great.