Citation
Career Experiences of Novice Urban Agriculture Teachers

Material Information

Title:
Career Experiences of Novice Urban Agriculture Teachers
Creator:
WARNER, WENDY JACKLYN
Copyright Date:
2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural education ( jstor )
Agriculture ( jstor )
High school students ( jstor )
High schools ( jstor )
Preservice teachers ( jstor )
Rural schools ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Urban schools ( jstor )
City of Orlando ( local )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Wendy Jacklyn Warner. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Embargo Date:
8/31/2006
Resource Identifier:
649814556 ( OCLC )

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Full Text











CAREER EXPERIENCES OF NOVICE URBAN AGRICULTURE TEACHERS


By

WENDY JACKLYN WARNER
















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006
































Copyright 2006

by

Wendy Jacklyn Warner



































To my parents, Ron and Brenda Warner
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The completion of my j ourney through graduate school would not have been

possible without the support and encouragement of many incredible people. First I would

like to recognize my advisor, Dr. Shannon Washburn, who was always available to offer

feedback, encouragement, and on occasion, a box of Kleenex. I truly appreciate his

confidence in my abilities and commitment to my success. I am extremely grateful to the

members of my committee, Dr. Linda Behar-Horenstein, Dr. Jim Dyer, Dr. Tracy Irani,

and Dr. Ed Osborne. All of these individuals were not only outstanding teachers, but also

excellent mentors. In addition to the members of my committee, I would like to thank the

faculty and staff in the Agricultural Education and Communication Department and Dr.

Mirka Koro-Ljunberg for sharing her qualitative expertise. In my early years of school,

several teachers made a positive impact on my life. For this, I thank Mrs. Cramer, Mrs.

Butts, and Mr. Diley.

While I am excited to begin a new career, I am sad to leave all the wonderful

friends that I have made while in Gainesville. I have many fond memories from the

countless hours spent in 310 Rolfs Hall and at Dave's house. Thank you to Steve Rocca,

Shannon Arnold, Ann De Lay, David and Jennifer Jones, Travis and Lacy Park, Emily

Rhoades, Nick Fuhrman, Curt Freidel, Eric and Shevon Kaufman, Courtney Meyers, Kris

Ricketts, Amanda Ruth, and all the other graduate students I have been privileged enough

to get to know over the last three years. Also, thank you to my favorite grad school










roommate, Tania Flood, and her husband, Sam, and to Bridge Thapa for his endless

advice.

I probably would not have made the decision to begin this journey without the

rewarding teaching experience I had while at Corner Lake Middle School and Robert

Hungerford Preparatory High School. During my five years in the classroom, I had the

opportunity to learn from many talented teachers: Calvin Dillon, Meg Deering, Tracy

Ebert, Dean McCallum, Stephanie Shelley, Gail Sherman, Dev Kenney, and Tim

Vansant. I was also fortunate to have the support of my agriculture teacher network:

Susan Kelly, Neasa Kalme, John Cloran, Stacey Redditt, Samantha Dodge, Kim Acton,

Tonya Fitzgerald, Mark Mealo, Rick Stotler, and many other agriculture teachers from

around the state. However, my teaching career would not have been nearly as worthwhile

without all of my awesome students. My kids were truly the best teachers of all and they

made a lasting impression on my life.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to my family. I thank my uncle, Joe Yager, for

providing me with a place to stay while on my interview trips to Orlando. I thank my big

sister, Andrea Warner, for making me laugh with her funny phone calls. I thank my

grandparents, Ray and Maxine Warner, for taking an interest in my academic pursuits. I

thank my parents, Ron and Brenda Warner, for their continual encouragement and

unconditional love. I feel truly blessed to have such caring parents, who have always

supported me whether it meant sitting through hours of dance recitals, helping with my

4-H and FFA proj ects, or moving me across the country.

Finally, this dissertation would not have been a reality without my nine

participants. Thank you for sharing your stories.




















TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv


LIST OF FIGURES .............. .................... ix


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........x


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......


Benefits of Including Agricultural Education in Urban Schools ................. ...............2
Challenges to the Inclusion of Agricultural Education in Urban Schools ................... .4
Statement of the Problem. ................. ... ......... ......... ........ ...........
Statement of Purpose and Exploratory Questions Guiding Study ............... .... ........._..6
Definition of Term s .............. ........ ........ ............
Limitations and Assumptions of the Study ........._.._.. ....._.. ......__. ..........

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ........._.._.. ...._... ....._.. ...........


Context of Urban Schools............... ...............8.
Preferred Teaching Location ................... ......... ... ...............11......
Preservice Teachers' Perceptions of Urban Schools .............. .....................1
Beliefs about Students ................. ...............13....__. .....
Beliefs about Parents ................. ...............13....... .....
Beliefs about Urban Teachers .............. ...............14....
Beliefs about Urban School Context ....._._._ ............ ......_. ..........1
Beliefs about Cultural Diversity ......................._._._ ........... ............1
Influence of Preservice Teachers' Experiences in Urban Schools ................... ..........16
Decision to Teach .............. ....... ...... ...............2
Decision to Teach in an Urban School. ............. ...............23.....
Decision to Teach Agricultural Education. ............. ...............24.....
Decision to Continue Teaching .............. ....... ..... ..... ........2
Decision to Continue Teaching Agricultural Education. ............. ...................26
Decision to Continue Teaching in an Urban School. ............. .....................2
Chapter Summary .............. ...............28....












3 RE SEARCH DE SIGN AND MET HOD S ................. ...............3.. 1............


Researcher Subj activity ................. ........... ...............31......
Epistemology and Theoretical Perspective............... ..............3
Qualitative Measures of Validity and Reliability ................ ................ ........ .37
Participant Selection ................ ...............38.................
Data Collection .............. ...............38....
Data Analysis............... ...............40
Chapter Summary .............. ...............41....

4 RE SULT S .............. ...............42....


Description of Participants .............. ...............42....
M s. Brown .............. ...............43....
M s. Campbell .............. ...............43....
M s. Carter ................. ...............43........_......
M r. H ill .............. ...............44....
M s. Fritz .............. ...............44....
M s. Taylor .............. ...............45....
M r. FI ood ........._... ...... ._ ._ ...............45....
M r. G all .............. ...............45....
M r. Linder................ .. .. .. .. .................4
Teachers' Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education............_.__ ............._._ .........46
Teachers' Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education in Urban Schools ..................51
Teachers' Experiences while Teaching in Urban Schools .............. ... .................6
Agriculture Teachers' Outlooks on their Teaching Tenures in Urban Schools..........83
Influences on Decision to Continue Teaching at Current School ............... .... ...........84
Grounded Theory ....._._................. ...............86.......

5 DI SCUS SSION ................. ...............90................


K ey Findings.............. .. ... ... ....... ...............9
Teachers' Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education ................. ... .....................91
Teachers' Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education in an Urban School ...............95
Teachers' Experiences while Teaching in an Urban School .................... ................104
Agriculture Teachers' Outlook on Their Teaching Tenure in Urban Schools .........118
Recommendations for Research and Practice..........._.._.. ................. ....__. 119
Recommendations for Future Research ........._..... ...._... ........_........119
Recommendations for Future Practice .............. ...............121....


APPENDIX


A CODING ........._..... ...._... ...............124....


B GROUNDED THEORY ............... ............... 147


C EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE............... ............14












D INFORMED CONSENT ................. ...............150................


E IRB APPROVAL................ ...............15


F INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE ................. ...............152...............


LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............154................


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............163......... ......


































































V111

















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure pg

A-1 Influences on teachers' initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education. ............125

A-2 Influences on teachers' initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an
urban area. ............. ............... 127....

A-3 Agriculture teachers' current experiences in urban schools. .............. ...............133

A-4 Agriculture teachers' outlook on their teaching tenure in an urban school............1 45

B-1 Grounded theory of the career experiences of novice urban agriculture teachers .148
















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

CAREER EXPERIENCES OF NOVICE URBAN AGRICULTURE TEACHERS

By

Wendy Jacklyn Warner

August 2006

Chair: Shannon Washburn
Major Department: Agricultural Education and Communication

In an attempt to increase the number of Agricultural Education programs, diversify

the enrollment of Agricultural Education students, and make an effort to increase the

agricultural literacy of urban students, it is imperative to establish more agriculture

programs in urban areas. As a result, there must be an adequate supply of agriculture

teachers who are willing to pursue and maintain teaching positions in urban schools.

The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the decisions of agriculture

teachers to teach in urban schools. To carry out this study, a criterion sample was used to

select nine individuals who graduated from a teacher education program and had been

teaching in an urban school for one to eight years. Specifically, the interview process was

used to investigate the factors that influenced agriculture teachers' decisions to teach in

urban schools, the experiences that agriculture teachers have had while teaching in urban

schools, and the outlook on the longevity of their careers in urban schools.

The categories relevant to the teachers' decisions to teach Agricultural Education

included teacher background and decision to pursue teacher certification in Agricultural









Education. The categories significant to the teachers' decisions to teach Agricultural

Education in an urban school included prior experience in urban schools, desired

location, decision to teach in a particular school, level of influence from family,

participants' perceptions of urban schools, and participants' perceptions of Agricultural

Education in rural schools. The categories that emerged from the data specific to the

participants' experiences while teaching in an urban school included benefits to the

teacher, contribution of cultural diversity to the classroom environment, level of parental

support, administrative support for Agricultural Education, administrative obstacles to

teacher vision, Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools, value of Agricultural

Education to urban students, FFA in urban schools, obstacles to FFA involvement,

Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban schools, and school characteristics.

The category pertinent to agriculture teachers' outlooks on their teaching tenure in an

urban school identified multiple influences on the participants' decisions to continue

teaching at their current schools.















CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

The call to include Agricultural Education in urban schools is not recent. In 1999,

the National Council for Agricultural Education published Reinventing Agriculture for

the Year 2020. Goal two of this document stated that, "all students should have access to

seamless, lifelong instruction in agriculture, food, fiber and natural resource systems

through a wide variety of delivery methods and educational settings" (National Council

for Agricultural Education, 1999, p. 4). In addition, one of the stated objectives is that

"all students in urban, suburban, and rural schools, have access to high-quality

agricultural education programs" (p.4). In 1988, the National Research Council

recommended "specialized magnet high schools for the agricultural sciences in maj or

urban and suburban areas" (p. 4).

Seven years after the distribution of Reinventing Agriculture for the Year 2020, it

appears that little progress has been made towards the goal of expanding Agricultural

Education programs in urban areas. The National FFA Organization (2004) estimated that

nationwide approximately 162,000 FFA members reside in urban or suburban areas.

Considering that there are 172,000 students enrolled in 10Oth -12th grade in the New York

City Public School District alone (Sable & Young, 2003), Agricultural Education is being

offered to a minute proportion of urban students. While the National FFA Organization

(2004) reported that there are FFA chapters in 11 of the 20 largest cities; including New

York, Chicago, and Philadelphia; the exact number of Agricultural Education programs

located in urban areas cannot be determined based on existing data.









Benefits of Including Agricultural Education in Urban Schools

The potential increase of urban programs offers numerous benefits to Agricultural

Education. A long range goal was issued at the National Agricultural Education

Inservice, held in February 2006, to have 10,000 quality Agricultural Education programs

by the year 2015. Currently, there are 7,210 Agriculture Education programs nationwide

(National FFA Organization, 2006). Therefore, prospective areas of expansion must be

identified.

Urban areas have witnessed a population explosion. The United States has seen an

increase in the percentage of the total population residing in metropolitan areas, from

28% in 1910 to 80% in 2000. Approximately 226 million people live in United States

metropolitan areas, which is nearly four times the population of non-metropolitan areas

(Hobbs & Stoops, 2002). The growth of metropolitan areas has resulted in an increase in

urban school student populations. During the 2001-02 school year, there were 47.7

million students enrolled in public schools. Fifty-seven percent of the schools were

located in large or midsize cities or their accompanying fringe areas and accounted for

69% of all public school students. In 2001-02, an estimated 1 out of every 6 American

students attended a large city school (Hoffman, 2003).

To account for the expanding student population, new schools are being built at a

rapid pace. The growing number of classrooms in metropolitan areas is evidence that the

need for new teachers will be the strongest in urban areas (Grant, 1989). On average,

urban schools have larger student populations than both suburban and rural schools

(Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996; Sachs, 2004). In their study of rural and urban

schools in Ohio, McCracken and Barcinas (1991) reported that the average senior class in

rural schools consisted of 74 students compared to urban schools which averaged 333









senior class members. The inclusion of Agricultural Education classes in urban schools

provides access to a large student population and provides immense potential to increase

the current number of Agricultural Education programs.

While the inclusion of Agricultural Education in urban locations can potentially

increase the number of agriculture programs, it can also help diversify student enrollment

in agriculture classes. An obj ective included in Reinventing Agricultural Education for

the Year 2020 stated, "student enrollments in Agricultural Education should represent the

diversity of the school-aged population" (p.4). Currently, the demographic composition

of Agricultural Education students does not accurately reflect the demographics of the

general student population. Approximately 39% of United States public school students

are members of minority groups (Hoffman, 2003). Meanwhile, the National FFA

Organization (2004) estimates that approximately 23% of FFA members are minority

students. Considering 63% of students in large or midsize cities are minority students

(Hoffman, 2003), the initiation of urban Agricultural Education programs offers the

prospect of reaching a more culturally diverse group of students than is currently enrolled

in agriculture programs.

Offering Agricultural Education courses in urban schools can assist in the efforts to

increase the agricultural literacy of urban students. Agricultural literacy efforts are

needed to ensure that the general population understands and values the contribution that

agriculture makes to society. Malecki, Israel, and Toro (2004) contend that "increasing

agricultural literacy is important because it can help citizens make informed choices as

voters to support or oppose public policies on agriculture-related issues, such as

genetically-modified organisms in food production, food safety, and on food security,









environmental quality, and land use" (p.1). As the urban population becomes increasingly

removed from the farm, the promotion of agricultural awareness is a critical need. In a

study of the agricultural literacy of urban/suburban and rural 12th grade students, Pense,

Beebe, Leising, Wakefield, and Steffen (2006) reported that the rural students possessed

higher levels of agricultural knowledge when compared to the urban/suburban students.

While the aim of Agricultural Education is to educate society as a whole on the

importance of agriculture, this cannot be accomplished by leaving urban youth out of the

equation.

Challenges to the Inclusion of Agricultural Education in Urban Schools

The goal of increasing the number of urban agriculture programs is hindered by a

lack of prospective teachers. Agricultural Education is consistently faced with a shortage

of competent teachers. In 2001, 67 agriculture teachers were needed nationwide, but not

available and 35 agriculture departments did not operate due to the lack of a qualified

teacher (Camp, Broyles, & Skelton, 2002). Likewise, urban schools are facing unique

challenges related to school staffing due "to rapidly growing student enrollments,

accelerating rates of teacher retirement, class size reduction initiatives, and demanding

working conditions" (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000, p. 6). Administrators in urban

schools have reported a decline in the size of the teacher applicant pools (Krei, 1998).

They find it challenging to recruit new teachers when school districts in surrounding

areas offer higher salaries, better facilities, a less challenging student body, and are

perceived as less stressful working environments (Snipes, Doolittle, & Herlihy, 2002).

In addition to the challenges of teacher recruitment, teacher retention is another

obstacle in urban schools which face high rates of teacher turnover (Bruno & Negrete,

1983). Nationally, approximately one-half of beginning teachers exit the classroom in the









first six years. In urban districts this turnover occurs in five years. In some urban districts,

one-half of the beginners leave in a three to four year period (Haberman & Rickards,

1990). Using data from a study of teacher turnover, Rollefson (1990) concluded that rate

of teacher attrition increases with the growth of the minority population in a school.

Public schools with a 5% minority enrollment reported a teacher attrition rate of 7.4%.

Teacher attrition increased to 10.5% in schools when minority student enrollment was

50% or more. The urban school vacancies that result from this rapid rate of teacher

turnover are often filled with teachers who are not fully certified (Urban Teacher

Collaborative, 2000). In order to establish and sustain agriculture programs in urban

schools, a cadre of well-prepared Agricultural Education teachers who are willing to

accept and retain teaching positions in urban locations is desperately needed.

Statement of the Problem

In an attempt to increase the number of Agricultural Education programs, diversify

the enrollment of Agricultural Education students to reflect the general student

population, and make an effort to increase the agricultural literacy of urban students, it is

imperative to establish more agriculture programs in urban areas. As a result, there must

be an adequate supply of agriculture teachers who are willing to pursue and maintain

teaching positions in urban schools. Due to the high attrition rates of novice teachers, it is

important to examine why beginning teachers choose to teach in urban schools and the

influences on their teaching tenure in urban locations.

Minimal research has been conducted on Agricultural Education in urban schools.

Current literature focuses primarily on urban Agricultural Education students. The factors

that influence agriculture teachers' decisions to obtain employment in an urban school,

the unique experiences of urban agriculture teachers, and agriculture teachers'










expectations of their future teaching careers in urban schools have not been previously

examined in the Agricultural Education literature.

Statement of Purpose and Exploratory Questions Guiding Study

The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the decisions of agriculture

teachers to teach in urban schools. Specifically, the interview process was used to

investigate the factors that influenced agriculture teachers' decisions to teach in urban

schools, the experiences that agriculture teachers have had while teaching in urban

schools, and the outlook on the longevity of their careers in urban schools. The following

questions were used to provide direction to the research process:

Why did you decide to teach Agricultural Education?
What influenced your initial decision to teach Agricultural Education in an
urban school?
What kind of experiences have you had while teaching agriculture in an
urban school?
What are your expectations of your future teaching career in an urban
school?
Definition of Terms

AXIAL, CODING. A set of procedures whereby data are put back together in
new ways after open coding, by making connections between categories
(Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p.96).

NATIONAL FFA ORGANIZATION. Leadership organization for students
enrolled in Agricultural Education.

NOVICE URBAN AGRICULTURE TEACHERS. Individuals with 1-8 years of
teaching experience who are providing agriculture instruction in an urban
school .

OPEN CODING. The process of breaking down, examining, comparing,
conceptualizing, and categorizing data (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 61).

SELECTIVE CODING. The process of selecting the core category,
systematically relating it to other categories, validating those relationships,
and filling in categories that need further refinement and development
(Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 116).










SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE (SAE). The actual, planned
application of concepts and principles learned in agricultural education.
Students are supervised by agriculture teachers in cooperation with
parents/guardians, employers and other adults who assist them in the
development and achievement of their educational goals. The purpose is to
help students develop skills and abilities leading toward a career (Barrick et
al., 1992, p.2).

URBAN AREA. Population of at least 400,000 people (National Center for
Education Statistics, 2000).

URBAN AGRICULTURE PROGRAM. Students receive systematic instruction in
an agriculturally related subj ect at a school located in an urban area
(Soloninka, 2003).

Limitations and Assumptions of the Study

This study sought to explain the unique experiences of each individual, so the

findings cannot be generalized to a larger population. Also, the participants were selected

from three different school districts and may not be representative of all urban

agriscience teachers. During the interview process, it was assumed that the participants


provided honest and accurate answers.















CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

As stated in Chapter 1, there is a dearth of research about Agricultural Education in

urban schools. The relevant literature examined the barriers preventing urban students

from participating in successful Supervised Agricultural Experiences (Whaley & Lucero,

1993), the agriculture curriculum in urban programs (Russell, 1999; Russell & Trede,

1999; Soloninka, 2003; Soloninka & Connors, 2003; Trede & Russell, 1999), college and

career choices of urban Agricultural Education students (Esters, 2003; Esters, 2005;

Esters & Bowen, 2004), factors influencing urban students to enroll in an Agricultural

Education program (Esters & Bowen, 2004), opinions of urban Agricultural Education

students towards agriculture (Talbert, 1996; Talbert, 1997), and the major issues facing

urban agriscience teachers (Warner & Washburn, 2005). The aforementioned studies

focused primarily on urban Agricultural Education students, while research examining

agriculture teachers' beliefs about teaching in urban schools, experiences while teaching

agriculture in urban schools, and expectations about the future of Agricultural Education

in urban schools is absent from the literature.

Context of Urban Schools

In an effort to conduct an inquiry of Agricultural Education teachers' career

experiences in urban schools, it is important to gain a better understanding of the unique

context of urban schools. Urban schools commonly enroll students whose demographic

characteristics and home environment are markedly different than those of rural and

suburban students. These differences in student culture and experience have an inevitable









impact on the school environment. An ever-increasing population of racially diverse

students can be found in urban schools. Over the past decade, there has been an increase

in the number of urban school students who belonged to a Hispanic or "other" minority

group (including Asians and Pacific Islanders), while the proportion of Caucasian

students declined and the proportion of African American students remained stable

(Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996). In several urban schools, minority groups

(American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asians/ Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, and African

American) constitute the maj ority of the student population. According to the Urban

Teacher Collaborative (2000), approximately 50% of the minority students in the nation

are enrolled in urban schools. The distribution of ethnically diverse students in urban

schools differs from student populations in non-urban communities. Over 80% of the

eighth graders enrolled in rural and advantaged suburban schools were Caucasian (Peng,

Wang, & Walberg, 1992). Likewise, the current Agricultural Education enrollment

consists primarily of Caucasian students (National FFA Organization, 2004).

Urban schools are faced with large numbers of immigrant and limited English

proficient students who require bilingual or ESOL (English for Speakers of Other

Languages) education (Montero-Sieburth, 1989). It is estimated that urban schools

nationwide are responsible for educating almost half of the students who are not

proficient in English (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000). Peng, Wang, and Walberg

(1992) reported approximately one-quarter of students who were classified as ESOL,

speak a language other than English in their homes. The number of students reported to

have difficulty speaking English is steadily rising. During the 2002-03 school year,

additional services were provided to 4 million ESOL students (Hoffman, Sable, Naum, &










Gray, 2005). According to Pallas, Natriello, and McDill (1989) the number of students

who speak a primary language other than English will triple by 2020. Even with the

assistance of full-time ESOL teachers and the inclusion of specific ESOL strategies in the

classroom, students with limited English proficiency often lack the necessary language

skills to be highly successful in the classroom and on standardized tests administered by

the school.

In addition to the language barrier faced by many urban students, as a group they

also face greater levels of economic hardship as compared to suburban and rural students.

An estimated 30% of urban children were likely to be living in poverty, which is more

than the 13% of suburban children or the 22% of rural children who lived in poverty.

Furthermore, urban children were more likely to qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Thirty-eight percent of urban students received a free or reduced lunch as compared to

16% of suburban students and 28% of rural students (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur,

1996).

Society has experienced a decline in the traditional family structure, especially in

urban areas. Urban students were less likely to reside in two-parent families when

compared to students in suburban and rural schools (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur,

1996). Similarly, the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 reported a lack of

traditional family structure among urban eighth grade students. Approximately 44% of

the urban students resided with both biological parents, while 62% of students in other

communities lived with both their mother and father. Thirty-one percent of students in

inner-city schools resided with only their mother. Parents of urban students were also

more likely to be unmarried as a result of being divorced, separated, never married,









widowed or cohabiting (Peng, Wang, & Walberg, 1992). Lack of parental support can

pose a serious problem to the educational success of a child (Corcoran, Walker and

White, 1988).

Preferred Teaching Location

In an attempt to increase the number of urban agriculture teachers, it is important

to understand several factors that influence their selection of a teaching position.

Prospective teachers have been found to highly value the location of the school when

searching for employment and traditionally tend to seek j obs in schools located very

close to where they were raised. In a study by Zimpher (1988), approximately 83%

(n=605) of the prospective teacher respondents were raised in suburban or rural

communities. When asked to express preferences regarding j ob placement, 84% (n=612)

of the respondents wanted to secure a teaching position in a rural or suburban area. Only

16% (n=1 17) of the respondents expressed a desire to teach in an urban or maj or urban

area.

Some preservice teachers are adamantly opposed to the idea of taking a j ob in an

urban school. Gilbert (1995) conducted a study with preservice teachers who were

primarily from rural, small towns, or suburban areas. Of the 71 preservice teachers who

indicated that they attended rural schools, 47.9% (n=34) said they absolutely would not

teach in an urban school. The students voiced concerns about violence, the atmosphere of

urban schools, an inability to relate to urban students, and an aversion to city life (Gilbert,

1995).

This reluctance to teach in an urban environment is especially alarming when

considering the demographics of preservice agriculture teachers. In his study, Rocca

(2005) found that over 86% (n = 214) of preservice agriculture teachers grew up in a rural









setting; only 2.9% (n = 6) were raised in an urban location. Based on this finding, he

recommended comparing the geographic location of a preservice teacher' s upbringing

with the location where they would consider living and teaching (Rocca, 2005).

Many prospective teachers believe that returning to their hometown or a nearby

area will increase their rapport with the students due to similar backgrounds and

comparable school experience (Werner, 1993). Also, preservice teachers from

rural/suburban backgrounds feel they would be more efficacious when teaching in school

environments similar to their own (Easter, Shultz, Neyhart, & Reck, 1999). As a result of

their rural upbringing, many future Agricultural Education teachers may doubt their

ability to establish and maintain a successful connection with urban students and achieve

programmatic success in an urban school.

Preservice Teachers' Perceptions of Urban Schools

The perceptions and beliefs of preservice teachers may promote their unwillingness

to consider teaching in an urban area. An individual's beliefs about teaching effectiveness

and student behavior often develop over the course of their primary and secondary school

experiences and carry into their teacher preparation program (Paj ares, 1992). It is very

difficult to dispel the beliefs that students have formed based on their prior experiences.

From a synthesis of research on beliefs, Pajares (1992) concluded, "beliefs are formed

early and tend to self-perpetuate, persevering even against contradictions caused by

reason, time, schooling, or experiences" (p. 324). The media may also be responsible for

perceptions that individuals hold about the context of urban schools. With a lack of

experience in urban schools and limited exposure to urban locations, individuals may use

media images as the foundation for their beliefs. As explained by Grant (2002), "When

the experiences of young people differ widely from those of inner-city youth, they rely on










images in popular culture for information about worlds different from their own. These

images reflect and shape the assumptions with which preservice teachers enter urban

classrooms..."(p.78) Several researchers have concluded preservice teachers have

established beliefs about the students, teachers, and school environment in urban areas

even though they may not have personal experiences with such environments.

Beliefs about Students

Future teachers often regard urban students as apathetic individuals who possess

negative attitudes toward education. When asked to describe the attitudes and behaviors

of urban students, preservice teachers used adj ectives such as, "lackadaisical,

unmotivated, rougher, violent, more streetwise, emotionally unstable, and concerned with

survival" (Shultz, Neyhart, & Reck, 1996, p.4). Additional descriptors of urban students

included, "disruptive, disrespectful of teachers, having more problems, and exhibiting

worse behavior than suburban children" (Aaronsohn, Carter, & Howell, 1995, p.6).

Gilbert (1997) found that future teachers felt urban youth were more at-risk due to the

potential for gang membership and exposure to violence in their surroundings. Preservice

teachers also held opinions about the learning ability of urban students. Twenty percent

(n=50) of the participants in a study by Shultz et al., (1996) thought urban students would

have decreased academic ability when compared to other students.

Beliefs about Parents

Preservice teachers also expressed negative beliefs regarding the parents of urban

students. Parents have been viewed as unconcerned and unengaged partners in the

education of their child, who provided minimal support and guidance (Aaronsohn et al.,

1995). In a study of the attitudes of 140 preservice teachers, 24% (n=34) of the

participants felt urban parents had a vested interest in the education of their children as










compared to 72% (n=101) of the participants who felt non-urban parents took interest in

their children's education. Research has also indicated a notable difference in preservice

teachers' perceptions regarding urban and non-urban parents support of teachers,

assistance with the educational process, and support of their children (Socoski & Hynes,

1991).

Beliefs about Urban Teachers

Gilbert (1997) asked 345 preservice teachers to describe their perceptions about

urban teachers. Most of the responses focused on personal attributes of the teachers. The

respondents identified urban teachers as "young, middle-class, mostly minority females

who attended urban schools themselves" (p.86). The participants also predicted urban

teachers would encounter problems beyond the curriculum such as crime, drug use, teen

pregnancy, student behavior, and low socioeconomic status, so it was beneficial to be

strong-willed and streetwise (Gilbert, 1997). In a study by Socoski and Hynes (1991)

preservice teachers questioned the j ob satisfaction of urban teachers. Participants felt

urban teachers were more likely to experience teacher burnout and disillusionment than

teachers in non-urban areas (Socoski & Hynes, 1991). In addition, the true

responsibilities of teachers in an urban classroom were questioned. Tiezzi and Cross

(1997) concluded prospective teachers considered urban teachers to serve more "as

problem solver rather than facilitator of learning" (p. 117) or as a "police officer" or

"baby sitter" (Aaronsohn et al., 1995).

Beliefs about Urban School Context

In Gilbert' s (1997) study of prospective teacher beliefs, the respondents pictured

urban school buildings as aging, overcrowded buildings, comparable to jails. They also

characterized urban schools as a dismal environment containing minimal facilities and









providing limited opportunities for students. Undergraduate students also described a

bleak school location, in "a slum" with deteriorating buildings surrounding the school

(Aaronsohn et al., 1995).

Beliefs about Cultural Diversity

The maj ority of preservice teachers are single, Caucasian females, who are

approximately 25 years old and grew up in either a rural or suburban community

(Zimpher, 1988). In Agricultural Education, the typical preservice student is a Caucasian

female from a rural community. Only 6.6% (n= 14) of the 215 Agricultural Education

students who completed a teaching internship in Fall 2005 were members of minority

groups (Rocca, 2005). Camp et al. (2002) reported that Agricultural Education teachers

were predominately Caucasian males. Approximately 78% (n=7,536) of Agricultural

Education teachers were male and 22% (n=2,079) of Agricultural Education teachers

were female. Caucasian teachers represented 93.6% (n=9,067) of all Agricultural

Education teachers, with Hispanic teachers and African American teachers representing

3.2% (n=303) and 2.5% (n=245) of the Agricultural Education teaching force

respectively .

Often, students reported they had little interaction with individuals from other

cultures. In Gilbert' s (1995) study of rural prospective teachers, 40% (n=77) of the

respondents had minimal interaction with students of different races and cultures. A

quarter of the students (n = 48) had not intermingled with an ethnically diverse group of

students during their time as a university student (Gilbert, 1995). Individuals who

welcome the contribution of cultural diversity to education generally have positive

attitudes towards social interaction with culturally different others (Dee & Henkin, 2002).

The monocultural upbringing of future teachers is likely to impact their perceptions of the









contribution that cultural diversity makes to the classroom environment. Some preservice

teachers consider the incorporation of culture to have a negative impact on classrooms

due to a lack of cross-cultural curriculum, potential prejudice of teachers, inconsistencies

in performance expectations and standardized test scores among different racial groups,

and negative effects of stereotypes (Shultz, Neyhart, & Reck, 1996). The cultural

stereotypes some teachers maintain have been found to limit their encouragement of

minority student participation in a variety of school activities and events. Larke (1990)

reported that 88.3% (n=46) of female elementary school teachers thought they would be

surprised if a minority student chose to participate in an activity that usually attracted

non-minority students.

Influence of Preservice Teachers' Experiences in Urban Schools

The socialization process that takes place during early field experiences and student

teaching challenges the beliefs of preservice teachers and helps shape attitudes and

knowledge that will inspire their teaching (Smith, 2003). Heinemann, Obi, Pagano, and

Weiner (1992) stressed the value of early field experiences in an effort to diminish the

stereotypes and uncertainties of preservice students.

Fry and McKinney (1997) described how early preservice teaching experiences at

an urban school influenced the attitudes and teaching practices of 10 preservice

elementary education teachers. The participants were all Caucasian females who reported

that they had experienced minimal to virtually no contact with other racial groups. Prior

to their field experience, none of the 10 participants expressed a preference to teach in an

urban school and only two would consider working in urban settings. They attributed

their opinions to fear, a lack of familiarity with other ethnic groups and a preference for

residing in a rural or suburban area. The field experience site enrolled approximately 250









students and 99% of the students were African American. At the completion of the Hield

experience, nine of the students stated that they would consider teaching in a culturally

diverse, urban school. Two expressed their preference to teach in such a setting. The

students who completed the Hield experience were compared to 21 Caucasian, female

elementary education students who had a similar methods course, but did not complete a

Hield experience. None of these students expressed a preference to teach in an urban

environment and three of these students stated that they would consider teaching in a

culturally diverse, urban school because they were willing to take a job in any setting.

While the purpose of this study was not to generalize beyond the 3 1 participants, it does

provide some evidence that the completion of Hield experiences can influence preservice

teachers' beliefs about urban schools.

In an effort to examine the effect of an urban Hield experience on rural and

suburban preservice teachers in Minnesota, twenty-Hyve students completed an urban field

placement for one week in elementary schools around Chicago (Marxen & Rudney,

1999). Six months after the conclusion of the field experience, the participants wrote two

essays reflecting on their teaching experience in the city. From the responses, the

researchers identified three main areas of focus: Self, Students, and School. Every

participant described positive relations with the students in their classrooms. Many of the

preservice teachers identified disparities in access to materials, technology, and adequate

facilities among the different schools they were placed in among the city. Almost half of

the participants were surprised by their expectations and the reality of the school

environment. One of the preservice teachers discussed how the harsh environment of the

school neighborhood disappeared when she entered the school building. Initially, 33%










(n=8) of the preservice teachers were nervous about being a minority, but their initial

apprehension diminished as their comfort with the students and the school increased

(Marxen & Rudney, 1999).

Wolffe (1996) assessed the influence of a two-day field experience in an urban

school on the attitudes that preservice teachers had about urban students. The

participants were junior elementary education maj ors who were enrolled in a small

college in rural Indiana. Eighteen students participated in the Hield experience which took

place in a magnet school with a population of nearly 50% African American students and

50% Caucasian students. The participants completed a ten question survey on two

different occasions a week prior to the urban experience and four days after returning

from the Hield experience. The Eindings revealed the students had a reduced level of low

expectations for urban schools, but they still held lower expectations for urban students

compared to other students. A comparison was made with 18 sophomores who intended

to maj or in elementary education. These students did not participate in the Hield

experience and had no significant change in attitudes. In addition, written excerpts from

the field experience participants provided the most convincing evidence of more positive

expectations of urban students at the conclusion of the teaching experience (Wolffe,

1996).

Student teaching experiences in an urban school can assist in the growth of self-

efficacy among preservice teachers. Rushton (2000) analyzed interviews, written

reflections, and group discussions of five preservice teachers to gain a better

understanding of their year-long internship experience in an inner-city school. Initially,

the participants shared a feeling of culture shock. The preservice teachers expressed









disbelief concerning the challenging lives that students had, the prominent display of

crime and violence in the community, and the disrespectful attitude of the students. As

the participants became more familiar with the school environment, they reported

feelings of increased self-efficacy. Rushton (2000) opined that "the severity of practice

teaching in inner-city schools speeded up the development of self-efficacy. By accepting

and embracing situations not normally considered conducive to building self-esteem the

interns were forced to master the situation" (p.3 82). The findings of this study are similar

to the findings of a later study by Rushton (2003).

Pagano, Weiner, Obi, and Swearingen (1995) examined the effect of an urban

student teaching experience on the career motivations of future teachers. The preservice

teachers credited their teaching experiences with a renewed commitment to a future

career in teaching. From interviews conducted with 38 teacher candidates, the most

common form of motivation cited by the teachers was their commitment to the students.

They also responded positively to the cultural diversity found in urban classrooms, which

encouraged several student teachers to desire a teaching position in an urban school

(Pagano et al., 1995). A follow-up study was conducted with the same group of

individuals two years after they had started teaching. The teachers' dedication to their

students was the factor deemed responsible for their continued commitment to teaching in

an urban location. Four teachers expressed a decreased level of motivation citing

unmotivated students and lack of support from the school administration (Pagano,

Weiner, & Rand, 1997).

In contrast, Haberman and Post (1992) found direct experience in urban schools

reinforced the preconceptions that preservice student had about urban students. Upon










completion of 100 hours of direct experience with low-income, minority students, the

preservice teachers reported increased negative attitudes towards the students.

Exposure to cultural diversity through experience. Prospective urban teachers

must be prepared and willing to embrace the cultural context of their classroom. Garmon

(2004) conducted extensive interviews with a teacher candidate who hailed from a small

rural community with a 1% minority population. Over the course of the teacher education

program, the researcher noted a dramatic change in the participant's beliefs and attitudes

towards racial/cultural diversity. Initially the participant intended to teach in a community

that reflected the community where she was raised. However, during the last year of the

teacher preparation program, the participant expressed an interest in teaching in an urban

location. From the interviews, the researcher deduced that six factors consisting of both

personal characteristics and relevant experiences facilitated a substantial change in the

participant' s viewpoint towards cultural diversity. The six important factors posited by

Garmon (2004) were

OPENNESS. Receptiveness to others' ideas or arguments, as well as
receptiveness to diversity (p.204).

SELF-AWARENESS/SELF-REFLECTIVENESS. Awareness and willingness to
critically evaluate one's own beliefs and attitudes (p.205).

COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL JUSTICE. A commitment to equity and equality for
all people in society (p. 206).

INTERCULTURAL EXPERIENCES. Opportunity for direct interaction with one
or more individuals from a cultural group different than one's own (p. 207).

SUPPORT GROUP EXPERIENCES. Individuals who encourage a person's
growth through the use of various activities and provide feelings of
acceptance, caring, safety, and support (p.209).

EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES. Class-related experiences that support and
extend learning (p. 210).









Considering the rural backgrounds of a maj ority of the preservice Agricultural

Education teachers, personal characteristics and appropriate experiences are crucial

factors in broadening perspectives about cultural diversity in the classroom. Only about

half of the Agricultural Education programs require teacher education students to

complete field experiences in schools with a diverse student population. Over 50%

(n=28) of the student teaching sites lack student diversity commonly found in urban

schools (Wakefield & Talbert, 1999).

Decision to Teach

With a shortage of teachers, it is important to examine the impetus behind the

decision to pursue a teaching career. According to Moran, Kilpatrick, Abbott, Dallat, and

McClune (2001) factors that individuals credit for their decision to teach can be classified

into three areas as defined by Kyriacou and Coulthard (2000),

ALTRUISTIC REASONS. Reasons that deal with seeing teaching as a socially
worthwhile and important j ob, a desire to help children succeed, and a
desire to help society improve (p. 117).

INTRINSIC REASONS: Reasons that cover aspects of the j ob activity itself,
such as the activity of teaching children, and an interest in using their
subject matter knowledge and expertise (p. 117).

EXTRINSIC REASONS: Reasons that cover aspects of the j ob which are not
inherent in the work itself, such as long holidays, level of pay, and status
(p. 117).

The motivation of altruistic, intrinsic, and extrinsic reasons is commonly

acknowledged in the literature on the career decisions of prospective teachers. In Lortie' s

(1975) sociological study of teaching, he concluded that individuals were attracted to the

teaching profession because they had a desire to work with young people, viewed

teaching as a valuable service, felt they could express interests in the school setting,










preferred the hours and vacation time, and felt a sense of job security. Using Lortie's

study as a framework, Morales (1994) investigated the career decision of 102 teacher

education maj ors from four different counties. The participants indicated that the maj or

reasons influencing their career choice were needs for service and power and the ability

to influence others.

In a study of education students at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Hayes

(1990) reported that the most frequently mentioned reason for entering the teaching

profession was the opportunity to provide a positive and nurturing environment for the

students. The college students also expressed a love of children and felt that they would

have the opportunity to express their creative abilities in a classroom. Contrary to the

Lortie study, none of the participants mentioned the promise of job security as a factor

that influenced their decision to teach. The students also acknowledged the influence of

others on their personal decision to teach. Thirty-two percent of the students had at least

one parent that was a teacher and 54% were encouraged to enter teaching by a former

teacher.

While African American teachers indicated intrinsic motives for their pursuit of a

teaching career, they also embraced the opportunity to serve as a social change agent and

contribute to the improvement of the educational system for minorities. King (1993)

examined why a cohort of African American teachers decided to enter teaching. Initially,

the primary attraction to teaching for 83% of the participants was the opportunity to work

with young people. However, the factors that they cited as most influential in their

decision to actually teach was the lack of minority teachers who could serve as exemplary

role models for the students. When comparing Caucasian and minority students' reasons










for entering teaching, both groups indicated intrinsic motives, but had distinctly different

ideas as to their contributions to students (Su, 1996). Caucasian students believed that

they could exert a positive influence on the lives of their students and make a significant

contribution to society. Minority students felt a need to enter teaching in an effort to

provide adequate educational opportunities for poor and minority students and offer a

curriculum that would be relevant to minority students' experiences (Su, 1996).

Science teachers who participated in Eick' s (2002) study described their initial

intrinsic reasons for selecting a teaching career. They expressed a desire to exert a

positive influence on their students. Females felt they should teach for learning and

success, while males felt that they should help prepare students to become productive

citizens.

Decision to Teach in an Urban School.

After the completion of a field experience in a multicultural setting with students of

varying ages and academic abilities, preservice teachers were asked to respond to the

following question: "What aspects of your teaching experience would encourage you to

consider teaching in an urban setting?" (Proctor, Rentz, & Jackson, 2001, p. 223).

Responses to this question indicated preservice teachers possessed a desire to help

underprivileged students by supporting their academic learning and establishing a

concerned and loving relationship. They also appreciated urban students' responsiveness

and enthusiasm and valued the multicultural differences among the elementary school

students (Proctor, Rentz, & Jackson, 2001). Urban elementary teachers considered their

decisions to take jobs in urban locations as a contribution to society through their

assistance to students and devotion to providing quality learning opportunities to students

of low socioeconomic backgrounds (Olsen & Anderson, 2004).









When Gilbert (1995) examined the beliefs that rural students had towards teaching

in urban schools, 95 of the 193 participants expressed an interest in teaching in an urban

school. Twenty-six of the students were motivated to teach in an urban area due to social

or altruistic reasons. They indicated a belief that, "urban children deserved good teachers

and good teaching and wanted to help the children or give back to the area where they

had grown up" (p. 297). The respondents also identified several personal reasons that

would help their decision to teach in an urban school including satisfaction with any

teaching job, desire of a personal challenge, increased quality of life, and the potential

opportunity for a higher income.

Decision to Teach Agricultural Education.

Several studies in Agricultural Education focus on the academic abilities, such as

high school rank, ACT scores, grade point average, of preservice teachers who enter the

teaching profession compared to preservice teachers who enter a different career (McCoy

& Mortensen, 1983; Muller & Miller, 1993; Wardlow, 1986). In an effort to examine the

impact of student teaching experience and other personal characteristics, Hovatter (2002)

surveyed 75 preservice Agricultural Education teachers about their decision to pursue a

teaching career. The most influential factors on the teachers' career decisions were a

desire to interact with people and the opportunity to teach students valuable life skills

through different components of the program.

Decision to Continue Teaching

If long term retention of teachers is a potential solution for the teacher shortage,

research findings paint a bleak picture about the length of teacher tenure. Typically

teachers exit the profession early in their careers. Henke, Zahn, and Carroll (2001) found

that 20% of new teachers leave within their first three years of teaching. In order to









maintain the current number of Agricultural Education programs, a high percentage of

teacher retention is necessary. The exit of qualified Agricultural Education teachers

coupled with the inability to produce enough graduates to fi11 current teacher openings

could have negative consequences. Existing programs could potentially close and school

districts may be dissuaded from starting new programs due to a lack of well-prepared

teachers. To help combat such a problem, there is a need to examine why a teacher

decides to continue teaching.

Johnson and Birkeland (2002) conducted interviews with 50 first and second year

teachers who obtained teacher certification through a variety of methods (teacher

preparation programs at public or private universities, state-sponsored or within-district

charter schools, or alternative certification) and who decided to accept teaching positions

in a wide range of public schools (urban and suburban; elementary, middle, and high

school; large and small student populations; conventional and charter). Follow-up

interviews with 13 teachers who were satisfied with teaching and planned to stay in the

school where they began teaching for an indefinite amount of time revealed that these

participants were highly efficacious in their ability to be successful teachers and sought

out opportunities for professional growth and development.

The administration also contributed to the teachers' career satisfaction. The

principals encouraged assistance from outside sources and established expectations that

supported an orderly learning environment and maximized student achievement. This

study also identified the importance of providing new teachers with an appropriate

assignment and realistic workload, accessibility to adequate educational resources, and a

school environment that promoted collegiality (Johnson & Birkeland, 2002).









Wilhelm, Dewhurst-Savellis, and Parker (2000) conducted a 15 year longitudinal

study with 156 teachers. Every five years, the researchers collected data on careers, social

networks, and coping styles used when stressed or depressed to make comparisons

between individuals that remained in the teaching profession and those individuals who

left the teaching profession. Teachers cited income, holiday and leave conditions, making

a difference in students' lives, and student feedback as influential factors in their

decisions to continue teaching.

Decision to Continue Teaching Agricultural Education.

In 1980, Reilly and Welton conducted a study to determine why vocational

agriculture teachers remained in the teaching profession. In a survey of 80 Kansas

teachers, factors that encouraged teachers to continue teaching were specific to people in

general, students, and the teaching environment. The participants expressed that they

enjoyed working with a few specific groups of people: rural people, young people, and

other vocational agriculture teachers. As well, the teachers attributed intrinsic rewards

such as the satisfaction associated with helping students mature and learn and providing

guidance to young people (Reilly & Welton, 1980).

By comparing Agricultural Education teachers who remained in the profession with

Agricultural Education teachers who left teaching, Grady (1990) concluded that

experience and perceived self-efficacy can influence career decisions. Individuals who

continued teaching credited a positive learning experience and sound educational

preparation for their competence in the classroom. Furthermore, the teachers who

remained in the classroom described a much more positive experience during their first

year of teaching when compared to the recollections of the teachers who left (Grady,

1990).









Cole (1984) conducted a similar study using certified Agricultural Education

teachers who had graduated from Oregon State University over a 12 year period.

Respondents included graduates who had never entered teaching, graduates who started

teaching and left the profession, and teachers who remained teaching at the time of the

study. Similar to the Grady (1990) study, teachers who were still teaching recognized the

contribution of their teacher education program in curriculum development and teaching

methods and the experience gained through student teaching. These teachers also enjoyed

the hands-on and scientific aspects of teaching agriculture mechanics (Cole, 1984).

Edwards and Briers (2001) identified several characteristics that helped explain

teachers' predictions about the longevity of their teaching career. Gender and agricultural

work experience were identified as significant predictors of the number of years that

teachers' anticipated remaining in the profession. Males and individuals with a higher

level of agricultural work experience expected to remain agriculture teachers for the

longest period of time. If this study holds true broadly throughout the profession, the

dramatic increase of female preservice teachers and female agriculture teachers could

create future concerns for teacher retention.

Decision to continue teaching in an urban school. Using interviews and questionnaires,

Shann (1998) evaluated the satisfaction of urban middle school teachers. The participants

identified the students as the most enj oyable aspect of their j ob. They stressed the importance

of maintaining a good relationship between teachers and students and felt most satisfied with

this facet of their teaching careers (Shann, 1998).

Teacher confidence and competence in the classroom can help extend the length of

a teaching career. Chester and Beaudin (1996) were interested in how teacher










characteristics and school practices affected self-efficacy beliefs of novice teachers in

urban schools. New teachers who perceived high levels of cooperation among faculty and

administration reported higher levels of self-efficacy than new teachers who were

isolated from other teachers in the school. As well, new teachers who were observed by

an administrator multiple times throughout the school year reported a positive change in

their self-efficacy as compared to their counterparts who were not observed. The

supportive and collaborative nature of a school, in addition to observation and feedback

from administrators can successfully support the induction process of new urban

teachers.

Chapter Summary

The purpose of this chapter was to provide a review of research that is relevant to

the research study. Urban schools commonly enroll students whose demographic

characteristics and home environment are different than those of rural and suburban

students. The populations of urban schools are often composed of a large percentage of

culturally diverse students. Additionally, urban schools reported higher levels of ESOL

students and students residing in non-traditional families.

Preservice teachers often seek teaching positions near their hometowns. Due to the

rural or suburban upbringing of many preservice teachers, they are often disinclined to

consider teaching positions in urban areas. The perceptions and beliefs of preservice

teachers could support their aversion to teaching in urban schools. Literature documents

the beliefs that preservice teachers had regarding urban students, the parents of urban

students, urban teachers, the urban school context, and cultural diversity. The inclusion of

field experiences in teacher preparation courses challenged some of the pre-existing

beliefs of preservice teachers and encouraged some preservice teachers to consider










teaching positions in urban schools. Also, Hield experiences exposed preservice teachers

to the cultural diversity commonly found in urban classrooms.

There are multiple influences on teachers' decisions to teach. Teachers often cite

the impact of altruistic, intrinsic, and extrinsic reasons on their career decisions.

Preservice teachers are often attracted to urban schools because they feel they are able to

make a contribution to society by assisting with the academic growth of urban students.

Other factors that encouraged preservice teachers to accept teaching positions in urban

schools included j ob opportunities, desire for personal challenge, increased quality of life,

and possibility of a higher income. Most of the research literature on individuals'

decisions to teach Agricultural Education focus on academic measures such as

standardized test scores and grades. However, Hovatter (2002) reported that Agricultural

Education preservice teachers were drawn to the profession by a desire to work with

students.

Teacher retention is a challenge facing the education profession. Research reports

have indicated a high percentage of teacher attrition. Teachers who continued to teach

reported high levels of self-efficacy, support from administration, desire to participate in

professional development offerings, opportunity to influence the lives of students, and

personal benefits. Agricultural education teachers were encouraged to continue in their

profession by the opportunity to work with students, people in the community, and in a

particular teaching environment. The influence of agriculture teacher' s teacher

preparation courses and the success of their first year of teaching also contributed to their

decisions to continue teaching. Similarly, teachers in urban schools credited rapport with

students and confidence in the classroom for their decisions to continue teaching.










In summary, this chapter details many of the characteristics that are unique to urban

schools and to Agricultural Education. However, as previously mentioned, minimal

research has been conducted on Agricultural Education programs in urban schools. In

order to advance efforts to place and retain urban agriculture teachers, research is needed

on the distinct characteristics of Agricultural Education programs in urban schools and

how these characteristics influence preservice teachers' decisions to teach in an urban

school, their urban teaching experiences, and their decisions to continue their teaching

career in an urban school.















CHAPTER 3
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

In order to better understand why an agriculture teacher chooses to teach

Agricultural Education in an urban school, a qualitative approach was utilized for this

study. As defined by Denzin and Lincoln (1994), qualitative research is

multimethod in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subj ect
matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings,
attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings
people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection
of a variety of empirical materials that describe routine and problematic moments
and meaning in individuals' lives. (p.2)

More specifically, in-depth interviews were used to develop an understanding of

career decisions of urban Agricultural Education teachers by exploring: the perceptions

that the teachers held prior to accepting a teaching position in an urban school, the

teachers' experiences while teaching in an urban school, and the teacher's outlook on

their future career within an urban school context.

This chapter describes the research design and methods that were employed during

this study. A discussion of researcher subj activity, theoretical perspective, measures of

validity and reliability, participant selection, data collection, and data analysis are

included in the chapter.

Researcher Subjectivity

When contrasting the positivist and naturalist paradigms, there are several widely

accepted principles that are in conflict. The belief about the role of values in inquiry has

incompatible views on the function of the research methodology and the researcher










(Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The positivist approach promotes the use of research

methodology that is obj ective and value-free. Conversely, the naturalist approach

acknowledges the multiple influences that the researcher imposes on a research study

(Lincoln & Guba, 1985). As a result, it is essential that the researcher becomes personally

aware of his/her subj activities and allows the reader to understand the subj activity of the

researcher. By documenting tacit knowledge and beliefs, the researcher is better able to

monitor perspectives that could manipulate the interview process and distort the data

analysis and research findings (Glesne, 1999). The subjectivity of the researcher is

detailed below:

I was born and raised in Fayette County, Ohio. When I looked out any of the

windows of my childhood home, I saw acres of corn and soybeans. A gravel lane

stretched a quarter of a mile behind my house. At the end of the lane was my

grandparent' s house, which was surrounded by a barn, feeding floors, and several fields

that my dad and grandpa used to raise pigs. On the mile stretch of road where I grew up,

there were a total of six houses. My family lived about eight miles from the county seat,

Washington Court House, which had a population of about 15,000. On the outside of the

city limits lived another 15,000 residents.

From 1990-1994, I attended high school at Miami Trace High School. Built in

1962, the high school was the newest of all nine schools in the district. My rural high

school enrolled approximately 800 students in grades 9-12. With a student body that was

99% Caucasian, I received minimal exposure to other cultures. There was not much for

teenagers to do in a small town, so my friends and I stayed busy with extracurricular









clubs. On the weekends, we attended local sporting events such as football or basketball,

or spent a few hours burning gas while cruising around town.

When I started ninth grade, I was excited to enroll in an Agricultural Education

class and join FFA. During my four years as an FFA member, I had the opportunity to

participate in a variety of FFA activities. I was a member of the parliamentary procedure

and dairy foods judging teams, served as a chapter officer, attended FFA camp for four

summers, and traveled to Kansas City for the National FFA Convention. My active

involvement in FFA encouraged my decision to maj or in Agricultural Education while at

Ohio State.

During my undergraduate career, I fulfilled the requirements necessary to complete

my degree, but I did not have a vested interest in teaching agriculture. In my first two

years of the program, I assumed that I would find a j ob teaching in a small town close to

my hometown, teach for a few years, and then enter a new career path. As my graduation

date got closer, I decided to explore job opportunities beyond the state of Ohio. My

family thought I would relocate to either Indiana or Missouri and were very surprised

when I expressed an interest in finding a job in Florida.

In May 1998, I flew to Orlando to interview for agriculture teaching positions. I

had four interviews; one for a middle school position and three for high school positions.

I departed Orlando with a job at Corner Lake Middle School, which was a brand new

school located on the east side of Orlando. I would be teaching agriculture as an

exploratory subject to approximately 500 6th-, 7th-, and 8th- grade students.

I was excited to teach in Orlando. My aunt and uncle lived on a golf course in an

affluent suburb of Orlando, so I assumed that all my students would come from similar









environments. Was I in for a surprise! During the middle of the pre-planning frenzy, my

principal loaded all of the teachers on school buses so we could become acquainted with

the area where our students lived. The homes ranged from small, dilapidated houses, to

crowded apartment complexes, to extravagant homes with well manicured lawns and

swimming pools in the backyard. The make-up of my classes was just as diverse as the

homes that we saw on the bus tour. My students were from diverse cultures, family

structures, and economic backgrounds.

My two years of teaching at Corner Lake were challenging. I was faced with large

class sizes and students who lacked skills that were appropriate for their grade level. Our

school was on a 9-week block schedule, so it was often difficult to build rapport with

each student in only 22 days. At the end of my second year of teaching, I decided that I

wanted to teach high school and obtained a job at Robert Hungerford Preparatory High

School. This school was a stark contrast to the high school that I had attended. The

campus was located in Eatonville, Florida, which is the oldest incorporated black

municipality in the United States. The student population was made up of 42% African

American students, 33% Caucasian students, and 23% Hispanic students. Over half of the

students qualified for free or reduced lunches.

Initially, I was a little nervous about how my lack of cultural exposure might

influence my interaction with the students in my program. I was also worried about my

ability to deliver an agriscience curriculum that would meet the expectations of the

students and administration. The three years I spent teaching at Hungerford Prep were

extremely demanding, but rewarding. My students were enthusiastic and involved in

many activities and proj ects. In addition to the day-to-day routine of the classroom, the










program housed a plethora of animals: chickens, sheep, hamsters, rabbits, Eish, and a

prairie dog. We were fortunate to receive administrative approval to travel the state and

beyond the state line. We attended the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky;

visited many sites in Central Florida; and spent a few weeks every summer at leadership

and forestry camps. The students were also enthusiastic FFA members. They loved

competing in the forestry contest, the parliamentary procedure contest, and in ornamental

horticulture demonstrations. The students also enjoyed contributing to the community

through involvement in community service events, from serving dinner in a homeless

shelter to assisting with the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Teaching agriculture in an urban school was an enriching experience for me. My

students were so thoughtful and appreciative of even the smallest things that I would do

for them. The students invited me to attend activities that were significant to them, such

as church services, sporting events, and music recitals. At one church service I attended, I

was one of only two Caucasians in the entire sanctuary. I had grown used to teaching in a

school where over half the student population was comprised of African American and

Hispanic students. Nevertheless, during that church service I was able to identify with

feelings of being a minority.

As an urban agriscience teacher, I truly felt like I was able to make a difference in

the lives of my students. I felt like more than just a teacher, I filled the role of a parent or

an older sister for many of my students. I often find myself looking at pictures of my

former students to remind myself of the positive impact that a diverse group of Orlando

high school students made on my life.









The use of a qualitative methodology allowed for the human as instrument (Guba &

Lincoln, 1981), in the retelling of the participants' career stories. While the researcher

attempted to maintain obj activity throughout data collection and data analysis, the

researcher' s prior experience as an urban agriculture teacher could have potentially

influenced the probing questions included in the interview process. However, the

researcher employed several measures that are discussed later in the chapter, in an

attempt to provide an accurate representation of the participants' career decisions and

career experiences.

Epistemology and Theoretical Perspective

Epistemology is concerned with "the nature of knowledge, its possibility, scope,

and general basis" (Hamlyn, 1995, p. 242). Constructionism recognizes that meaning

occurs as a result of our engagement with the realities in our world. As described by

Schwandt (1994), "knowledge and truth are created, not discovered by the mind" (p. 125).

A theoretical perspective is "a way of looking at the world and making sense of it.

It involves knowledge and embodies a certain understanding of what is entailed in

knowing, that is, how we know what we know" (Crotty, 2003, p.8). Constructivism was

the theoretical perspective guiding this research study. The use of constructivism focuses

on the unique experiences of each individual and acknowledges the validity of each

person's method of making sense of the world (Crotty, 2003). Through the use of in-

depth interviews, the researcher and the participants were engaged in the construction of

a narrative to detail the participants' perspectives of their teaching experiences in an

urban agriculture program. Each of the participating teachers had the opportunity to share

their distinct beliefs and individual experiences specific to their career in an urban school.









Qualitative Measures of Validity and Reliability

In quantitative research, the quality of the research is measured using the following

criteria: internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity. As Lincoln and

Guba (1985) pointed out, "criteria defined from one perspective may not be appropriate

for judging actions taken from another perspective" (p.293). Guba (1981) proposes four

criteria that are more appropriate for qualitative research: "credibility in place of internal

validity, transferability in place of external validity, dependability in place of reliability,

and confirmability in place of obj activity" (p.219).

When considering the credibility of a qualitative research inquiry, "it is assumed

that reality is constructed, multidimensional, and ever-changing; there is no such thing as

a single reality to be observed and measured. In a sense, the researcher offers his or her

interpretation of someone else' s interpretation of reality" (Merriam, 1995, p. 54).

Member checks, peer/colleague examination, and the creation of a subj activity statement

were used in order to strengthen the credibility of the current study. Prior to beginning the

study, the researcher articulated her personal experiences and biases so that the reader

would better understand the interpretation of the data. After the interviews were

transcribed, the participants were asked to complete a member check and verify the

accuracy of the transcripts. Throughout the process of axial coding and selective coding

and during the stages of theory development, a colleague scrutinized the data and

critiqued the emerging theory and research Eindings (Merriam, 1995).

Dependability seeks to ensure the findings of a study reflect the data collected from

the interview participants. In addition to using peer examinations, an audit trail was

maintained to establish consistency between the interview data and the proposed Eindings

(Merriam, 1995). The researcher documented the data collection process, the









development of the open codes, selective codes, and axial codes, the progression of

theory development, and any other decisions pertinent to the research process (Merriam,

1998).

While quantitative research stresses the importance of generalizability, the goal of

the qualitative approach is "to understand the particular in depth, rather than finding out

what is generally true of many" (Merriam, 1995, p.57). In order to achieve a sound

understanding of the research, thick description was used to detail the participants'

beliefs and experiences. The inclusion of detailed description allows readers to easily

transfer the research Eindings to comparable situations (Merriam, 1995).

Participant Selection

Purposeful sampling was used to identify and select potential interview participants

for the study. This type of sampling advocates the selection of information-rich cases for

study to provide thorough understanding and insight rather than empirical generalizations

generated by quantitative studies (Patton, 2002). More specifically, a criterion sample

(Patton, 2002) was used to select nine individuals who had graduated from a teacher

education program and had been teaching in an urban school for one to eight years. The

potential interview participants were initially contacted through email to explain the

purpose and importance of the study, the value of their participation, and the data

collection methods. After receipt of the initial email, interview dates and times were

arranged using the telephone or email. Email correspondence can be found in Appendix



Data Collection

The first step in the data collection process was to create research questions that

were appropriate for the theoretical perspective guiding this study. The use of










constructivism allowed for the participants to express their perceptions about the decision

to take a job in an urban school and continue teaching in an urban school. Also, the

inclusion of questions about the teachers' experiences in an urban school allowed them to

explain how pertinent experiences impacted their perceptions of their current careers and

future tenure in urban schools. After the interview question guide was designed and

reviewed by a panel of experts, the IRB protocol and informed consent was submitted to

IRB for approval. The interview informed consent document can be found in Appendix

D, IRB protocol approval can be found in Appendix E, and the interview question guide

can be found in Appendix F. In early February 2006, the protocol was followed in a pilot

study conducted with three middle school urban agriculture teachers. This allowed the

researcher to make appropriate modifications to probing questions that were asked in the

interviews.

For the present study, nine interviews were conducted from February April 2006.

The use of interviewing allowed the researcher to understand the experience of other

people and the meaning they construct of that experience (Seidman, 1998). Interviews

were conducted in order to describe how each teacher made meaning of their teaching

experience in an urban school. A semistructured format was used to organize the one-

hour interview. The researcher used a set of guiding questions during the interview, but

used probing questions to expand and clarify statements made by the participants (Hatch,

2002). Seven of the interviews were conducted in the teacher' s classroom. Due to

extenuating circumstances, one interview was conducted in the teacher' s home and one

interview was conducted in a restaurant selected by the teacher. With the consent of the

participants, all of the interviews were audio taped for transcription at a later time.









Data Analysis

The process of grounded theory allows for the development of theory using data

that were systematically gathered and analyzed. This method allows for the establishment

of a close connection between the data collection, analysis, and resulting theory (Strauss

& Corbin, 1998) and encourages the researcher to create a conceptual understanding of

concrete realities that were expressed during interviews (Charmaz, 2003). The use of

grounded theory offers the following benefits to a research study,

Theory derived from data is more likely to resemble "reality" than is theory derived
by putting together a series of concepts based on experience or solely through
speculation. Grounded theories, because they are drawn from the data, are likely to
offer insight, enhance understanding, and provide a meaningful guide to action
(Strauss & Corbin, 1998, p. 12).

The use of grounded theory requires a concurrent effort to collect and analyze data

in the initial stages of the research process. A benefit to this effort is that it "keeps

researchers close to their gathered data rather than to what they may have previously

assumed or wished was the case" (Charmaz, 2003, p.312).

Two different approaches to grounded theory are commonly used. When using

obj activist grounded theory, the researcher takes a positivist approach to uncover an

external reality that is already in existence. This method requires the researcher to remain

distant from the research participants and serve as an external and detached authority on

the participants and their realities (Charmaz, 2003). In contrast, the constructivist

approach to grounded theory acknowledges that the data and analysis are co-constructed

using the shared experiences of the researcher and participants. The researcher does not

seek to discover an external reality using only the collected data. Instead, the data

analysis is a reflection of researcher' s thinking which may not strictly adhere to the data

alone (Charmaz, 2003). Due to the researcher' s prior teaching experience in an urban









school, objectivist grounded theory was used to ensure that the data and analysis were a

collective representation of the participants without manipulation from the researcher.

After the data were collected and transcribed, open coding was used to break the

data down into smaller, more distinct segments that could be used to identify similarities

and differences in the data from each individual interview and across all nine interviews

(Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Once the researcher completed open codes of all the interview

data, axial coding was used to create a category that encompassed all of the codes that

were appropriately related. Finally, selective coding was used to begin integrating the

identified categories into an initial theory. The open codes, axial codes, and selective

codes generated from the data can be found in Appendix A. Memos and diagrams were

used to assist in the process of data analysis and help create a conceptual understanding

of the developed theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998).

Chapter Summary

This chapter described the research design and methods that were employed during

this study. A discussion of researcher subjectivity, theoretical perspective, measures of

validity and reliability, participant selection, data collection, and data analysis was also

included in the chapter.















CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the decisions of agriculture

teachers to teach in an urban school. At the conclusion of the transcription process, 178

pages of text were included in the data analysis process. From the data, categories

emerged specific to the teachers' decisions to teach Agricultural Education, the teachers'

decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an urban location, the experiences of the

teachers while teaching agriculture classes to urban students, and the teachers' outlook on

their teaching tenure in an urban school. The use of coding resulted in the emergence of

two selective codes relevant to teachers' initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education,

six selective codes relevant to the influences on teachers' initial decisions to teach

Agricultural Education in an urban area, eleven selective codes relevant to agriculture

teachers' current experiences in urban schools, and one selective code relevant to

agriculture teachers' outlook on their teaching tenure in an urban school. The figures

included in Appendix A depict the relationships between the open codes, axial codes, and

selective codes. Also presented in this chapter is a grounded theory to illustrate the career

experiences of the nine participants in the study.

Description of Participants

To provide more detail of the participants' backgrounds and teaching careers, brief

biographical sketches of each participant have been included below and in Table 4-1. In

an effort to protect the confidentiality of the participants, pseudonyms have been used.









Ms. Brown

Ms. Brown has always lived in a metropolitan area of Florida. She attended a

suburban high school where she was enrolled in Agricultural Education and was a

member of FFA. She completed her student teaching experience in an urban middle

school and has been teaching at her current school for three years. Currently, Ms. Brown

is teaching agriculture as a semester long elective class at an inner city, Title I school to

6th-, 7th-, and 8th- graders. In addition to her responsibilities as an agriculture teacher and

FFA advisor, Ms. Brown has served as the head track coach for the last two years.

Ms. Campbell

Ms. Campbell grew up in a suburb of a Midwestern city and never had the

opportunity to enroll in Agricultural Education as a high school student. She relocated to

Florida to attend college. She initially maj ored in Food Science and Human Nutrition, but

was encouraged by her faculty advisor to consider a career in Agricultural Education. She

completed her student teaching experience in a rural school, but has been teaching in an

urban district for five years. Ms. Campbell began her teaching career in a middle school,

where she taught for four years, before transferring to her present middle school prior to

the 2005-2006 school year.

Ms. Carter

Ms. Carter grew up in a small town and did not enroll in Agricultural Education

while in high school. After earning her bachelors degree in animal science, she worked

on a swine farm in a Midwestern state prior to earning her teaching certification. Ms.

Carter returned to the high school she attended to complete her student teaching. She first

moved to an urban area to take a position teaching agriculture as part of an exploratory

wheel to middle school students. After teaching middle school for four years, Ms. Carter










accepted a position at a high school in the same county, teaching Veterinary Assisting.

Currently, she is teaching Veterinary Assisting to 10th-12th grade students.

Mr. Hill

Mr. Hill was raised in a rural area of a Midwestern state, but did not grow up on a

farm. He was enrolled in Agricultural Education classes throughout all four years of high

school. After graduating from a land-grant institution, he worked in agribusiness for one

year then returned to the university to complete his teacher certification. His student

teaching experience was completed in a rural high school. Mr. Hill started his teaching

career at a charter middle school. After one year, he moved to his current district and has

been teaching for four years. Mr. Hill's program is an Agricultural Biotechnology magnet

program that has approximately 90 students enrolled. He teaches Agriscience

Foundations, Agricultural Biotechnology 2, Plant Biotechnology, and Animal

Biotechnology.

Ms. Fritz

Ms. Fritz was raised in a rural area, but did not grow up on a farm. She attended a

high school with a large Agricultural Education program and enrolled in an agriculture

class during her junior year of high school. During college, she changed her maj or from

animal science to Agricultural Education and completed her student teaching in a rural

school. Ms. Fritz began her teaching career at the high school where she is currently

teaching and has been there for five years. She teaches an agriculture class for

Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students, Agriscience Foundations, and Veterinary

Assisting.










Ms. Taylor

Ms. Taylor grew up in a rural area, but attended elementary school and middle

school in town because she had access to after-school care. Ms. Taylor entered a rural

high school and enrolled in an agriculture class as a freshman. While in college, she

considered maj oring in nursing, but selected a maj or in Agricultural Education. Ms.

Taylor completed her student teaching experience at the urban high school where she

currently teaches. Upon her graduation from college, Ms. Taylor moved to a western state

to work as a horse trainer. In January 2006, Ms. Taylor started her teaching career in

Florida. Her teaching responsibilities include an ESE Agriscience Foundations class,

Agriscience Foundations, and Aquaculture Foundations.

Mr. Flood

Mr. Flood was bomn and raised in a metropolitan area. In sixth grade, he enrolled in

the agriculture magnet program at the middle school where he currently teaches and

attended an agriculture magnet program during high school. He completed his student

teaching internship at an urban middle school and then returned to his hometown to

accept a teaching position. Mr. Flood has been teaching 8th grade for two years. The

magnet program in which he teaches enrolls approximately 440 of the school's 1200

middle school students. During his first year, Mr. Flood had the opportunity to teach

three exploratory agriculture classes for students in the general school population.

However, due to an increase in student numbers, he is currently only teaching magnet

students.

Mr. Gall

Mr. Gall grew up in a rural area and was a student and FFA member in a very

active Agricultural Education program. He completed his student teaching experience in










a rural high school, but relocated to an urban area to teach in a newly opened school. This

is Mr. Gall's second year of teaching. He is currently teaching Agriscience Foundations,

Agricultural Biotechnology, an ESE Agriscience Foundations course, and two sections of

Biology.

Mr. Linder

Mr. Linder grew up in a small, rural town with a rich tradition of Agricultural

Education programs and FFA involvement. He estimated that there were 21 agriculture

teachers in his hometown of 27,000 people. Mr. Linder was very active in FFA during

middle school and high school. He completed his student teaching experience at a magnet

program in an urban high school and accepted a teaching position at a new middle school

in the same urban district. Mr. Linder is in his first year of teaching and teaches a year-

long agriculture elective class to a mix of 6th-, 7th-, and 8th- graders. Currently, he has

about 190 students in his agriculture classes.

Table 4-1 Description of Participants
Name Teaching High School Student Ag Ed/FFA
Experience Attended Teaching Involvement as
(years) Location Student
Ms. Brown 3 Suburban Urban M. S. Yes
Ms. Campbell 5 Suburban Rural H.S. No
Ms. Carter 6 Rural Rural H.S. No
Mr. Hill 5 Rural Rural H.S. Yes
Ms. Fritz 5 Rural Rural H.S. Yes
Ms. Taylor 1 Rural Urban H.S. Yes
Mr. Flood 2 Urban Urban M. S. Yes
Mr. Gall 2 Rural Rural H.S. Yes
Mr. Linder 1 Rural Urban H.S. Yes



Teachers' Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education

The categories relevant to the teachers' decisions to teach Agricultural Education

included teacher background and decision to pursue teacher certification in Agricultural









Education. A framework detailing the relationships between the open codes, axial codes,

and selective codes is shown in Figure A-1. Each specific category is detailed below.

Teacher background. The category, teacher background, was comprised of three

axial codes including involvement in Agricultural Education, involvement in FFA, and

lack of involvement in Agricultural Education/FFA. All of the participating teachers who

had been enrolled in Agricultural Education in middle school and/or high school reflected

on their individual experiences in Agricultural Education and FFA. However, enrollment

in Agricultural Education and participation in FFA was not an influential factor on all of

the teachers' decisions to teach as two had not been enrolled as students.

The axial code, involvement in Agricultural Education, emerged based on the

discussion of seven participants regarding their personal experiences as Agricultural

Education students. While the paths taken to enroll in Agricultural Education were found

to be unique for all participants, Mr. Flood described the unusual circumstances that led

to his enrollment in Agricultural Education,

I landed in the class by accident. I think what happened was I was in physical
education and we had to buy a uniform and that kind of thing and a student, I think,
stole my uniform, so I didn't have anything to dress out in and I got a zero for the
day and then they had this new agriscience class but they didn't have any
enrollment so they came to us and said look some of you guys probably don't want
to be here and so we have this new class, they go on field trips and have a lot of
fun. I said sure why not. And ended up in the class. Knew nothing about
agriculture at all.

Although this participant did not have prior knowledge about agriculture, he found

the curriculum to be novel and exciting. Similarly, Mr. Hill also ended up in an 8th grade

agriculture class by chance, but his respect for the teacher and interest in the subject

matter encouraged him to enroll in high school agriculture classes,

The last nine weeks of 8th grade, we were on an exploration wheel and they stuck
me in this ag class. Everybody had to take it, but it was my last nine weeks and I










liked the teacher, I thought it was interesting. I didn't grow up on a farm, I mean I
grew up in the country, but it wasn't by any means farming and I just liked the way
the classroom was. I liked the teacher and realized that was a good place for me.

Another teacher who was recruited into a high school agriculture class by her friend

revealed that she "loved ag class" and "loved being around the animals." Mr. Hill felt a

sense of comfort and security that was established through strong bonds with the one

agriculture teacher that he had for four years and referred to his Agricultural Education

class as a "home base."

The seven former Agricultural Education students also discussed their involvement

in FFA. In the hometown of Mr. Linder, "FFA is very, very big and basically dominates

the culture." In this same community, there was an expectation for high-achieving

students to "just j oin FFA." Ms. Brown touted her former FFA chapter as an "amazing

FFA program." The seven participants took part in a variety of FFA activities ranging

from competing in Career Development Events (CDEs), to showing livestock, to serving

as a chapter FFA officer and as a state FFA officer. One participant even credited her

FFA involvement for "forming who I am today." The prior experiences that these seven

participants had in Agricultural Education and FFA influenced their decisions to teach

Agricultural Education.

In contrast, two of the participants never enrolled in an agriculture class while they

were in school. For Ms. Campbell, there was never an opportunity to take an agriculture

class. Due to the increasing urbanization of her hometown, the agriculture program was

eliminated prior to her entry into high school. Ms. Carter had aspirations of becoming a

veterinarian, but expressed a lack of knowledge about the course offerings, "no one ever

talked to me about FFA or agriculture" and a lack of interest in large animals, "I didn't

want to have anything to do with cows or pigs." Consequently, she never enrolled in the










agriculture classes offered at her high school. These participants' lack of experience in

Agricultural Education and FFA did not deter their decisions to become an agriculture

teacher. Both participants were encouraged to pursue a teaching certificate by faculty

advisors, which will be discussed later in the chapter.

Decision to pursue teacher certification in Agricultural Education. The

category, decision to pursue teacher certification in Agricultural Education, was

comprised of three axial codes including opportunity to work with kids and animals,

influence of agriculture teacher, and influence of college advisor. Several of the

participants anticipated the opportunities a career in Agricultural Education would afford

them to work with an audience of interest, either children or animals. Also,

recommendations and advice from former agriculture teachers and college advisors

encouraged the teachers to prepare for a teaching career.

Two of the participants credited their love of children for their decision to pursue a

teaching career in Agricultural Education. Ms. Brown stated, "basically the key thing is

that I enj oy being around kids" and Ms. Taylor described her lasting affinity for working

with children, "I've always loved kids. Children are my passion". When considering

obtaining a degree in education, Mr. Hill thought that as an agriculture teacher he could

make the biggest difference in the lives of his students, "if I want to influence children,

where else can you do it except in the ag classroom because you see them for four years.

You don't see those kids in an English classroom or a math classroom." Ms. Carter

thought teaching agriculture would allow her to interact with animals, "I wanted to teach

animal science because even though I wasn't going to be a vet, I still wanted to work with

animals."









Former agriculture teachers made a lasting impact on five of the participants and

helped shape the participants' career decisions. While Mr. Flood was enrolled in

agricultural education for seven years, he initially had no intention of becoming a teacher,

yet, his Agriculture Education teacher' s promotion of teaching influenced Mr. Flood' s

career choice,

Up until my senior year of (high school), I had no interest in teaching at all, but
after talking to several of my agriculture teachers who kind of convinced me or
kind of gave me some of the benefits of teaching ag...I thought what a better thing
to do than teach agriculture?

While wrestling with the decision of what to do at the conclusion of high school,

Ms. Brown consulted with her agriculture teacher and took his advice,

One day I went to my agriculture teacher and said I don't know what I want to do
when I graduate and he told me, you should be an agriculture teacher. I was like are
you serious? That changed me. I decided, okay this is what I want to do.

Three additional participants described the positive impact and lasting impression

that their agriculture teachers made on their lives. As described by Mr. Linder, "my

teacher really inspired me, he believed in me and treated me like I had never been treated

before."

College advisors were responsible for the transition of three participants from other

maj ors or careers into the Agricultural Education maj or. Ms. Carter had already been

working on a pig farm in another state when she became interested in the possibility of

becoming an agriculture teacher and contacted a faculty member in the Agricultural

Education department, "and told him I was interested in maybe teaching ... we talked on

email and said what I needed to do, how I need to get certified, so I just decided to do

that." For Ms. Fritz, her work experience made her realize she was pursuing the wrong

career path, "I was going to go into the dairy industry and the more I worked at the dairy









research unit, the more I realized I did not want to be on a dairy." Her faculty advisor in

the Agricultural Education department assisted her in developing a schedule that would

allow her to complete her teacher certification in a reasonable amount of time. Ms.

Campbell had always considered becoming a teacher, but she was concerned that she

would be "stuck in a classroom." When she was contemplating a possible maj or change,

Ms. Campbell's advisor from the Food Science and Human Nutrition department

happened to be a former agriculture teacher and suggested that she consider teaching

Agricultural Education. Since Ms. Campbell had no prior experience in Agricultural

Education, her advisor recommended that she visit a few agriculture programs. While

visiting the programs, Ms. Campbell realized that teaching Agricultural Education did not

adhere to her initial perception of teaching and appealed to her as a future career,

The moment I walked in, I was hooked. I was like these kids are outside, they're
getting their hands dirty. Oh my gosh, it' s hands-on, this is perfect, this is everyday
life, that's where I want to be.

The opportunity to work with a particular audience of interest and encouragement

from a former agriculture teacher or a college advisor encouraged the participants to

pursue teacher certification in Agricultural Education.

Teachers' Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education in Urban Schools

The six categories relevant to the teacher' s decisions to teach Agricultural

Education in an urban school included prior experience in urban schools, desired

location, decision to teach in a particular school, level of influence from family,

participants' perceptions of urban schools, and participants' perceptions of Agricultural

Education in rural schools. A framework detailing the relationships between the open

codes, axial codes, and selective codes is shown in Figure A-2. Each specific category is

detailed below.









Prior experience in urban schools. The category of prior experience in urban

schools consisted of the axial codes including no prior experience, "guest" experience,

and internship experience. Two of the participants stated that they did not have any prior

experiences in urban schools. Mr. Hill and Mr. Gall both grew up in rural areas and

completed student teaching internships in rural schools.

Several of the participants gained exposure to urban schools through various "guest

experiences". While Ms. Campbell and Ms. Fritz completed their student teaching in

rural schools, they participated in an Agricultural Education field trip to urban schools.

Ms. Brown took the initiative to visit other inner-city schools and urban schools while

looking for a job in the urban county where she currently teaches. Mr. Linder spent about

three weeks volunteering in urban schools to gain some initial experience in an urban

classroom. The participants did not reflect on the impact of this "guest" experience on

their eventual career decision.

Four of the participants had the opportunity to complete their student teaching

experience in an urban school. For Ms. Taylor, she returned to teach in the same urban

program where she completed her student teaching. Mr. Linder described the impact that

his student teaching experience in an urban school had on his eventual career decision,

My original plan, up until student teaching, was to go to (state) and teach there. I
student taught and I just liked it a lot, way more than I thought I would. I thought it
was very, very productive. I thought the FFA was even better than I realized, as a
teacher. I enjoyed it a lot more because I was able to see it from a different
perspective how much children can be helped by it.

Ms. Brown felt that the exposure she had to students with "different ethnic backgrounds"

helped prepare her for an urban teaching position. While not all of the participants

correlated their internship experience in an urban school with their decision to teach in an









urban school, their internship experience did not discourage them from seeking a

teaching position in an urban program.

Desired Location. The category of desired location was comprised of the

following axial codes: desired teaching location and desired living location. The

environment where the participants wanted to live combined with the location of the

school resulted in the teachers' desired locations to look for j ob opportunities.

Four of the participants expressed a desire to live in an urban area due to their prior

experience in an urban area, their reluctance to live in a rural area, or for a change from

their current living location. Ms. Brown expressed her preference for a city lifestyle, "I

like living in the city, I don't want to be living out in the middle of nowhere." Ms. Fritz

also wanted to avoid moving to a rural area, "I don't want to be in a big farming area."

Mr. Hill thought that relocating to an urban area would be a "neat place" in closer

proximity to the ocean and would offer a better climate, "I just got tired of the snow." As

well, Ms. Carter couldn't specifically explain what led her to seek employment in a city,

but noted "I just wanted to get away from where I grew up." Even though Ms. Carter,

who teaches in Orlando, was eager to move away from her hometown, she would have

been reluctant to move to certain cities in Florida, "Orlando is a big city, but it' s not

really a big city...Miami would scare me." One participant, who teaches in Miami,

explained that he would have never imagined himself living in an urban area, "I didn't

really want to be a part of it. Like when I think about really metropolitan urban areas, like

downtown Miami and New York City, LA, I still can't see myself living in those places."

He further explained that he did not want to live in close proximity to others, "When you

grow up on a farm and your closest neighbor besides your grandma is a half a mile away,









having somebody to the right and left and above and below, that is kind of restrictive. "

Eventually, this participant decided to move to an urban center to teach a specific

curriculum offering, which will be discussed later in the chapter.

Decision to teach in a particular school. The category decision to teach in a

particular school was comprised of the following seven axial codes: the need for an

agriculture teacher, influence of agriculture supervisor, influence of other teacherss,

curriculum offerings, professional network, social network, and personal control.

Six of the participants responded to the publicized need for an agriculture teacher.

At her first school, Ms. Campbell was compelled to take the job because the "program

was being threatened to close." The position at another school was "posted for two or

three years" before Ms. Brown accepted the j ob. Ms. Taylor felt the other agriculture

teachers "needed my help" after another agriculture teacher left the school early in the

academic year. Although Mr. Hill attended college in a Midwestern state, he learned

about the j ob opportunities in Florida through a j ob posting board,

I walked through the hallways at (land grant institution) and they had postings for
the teaching jobs and there was a job in Orlando...I said, you know that' s a good
idea, maybe I'll just teach in Orlando or maybe I'll just teach in Florida.

Four of the participants discussed the influence of the Agricultural Education

supervisor in their respective school districts. Ms. Carter described the effective

recruiting strategies used by the supervisor in her county, "I think (supervisor' s name)

was one of the main reasons that I came to (city). She contacted me, she was very helpful,

and she sold the program in the county." Mr. Gall was recruited by the county supervisor

during his student teaching experience and the supervisor "took me to a couple different

schools", one of the three schools that the participant visited is where he eventually

accepted a teaching position. These participants would not have been aware of the










teaching possibilities in urban counties without the communication from the county

supervisor.

Five of the participants taught in single teacher departments, while only three of the

participants were teachers in a two-teacher agriculture department and one of the

participants worked with four other agriculture teachers. Two of the participants were

attracted to an urban school through the influence of the other teacherss. When

interviewing for the teaching position at her current school, Ms. Fritz had the chance to

meet the other agriculture teacher who made the position "very attractive. He offered me

class choices on whatever I wanted to teach. He said you can coach whichever FFA

teams. I knew I would have a lot of choices and options for what I wanted to do here."

Ms. Taylor considered her colleagues, "awesome people to work with" and stated, "I

chose to come here because I chose to work with the kind of people that work here." This

level of comfort with the other teachers) made the urban teaching positions appealing for

the participants.

Three of the participants wanted to teach specific curricula that were not offered in

all Agricultural Education programs. Due to his interest in plant biotechnology, Mr.

Flood knew he would have limited j ob opportunities,

I knew that the track that I wanted to teach was plant biotechnology and I pretty
much knew that if I wanted to teach that, I was going to have to go to a more urban
setting because most of the rural schools were still very traditional in their program
tracks.

Although he had been a student in a production-focused agriculture class in a rural area,

Mr. Hill thought he would be well-suited for his teaching position because "it was very

science based and not necessarily your traditional agriculture program." Ms. Carter

believed teaching the vet science curriculum would be the "perfect job" due to her love of









animals. The ability for urban schools to offer very specialized curriculums assisted in the

recruitment of the three participants.

An established professional network helped three participants transition into their

teaching career in an urban school. Ms. Campbell credited the success of her first year to

teachers she had become acquainted with during her teacher preparation program, "I was

very fortunate that some teachers here are some teachers I had classes with, so I already

had some teacher base or some help. If it wasn't for them...the first year would not have

been successful." She also appreciated the guidance she received from the other middle

school agriculture teachers in the county when she was planning her curriculum. Mr.

Flood returned to teach in the middle school that he attended because "my mentors were

here." He also felt the school would be an ideal place to teach because "I'd have a lot of

support in this school versus going to a school where I didn't know anybody and start

from scratch." The reassurance of having an established professional network helped ease

the fears of these new teachers.

Mr. Flood also described the comfort of having an established social network in the

city where he returned to work. Although he considered teaching jobs in another urban

location, he felt "compelled to come back" to this particular city because "I've always

had family down here and my whole life is down here." Also, the idea of relocating to a

new and unfamiliar area concerned Mr. Flood. He explained, "getting started and not

really having much to start with, it would be very difficult for me to make a living in

(city), not ever being from (city) or having anybody there who could help me out."

Mr. Gall and Mr. Hill felt that the opportunity to be a single teacher in a new

program allowed them a great deal of personal control. Mr. Gall liked that he would be










responsible for the success or failure of the program without having any established

expectations created by the former agriculture teacher,

I wanted basically to start my own program that I could say at the end if it was a
success, then that was not because of what was already there. If it was a failure then
it was my failure. I wasn't being set up for failure by a previous teacher. I knew
there weren't really many opportunities for that, usually you have to deal with the
teacher before that was great or the teacher before that was horrible.

Mr. Hill also believed that students benefited from the exclusive rapport they could

establish and maintain with one agriculture teacher, "I feel like the kids, even though they

are getting more opportunities at these big schools who have seven ag teachers, I feel like

those kids are missing out a little bit too because they're not developing those strong

bonds necessarily with one teacher." The expansion of Agricultural Education programs

in urban areas allowed these two participants the opportunity to be the sole Agriculture

Education teacher in a brand new program.

The participants cited a variety of factors that compelled then to seek employment

in a specific urban school. These factors included the response to a publicized need for an

agriculture teacher, the influence of the agriculture supervisor for the county, recruitment

from the other teacherss, the opportunity to teach a particular curriculum, the existence

of a professional and social network, and personal control over the program.

Level of influence from family. The category level of influence from family was

comprised of axial codes including experiences of family, support from family, and

opinions of family. Only Ms. Brown discussed the career experiences that her family

members had in urban areas, "My mom taught in an inner-city school so that kind of got

me prepared. My brother works in inner-city Miami as a police officer." Not even the

"horror stories" that her mother had from her teaching career in an urban school, deterred

Ms. Brown from obtaining employment in an inner-city school.









The families of three of the participants were quite surprised by their decisions to

become Agricultural Education teachers. Members of Ms. Campbell's family even made

jokes about her career choice, "my mother's joke was, what you are going to teach cows

how to read?" Her family members were also unaware of the j ob responsibilities

associated with teaching agriculture and inquired, "What are you going to do in teaching

agriculture?" The family of Mr. Gall, "thought I had lost my mind when I said I wanted

to be a teacher in the first place" and Ms. Brown's mother "was quite surprised when I

said I wanted to be an agriculture teacher." The families of these participants seemed so

shocked at the career choice of these participants that they did not question their desire to

teach in an urban school.

Even though the families of some of the participants questioned their career paths,

several of the participants felt their families were supportive of their decisions to move to

a city. While Mr. Hill's mother "was a little bit sad in her own way", she supported her

son's relocation because she "wanted me to do whatever was going to make me happy."

The families of Ms. Carter and Mr. Gall did not express any opinions about life in an

urban area but were concerned about the distance from home. As Mr. Gall explained, "for

my family it was a matter of being six hours away. I'd never lived that far away since I

grew up literally 45 minutes from where I attended college." Only Ms. Fritz described

how her parents tried to reverse her decision to teach in an urban school,

My parents wanted me at a rural school. They wanted me at (name of rural high
school), they wanted me at (name of rural high school) because they thought I
would be happiest there. The perception is that if you teach agriculture, you need to
go where agriculture teachers belong. That was their perception.

Mr. Hill and Mr. Gall also described how the support of their spouses allowed them

to accept teaching positions in urban schools. The wife of Mr. Gall had already been










accepted to a master' s program at the University of Florida. When the participant initially

interviewed at his current school, his wife "sat in on my interview and agreed to apply to

a local university. That was one of her biggest drawbacks to moving down." Mr. Hill

expressed his surprise at the decision of his girlfriend (now wife) to move from the

Midwest to a city in Florida,

She just up and moved. She's crazy. I have no idea why she moved with me. I
guess she loved me. Guess she just wanted to adventure. We were kids, we were
young and we had lived a simple life and we just wanted some adventure.

The families of the participants had minimal input on their decisions to teach in urban

areas. This implied support of the family made it easier for the participants to relocate or

return to urban areas for a teaching position.

Participants' perceptions of urban schools. The category teachers' perceptions of

urban schools consisted of axial codes including perceptions of school environment,

perceived student interest in FFA, and expectations of student demographics. Four of the

participants shared the perceptions of urban schools that they had prior to starting to teach

in urban schools. The perceptions they previously held focused on the school

environment and student demographics. When considering the school environment, Mr.

Linder thought it "could be more challenging" to teach in an urban school and "more

difficult than working with a bunch of country white folks like myself." Ms. Taylor

predicted that her school "would have more problems inside" and "would be a whole lot

rougher." She felt that teaching at her current school would adequately prepare her to

teach at other schools in the future, "my philosophy is, if you can teach at a rough school,

you can teach anywhere."

Two of the participants believed that urban programs would not have much FFA

involvement and were surprised at the student interest in FFA. Ms. Fritz was impressed









with all the activities in which FFA members participated, "...there was one point where

I remember being surprised that there was as much FFA interest as there was. The other

teacher would start telling me about the stuff that they did and I was like, Wow! "

Likewise, Mr. Hill found that his students were eager to take part in FFA activities such

as land judging,

One of the things that I thought was surprising was that kids were willing to jump
on the FFA scenario...they were willing to participate in things like land judging
where you are digging a hole and going outside and so I think it surprised me, their
willingness to participate.

Unfortunately, not all of the participants found it so easy to secure student participation in

FFA.

In relation to student demographics, Ms. Brown thought "being White was going to

be hard for me because 85% of our school is Black. That kind of intimidated me, I guess.

I thought there would be problems and I've never had a problem." Mr. Hill did not

"expect the ethnic diversity, maybe naively I thought that there would be more white

people." He expressed his initial shock at his first experience with feeling like the

minority, "my first day of school, homeroom is first here at (school name) and I was the

only White person in the room. I wasn't ready for that. I wasn't expecting that." While

the participants had some preconceived ideas about the school environment, student

interest in FFA, and student demographics, their perceptions failed to discourage them

from accepting employment in an urban school.

Participants' perceptions of Agricultural Education in rural schools. The

category participants' perceptions of Agricultural Education in rural schools consisted of

axial codes including perceptions of rural students and perceptions of rural schools. Four

of the participants questioned their own ability to teach in a rural school because they felt









rural students would be more knowledgeable than the teacher about agriculture due to the

students' likely involvement in production agriculture. As Ms. Fritz explained,

If I had gone to a rural school, I would have had all those kids telling me what I
needed to know. They would have all known more than me about producing a steer
or if I'm trying to talk about landscaping in class, there's going to be somebody in
there who's been doing that since they were young. They're going to know more
than I do.

Although he was raised in an rural area, but not on a farm, Mr. Hill felt more comfortable

teaching in a city school because he thought most of the students would possess little

prior knowledge about agriculture,

One thing that I guess made me feel better about teaching in an urban school was
just maybe the ignorance of the students when it comes to agriculture and that
anything was educational to them versus if I'm in rural (state) teaching and I want
to talk about a moldboard plow, well everyone in the room knows what it is.

Mr. Hill was concerned that if he did teach in a rural school, "there was going to be some

kids sitting there knowing more than I did." Ms. Brown, who was raised in a city, echoed

the previous statement,

Like schools like (school names), it just didn't interest me. It' s like you have all
these kids that have an agricultural and farming background. I was never raised on
a farm and it just bothers me that maybe the kids know more than me. Like over the
weekend, I went to the state fair and kind of helped with the dairy skill-a-thon and I
never knew how to tag a cow and the kids taught me how to tag a cow. I just think,
hey I'm an ag teacher, I should know how to do that.

Contrary to the beliefs of the aforementioned participants, when Mr. Flood had the

opportunity to work with rural students, he found "many students in the rural programs

surprisingly just didn't know anything about agriculture." Mr. Gall also felt that "even in

rural areas there' s ignorance about the breadth of agriculture. People just see what' s out

in the fields and they associate that with agriculture."

Ms. Carter elaborated on her perception of the role of FFA in the agriculture

curriculum at a rural school compared to an urban school. She felt that "some rural










programs were relying too much on FFA" and some rural teachers consider themselves to

be "an FFA teacher" whereas she is "an ag teacher." Ms. Carter also mentioned how

some of the emphasis on FFA is a result of parent expectations, "If I were sent to a rural

school, I would be expected by the parents to be an FFA teacher. Well, where's this team,

where' s this team, where's this team..." In contrast, Mr. Linder thought it would be much

easier to establish an active FFA program in a rural area because "the principal's

probably been in FFA." The participants' perceptions of rural students and rural schools

encouraged their decision to teach Agricultural Education in an urban area.

Teachers' Experiences while Teaching in Urban Schools

The current experiences of an agriculture teacher in an urban school can influence

their eventual decision to remain teaching at their current school, depart for another

teaching position or even consider a new career path. The categories that emerged from

the data specific to the participants' experiences while teaching in an urban school

included benefits to the teacher, contribution of cultural diversity to the classroom

environment, level of parental support, administrative support for Agricultural Education,

administrative obstacles to teacher vision, Agricultural Education curriculum in urban

schools, value of Agricultural Education to urban students, FFA in urban schools,

obstacles to FFA involvement, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban

schools, and school characteristics. A framework detailing the relationships between the

open codes, axial codes and selective codes is shown in Figure A-3. Each specific

category is detailed below.

Benefits to the teacher. The category benefits to the teacher were comprised of

three axial codes including urban teachers can separate personal life from professional

life, personal rewards, and collaboration with other agriculture teachers. Ms. Brown










appreciated that she could "leave the students at the end of the day" and "go home and

have another life." If she had decided to teach in an rural area, Ms. Carter thought that

she would not be able to achieve a division between her personal life and her career. She

further explained, "at a small school you are under a microscope whereas in a large

school there is more autonomy and less parental pressure. In a small school, parents

expect Agricultural Education to be your life." The two participants valued the ability to

isolate their personal life from their professional life and determine their level of

engagement in the community.

Two participants shared opinions about the personal rewards they received from

teaching in an urban school. Ms. Brown found her interaction with students to be

gratifying,

I guess I can tell just everyday that I make a change. I feel like I make a difference
in somebody's life. A lot of the kids, they don't have families at home, so they look
to me like I'm their mom...I can see why because either the mom or dad is in jail
or you're raised by grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles.

Mr. Linder enjoyed the urban environment and emphasized how "fun" it was to "teach

and live in an urban area." Such personal rewards made it very satisfying for the two

participants to work in an urban location.

Three of the participants discussed the support and assistance they received from

other agriculture teachers, either in their school or within their county. Ms. Brown, a

middle school teacher, appreciated the assistance she received from a high school

agriculture teacher, "he' s awesome and I get a lot of good stuff from him" and the

exchange of ideas with another middle school teacher, "I'm really close with (teacher

name), me and her have always shared ideas and she always has good ideas." In Ms.

Campbell's school district, informal meetings were held among the middle school










agriculture teachers to plan for FFA events, welcome new agriculture teachers to the

county, share lesson plans and curriculum ideas, and locate appropriate resources and

materials. She elaborated on the benefit of these meetings,

at the beginning of the year, we always try to have the middle school ag teachers
meet. The big thing is all of us work together about sub-districts because we always
put on one big event. So we always talk about that. And then we
always...especially with new teachers, we try and introduce all of ourselves. We
also bring in lesson plans and ideas and make sure we are all using the same book
we need to, so we do some curriculum alignment across the board and if
something's working here, why isn't it working there, what can you do different,
swap, and exchange lesson plans...pool resources and materials because (teacher
name) has this whole shed of knowledge, I need to check out this and borrow that.
You have your veteran teachers who have been doing it for 30 years and knows
what works and doesn't work.

Knowing that another agriculture teacher would always being willing to help was

reassuring to Ms. Taylor, "There's a lot of assistance, like if I need help with something,

it is readily available, somebody will help me." While only two of the participants

identified the existence of a professional network as an influence on their decision to

teach in an urban school, several participants discussed the personal benefits that resulted

from collaboration with other agriculture teachers in the county.

Contribution of cultural diversity to the classroom environment. The category

contribution of cultural diversity to the classroom environment was comprised of the

axial codes cultural diversity of students, teacher appreciation of cultural diversity, and

contribution of individual student culture to the classroom. All of the schools were

composed of students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Mr. Linder estimated his

school to be "98% minority." Mr. Gall and Ms. Carter reported a high enrollment of

Hispanic students. At Mr. Gall's school, approximately "84% of the students were

Hispanic" while Ms. Carter estimated that half (n=1750) of the student body at her school

were Hispanic. At both Ms. Brown and Mr. Hill's schools, over 75% of the student










population was African American. The cultural diversity of the general student

population was reflected in most of the participants' classes. Mr. Flood noted the

importance of recognizing students' individual heritage, "Some of everybody is here.

There's a Venezuelan, and a Honduran, a Cuban, a Puerto Rican, a Jamaican, and no one

wants to be grouped with anybody else." He also stressed the importance of

"understanding the different cultures and why students do the things they do and why

parents behave the way they do sometimes."

Three of the participants felt that the cultural diversity of their students was a

valuable asset to both the teacher and the students. Ms. Brown appreciated "hearing about

different places" and "learning about different cultures." Ms. Campbell and Mr. Linder

also enjoyedd the diversity of urban students." These three teachers explained how the

incorporation of the various backgrounds of the students improved their classroom

curriculum. Several of Ms. Brown's students shared about their families involvement in

agriculture in Puerto Rico, "I've had a few kids that lived on farms in Puerto Rico...their

experiences help out a lot, bringing that in here." Students in Ms. Campbell's classroom

also shared about agriculture from their cultural perspective, "because you are in (city)

and you have every single race possible, that enhances culture. It's really neat agricultural

wise...this is how my grandparents or great-grandparents did this or this is how we've

done this, my culture, my history. When the students in Mr. Linder' s class completed

horticulture demonstrations, he encouraged them to draw upon their cultural heritage,

I specifically told them that one of their main advantages that they have over
country white folks like me is to bring a dish or technique or something that is used
in their home country. I don't really even know my heritage 100% and these kids
are either first or second generation from whatever country they're from.










The participants found that their personal interest in cultural diversity and the mix of

cultures among their students was an asset to the classroom environment.

Level of parental support. The category level of parental support was comprised

of the axial codes including low level of parental support and high level of parental

support. There was an evident disparity in the parental involvement at some schools

compared to others. Ms. Brown tried unsuccessfully to get the parents involved with the

FFA chapter, "I tried the first two years to have a parent FFA meeting. I've seen other

chapters have parent meetings, but that doesn't work here. The only way to get a parent

out here is to have some kind of feast." Not only was Ms. Brown frustrated by a lack of

parental interest in FFA, she was surprised at their disinterest in the education of their

children, "I'm amazed by parents, lack of parent support here and even with field trips,

it' s so hard to get any kind of parent out here."

Mr. Flood had a much different experience with the level of parental involvement.

He explained the tremendous amount of support that parents provided to the school,

parents are here all the time. I think that these are the types of parents who are pro-
education for their students. No matter what, it's for their child and it involves me
having to come out here on a Saturday and help out, they're usually here.

It is important to note that this overwhelming support was provided by the parents of the

magnet students at Mr. Flood's school. When teaching an exploratory class for the

general student population, Mr. Flood faced struggles with parental involvement, similar

to what was described by Ms. Brown. He attributed this difference to the work schedules

of parents, "My parents in the standard program are parents who are working all day,

can't come in."

Administrative support for Agricultural Education. Most of the participants

were positive about the amount of support that was provided to the program by their










principals. However, Ms. Brown explained how the level of administrative support

increased when her first principal left the school. She doubted that the first principal

"would have hired me" and thought "that he didn't want agriculture." In contrast, Ms.

Brown' s current principal "really supports the ag program" and "really enj oys what I do."

Mr. Gall credited his principal's "farming background" and previous administrative

experience at a high school with a very traditional agriculture program for the support of

his current program.

Mr. Flood explained how his administration was extremely supportive of the

program because they considered FFA to be a retention tool for students in the magnet

program. When Mr. Flood offered to cancel a trip to an FFA event because it was being

held a few days before the FCAT (standardized exam), his principal responded, "No,

whatever keeps those kids happy and in the program."

Two participants shared the methods they used to try and garner the support of their

principals. Ms. Carter and her FFA officers met with the principal to "do a song and

dance" and share information about the agriculture program and FFA. Due to his concern

abut standardized testing, the principal was more interested in "Well, how is your class

affecting FCAT scores? What are you doing strategically for FCAT?" In return, Ms.

Carter provided her principal with a chart that displayed the FCAT performance of all her

students. Ms. Brown tried to gain the support of her principal by integrating other

subj ects into her curriculum, "there is science and I am doing math and I am doing

reading and doing all this stuff, so I want you to keep me". These two participants found

that documenting their efforts to include other curriculum subj ect areas and prepare

students for FCAT were helpful in obtaining additional support from their principals.









The level of support from assistant principals was deemed important by three of the

participants. Even while Ms. Brown struggled with her principal, her assistant principal

was "really, really, really, supportive. Without him I wouldn't be able to do anything."

She further explained how her assistant principal made an effort to learn more about

Agricultural Education,

The assistant principal, he' s kind of got a clue of everything that' s going on. He's
gone and visited schools with me. He's gone to FFA events with me, he's gone to
workshops and stuff like that with me, so he kind of has a clue of what is involved.
He's gone over and seen several schools.

Likewise, when Mr. Linder was trying to start his FFA chapter and encountered

some initial reluctance from his principal, he found support from his assistant principal

who had been at another middle school with an active FFA chapter and had "a very

positive image in his mind of what FFA is and what agriscience is." One of Ms. Fritz 's

assistant principals had been one of the agriculture teachers at that school and was very

helpful with the agriculture facilities, especially when Ms. Fritz encountered problems

with the greenhouse. Many of the participants communicated more frequently with an

assistant principal than a principal and found the assistant principals to be very supportive

of the program.

Administrative obstacles to teacher vision. The category administrative obstacles

to teacher vision was comprised of six axial codes including administrative transition,

administration' s vision for the program, lead teacher' s vision for the program, county

supervisor' s vision for program, absence of appropriate equipment and supplies, and

misperceptions at district level. The five participants that had been teaching for over three

years expressed high levels of administrative turnover. In Mr. Hill's school, "we have

seven administrators in the front office, one of them was here on my first day. In (my)










Hyve years (here), we will have completely rolled over the administration, some of them

more than once." For Ms. Brown, the departure of her first principal was seen as

fortunate because the replacement principal was much more supportive of the agriculture

program. However, in Ms. Carter's school, the principal who was instrumental in the

implementation of the vet science curriculum was replaced by a principal who was not

perceived to have a vested interest in the success of the agriculture program. This rapid

rate of administrative turnover made it difficult for the participants to maintain consistent

levels of administrative support.

Three of the participants faced challenges related to the principal's vision for the

program. Mr. Hill's principal had been a former agriculture teacher at the school and

looked at the program from "a definite production agriculture side. He feels that there

needs to be more outside, getting dirty here. He feels that these kids that are even from

this area can gain something from learning a little bit about hard work." Yet, Mr. Hill

desired to have an agriscience curriculum that was relevant to the students, so he

challenged the vision of his principal,

I say we are not going to raise cows in the ghetto. I just tell him that's not where
this program is going. This is a magnet program and if you get a kid to ride the
school bus for two hours and then he goes home and tells mommy that we were
outside playing in the garden all day...I think that' s going to cause some problems.

When she started teaching at her current school, Ms. Brown was looking forward to

keeping animals on campus to supplement her curriculum. She valued the experience she

gained from working with animals while she was a student in Agricultural Education and

hoped to provide her students with a similar opportunity. However, the principal would

not allow animals on campus which "crushed her a bit."










In addition to principals, other administrators can have an impact on the vision of

the program. The vision that Mr. Gall's lead teacher had for the agriculture program

caused her to question the necessity of an agriculture class. Mr. Gall described his

attempts to educate her about the importance of agriculture to the county and to the state,

She's been a real challenge to try and educate on what I'm trying to do as far as
what the vision of where the program should be going. She sees the program as
very, very traditional. Once she said that her grandfather grew up on a farm and
grew tomatoes in his backyard, so she knew what agriculture was. She told me one
time that she didn't really understand why they started my program because there
wasn't any agriculture in (county) so there was no need for jobs, for students to be
trained in agriculture. When I told her there was, (county) was number two in
receipts for agricultural sales, she said that didn't really matter because there wasn't
any agriculture in Florida.

When planning facilities and ordering supplies, Mr. Hill's county supervisor had a

different perspective on what was needed in the program. Mr. Hill desired to have an

innovative agriscience program, while the county supervisor was perceived as trying to

establish a program similar to other programs that were already in the county. Mr. Hill

further explained,

I think we still hold on to that this is the way that it' s always been idea. Just like
when my supervisor, who is a great man, was wanting to build this school, he had
on his plans, this is the way that it' s always been done, so we have got to have it.
We've always had drill presses, so you need one. He wanted to give me a welder
and I said I'm not going to be splicing genes with a welder, so I don't know why I
need one.

With his knowledge of plant molecular biology, Mr. Gall was looking forward to

teaching plant biotechnology. When he arrived at his school he found that there was an

absence of appropriate equipment and supplies to begin the program that he had

envisioned,

It wasn't really set up to be a biotechnology lab. It was kind of like the view of
what plant biotechnology was supposed to be, very limited around plant tissue
culture and that was pretty much it. Even then a lot of the equipment that was
ordered was not even sufficient to teach that.










Mr. Gall had a different idea of the essential equipment, "When I think about plant

biotechnology, I think about genetic engineering and transformation and analyzing DNA

and the equipment to do that", but the necessary equipment had not been ordered by the

admini strati on.

Mr. Gall also shared the misperceptions that county level administrators had about

the potential careers in the agricultural industry, which was evident when they created a

proposed list of career academies,

they did include agricultural science..., it was an academy in basically food and
agriculture related...the first option was a culinary option...the other one was
agriculture. The first career that they listed there was farming and not as agriculture
production or anything but farming. That's just not, from a marketing standpoint,
that' s not very good because of the agriculture illiteracy of the public, but also that
is very unrepresentative of what career paths are available for students in an
agricultural career. There was no mention of the science, the biotechnology,
geomatics.

This publication reinforced the perception that students who enroll in agriculture classes

are preparing to be farmers, which was a stereotype that Mr. Gall was trying to overcome

in his urban classroom.

Several obstacles including administrative transition, the principal's vision for the

Agricultural Education program, the lead teacher' s vision for the program, and the

absence of appropriate equipment and supplies hindered the teacher' s vision for the

Agricultural Education program.

Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools. The category Agricultural

Education curriculum in urban schools was comprised of axial codes including teacher

flexibility within school restrictions, student-centered curriculum, and curriculum

content. As previously mentioned, Ms. Brown was eager to teach about animal science,

but her principal would not allow animals to be housed on the school campus. Although









she was initially discouraged by this administrative mandate, it did not deter Ms. Brown

from going "gung ho about plants" and focusing on horticulture and aquaculture. She

realized that "we are going a different route because I can't have the barn I really thought

I would have."

Ms. Fritz and Mr. Linder stressed the importance of a student-centered curriculum

in an urban Agricultural Education program. Mr. Linder involved his students in

curriculum planning by asking for their input on what they would like to learn about

specific topics, "The first thing I do before I'm going to teach about plants, animals, or

the environment is I ask them what they want to know. Then I just combine that with

what I think they should know." Ms. Fritz described her goals for trying to make the

curriculum more relevant for her students,

I'm trying to get a dog grooming business going here because I feel like that's the
future of agriculture at (school) and this area, it' s getting the kids working with
small animals. I don't think the future is there in those cows and stuff...I think the
focus as far as me appealing to the masses of this student population, it' s going to
have to be through the small animals stuff. Most of my kids, 90% of my kids have
never been within five feet of a bovine animal in their life. Probably never will be
after they leave my class. But 80 to 85% of them have a cat or dog at home. I think
it' s making agriculture relatable to those kids and it's not through production.
Definitely not in the urban area.

Through his teaching experience, Mr. Flood learned the importance of having a practical

application so students could comprehend and retain the subj ect matter,

I don't have the resources to have large animals here or a very large animal facility,
so it's very hard for me to convey my message when I don't have anything for
students to apply it to. And I'm learning that as the year goes by that I need to...if
I'm going to teach something I need to have an application. That' s the purpose of
me teaching an applied science, if the students can be able to apply what they're
learning somewhere else. And when I was teaching last year, I was teaching more
production. I was teaching the production of large animals...I talked about the beef
industry, the hog industry and I had nothing to apply it to. I felt like it just went
through one ear and out the other for some students.










Mr. Gall and Mr. Linder also offered their opinions on the appropriate curriculum content

for urban schools. Mr. Linder discussed the importance of making the subj ect matter

relevant to the students, while incorporating traditional agriculture, "I mean I think it is

important to work in traditional agriculture. That can't be your main focus, you know you

have to teach it from the community or the consumer based." Mr. Gall re-emphasized the

value of implementing "more relevant, consumer based programs." He described several

changes that could be made to the agriculture curriculum to ensure that it was appropriate

for urban students,

Changing some of the other programs even that we have like the environmental
horticulture programs, they can be good for students in urban settings, but as long
as there is a focus on interiorscaping, small-scale specialty production of things,
basically in places where there is not a lot of space. Hundred acre shade houses of
two or three different crops, that' s not practical for an urban student. They can't
really wrap their mind around operating something like that. If you are talking
about animals then more companion animals. Plants need to be houseplants,
ornamental plants and just keeping the science in it and get back to the business
side as well. Honestly, I don't know if I can justify teaching my students about
ruminant nutrition in-depth because none of them have ever had any experience
raising cattle. It is beneficial for them to have kind of an understanding of how that
is different, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time telling them about roughage to
grain ratios...because they are never going to be doing that. Just making it more
relevant to urban settings.

Mr. Hill argued that agriculture programs needed to move away from a more traditional

curriculum with an agriculture production focus to a curriculum that emphasized science

concepts,

I think agriculture itself, education has to get out of the good old boy mentality. We
have to step back and make this the science that it is. Agriculture is the original
science. We've got to let people know that Agriculture Education is about everyone
and not some country thing. We have got to focus on the kinds of programs like I
have...we've got to get rid of those ag welding classes and stuff like that that are
just promoting a stereotype. We've got to train students to become scientists, not
production farmers. Nobody needs training in being a production farmer, they are
already doing it. If somebody is going to be a farmer, then they are coming from a
farm and they already know how to do it. So we need to focus our vocation on
scientists who are going to better our plants and animals.









In contrast, Ms. Taylor promoted the inclusion of production agriculture in the

curriculum,

I know the big fad is not production ag, but consumption ag, but I don't think the
interest is there for consumption ag. There is to an extent, but we need to change
things and not be so old-fashioned that it's just a crop field and it' s just steers and
heifers. I don't think we need to sacrifice our roots for urban schools by any means.
We are living proof that you can have kids in the ghetto in an ag class, playing in
the dirt. I don't think we need to get so far away from that to change everything to
consumption ag. I don't think that' s the way.

While Ms. Taylor felt that urban students were interested in production agriculture, Mr.

Hill was not so optimistic about the level of student interest in a traditional agriculture

curriculum in his school,

I just think the kids interests are not in agriculture...so it' s an elective. They don't
have to take it. When it comes to, do I take art and sit inside where it' s air
conditioned all day or go outside and get sweaty and dirty, the kids that go to this
school don't want to get sweaty and dirty. Period.

The participants reinforced the importance of implementing and delivering a student-

centered curriculum, but reported conflicting views on the appropriate curriculum content

for an urban agriculture classroom.

Value of Agricultural Education to urban students. The category value of

Agricultural Education to urban students consisted of axial codes comprised of students

enrolled in Agricultural Education classes, students' perceptions of agriculture, student

reaction to subj ect matter, and student application of subj ect matter. When asked about

their students, the participants responded very positively with statements such as "these

are the best kids I've worked with and I've worked with over 250,000 kids", "great kids",

"awesome students", "well-behaved", "love students", and "I look forward to the

students." Ms. Campbell even appreciated her "urban students' lack of agricultural

knowledge." This limited awareness could contribute to the students' perceptions of










agriculture that they carried into the classroom. The participants felt that the students

entering their classrooms have "no concept of agriculture", "no understanding of the

everyday impact on their lives", and consider agriculture synonymous with "farming."

Mr. Hill explained the confusion that one of his students experienced when she received

her class schedule,

When she was recruited to be here, in the biotech program, the word agriculture
wasn't mentioned. When she came in for her first day of classes or got her schedule
and it said Agriculture Foundations, she almost left (school name) and she is one of
our most active FFA members.

Likewise, Mr. Linder's students were "really upset" when they were placed in his

elective agriculture class at the beginning of the school year.

Despite the initial perceptions that students may have about agriculture, three of the

participants discussed the positive reaction of the students to the subj ect matter. Ms. Fritz

stated,

I like the fact that these kids are hungry for what we are trying to teach them. Joe
Smith that has grown up on a dairy farm is not going to be that excited about
learning about strawberries. But most of my kids here are. When I show these kids
something, it would be minimal more than likely at a rural school, but to them it' s
very exciting and it' s very new and it's something that they don't know.

Mr. Flood had the opportunity to teach agriculture to both magnet students and students

in the general school population. He found that both groups of students "embraced the

subject matter and wanted to learn more about it." Even after the initial disappointment

that Mr. Linder' s students expressed towards being enrolled in an agriculture class, he

witnessed a drastic change in the students' attitudes toward learning about agriculture. He

felt his class gave the students "the chance to experience something different." The

students in Ms. Fritz's class were very excited about learning and receptive to the

veterinary science curriculum, "I attract the kids that want to learn, that want to know









what I am talking about, that are hungry to leamn that material, that want to know about

small animals, that want to learn dog breeds..." Ms. Brown was proud when she

witnessed a former student applying the subj ect matter that she learned in her middle

school agriculture class,

She works at a daycare now and the kids are always landscaping the daycare, they
are always playing with plants and she's invited me over there to see. She works
with their five year olds, they are little kids and they are always playing in the dirt
and growing plants and flowers and it' s just great to see, hey she' s doing something
that I taught her.

Although Ms. Brown's former student was not involved in the agriculture industry, she

was able to transfer skills that she had learned in her agriculture class to her current j ob.

The value of Agricultural Education to urban students was demonstrated by the quality of

the students enrolled in the Agricultural Education classes, the students' previous

misperceptions of the agriculture industry, the positive reaction of the students to the

subj ect matter, and student application of the subj ect matter.

FFA in urban schools. The category FFA in urban schools was comprised of four

axial codes consisting of FFA activities, student involvement, student achievement and

alternative view of the importance of FFA. There were varying FFA enrollments among

the nine schools, from a chapter with 10 to 12 active members, to a chapter with 438

middle school FFA members.

The FFA members in each of the participants' schools participated in a variety of

FFA events including opening and closing ceremony contest, public speaking, vegetable

identification, horse judging, quiz bowl, ornamental horticulture demonstrations, and land

judging. Due to the active involvement of his FFA members, Mr. Flood was better able to

identify the contests that his students did not participate in,










We haven't done forestry in awhile, we haven't done citrus, or the land judging, but
everything else we've done. And we have students who are interested to do that.
It' s kind of hard to prove to our administration that we're going to do two contests
a year with 437 students. It just doesn't make any sense, so we do almost all of
them .

Ms. Fritz stated that she found that the students' interests in particular FFA events

fluctuated from year to year and she was willing to help them prepare for any contests

that they were interested in, "I tell my kids I'll do any contest they want to do and I'll say

all it takes is for you to get four people together and show up for practice twice a week

and we'll do it."

Several of the participants were excited to share about their students' successes in

FFA, despite the students' limited agricultural experience. Ms. Campbell was pleased

with the accomplishments of her extemporaneous speaker, "our state winner in

extemporaneous, she had no prior ag background and she gets to go to state. So seeing

that is a huge accomplishment in itself ...she was nervous like anyone would be, but she

did great." Mr. Hill bragged on his land judging team,

Try this on for size, in the middle of the city and a bunch of kids that have never
had any experience with agriculture, we have one of the most successful land
judging teams in (city). (School name), they are the kings, they have been doing
this for many years, but the last two years in a row we have come in second only to
(school name) in land judging. We have a very strong land judging team.

Even though her extemporaneous speaker did not win a speaking contest, Ms. Brown was

proud of her speaker' s desire to compete in the event, in spite of her limited English

proficiency,

The girl that did do extemporaneous, she's mainly a Spanish speaking girl, so it
was really cool for her to learn all the stuff and be speaking in English. That was a
challenge for her. Her English is not very good, so it was really cool, you always
remember after.









Ms. Campbell summed up how rewarding FFA success could be for agriculture students,

"seeing their reaction when they place or get an award, they see all their hard work pay

off...seeing them get so excited about that recognition or that acknowledgement of their

hard work."

While Ms. Brown's FFA members participated in traditional FFA activities, she

also had an alternative perspective on the value of FFA for her students. FFA meetings

were an opportunity to "keep them (students) off the streets mainly." She explained the

structure of the bi-monthly FFA meetings,

We have fun. We've played soccer before. They like playing Uno, Monopoly.
We'll always order a pizza and just chill and hang out. Usually we do it on
Fridays...we'll stay until like 7:30, playing...It' s fun, it gives them something to
do, keep them out of trouble. Whatever they decide they want to do, I'm all about


Ms. Brown felt that this unconventional approach to FFA meetings was the most

effective in getting her students involved in the organization.

Obstacles to FFA involvement. The category, obstacles to FFA involvement, was

comprised of four axial codes consisting of student opportunities and involvement,

turnover of student population, transportation obstacles, and promoting involvement in

FFA. Mr. Gall felt that the multitude of extracurricular activities and social opportunities

available to students hindered their involvement in FFA. He explained, "they have so

many different things that they can do on the weekends or after school" and "they have so

many other opportunities. at school competing for their time." Similarly, Ms. Carter

explained that not all paid FFA members attended FFA meetings because "they're high

school kids, they've got lives and j obs and things like that." Ms. Brown found it difficult

to maintain an active FFA chapter due to the high turnover of the student population,









"since Christmas, I've had four of my six officers move and it' s like okay, I have two

kids left, what do I do? Do I go out and start and get new officers?"

Transportation obstacles also limited student involvement in FFA. Both Mr. Hill

and Mr. Flood taught in magnet programs and had students enrolled in their programs

who lived in all areas of the county and often far away from the school. Mr. Flood

explained the reluctance of the parents to allow their children to participate in after-

school activities, "The parents are like no, you need to be on that bus at 3:40 and get

home because if I have to leave you at school till 4:30 or 5:00, you're not getting home

until 6 or 7 and that' s hard to sit in traffic and everything else it takes to get back down

there. I lose a lot of students because of transportation." Ms. Taylor elaborated on the

challenges of preparing a horse judging team, "a lot of these kids don't have a ride to get

anywhere. They can't even stay after school because they don't have anybody to pick

them up."

Three of the teachers discussed some of the misconceptions that they had to

overcome in order to promote student involvement in the FFA. At her first school, Ms.

Campbell found it very difficult to educate the students about FFA,

About breaking down the stereotypical redneck farmers that I guess condescending
lingo, um, it was difficult trying to come over that barrier and educate them. This
is the benefit of this and this is the...what the leadership of that, this is how much
fun you can have doing this and showing them and ...it was difficult every year.

In comparison, at Ms. Campbell's current school the FFA membership is four times

(n=45) the FFA enrollment of her first school, an increase she credits to family

involvement, "a lot of their families are vested in it and they came in wanting to be in

FFA." She emphasized the importance of "showing them other avenues and options that

FFA has to offer" because often her students are under the impression that they "have to










show an animal at the fair to be in FFA." Mr. Gall faced similar obstacles when trying to

organize the FFA chapter at his school. He had three students who had been FFA

members in middle schools and were excited about continuing their participation in high

school, but encountered reluctance from his other students,

Everybody else was just kind of like this is the farming club and that was an
automatic perception. So defeating that perception even amongst students that I
would consider more open-minded and thinking, being able to think outside the box
or beyond themselves have had trouble getting past that perception of it' s the
farming club.

Multiple obstacles to FFA involvement were identified including multiple student

opportunities, high turnover of student population, transportation obstacles, and FFA

promotion to urban students.

Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban schools. The category SAE

in urban schools consisted of SAE opportunities for students and lack of parental

involvement in SAE. The SAE involvement of the students varied among the nine

schools. Three of the teachers required all of their students to complete SAE proj ects. Mr.

Flood required his students to "identify an SAE they can do at home and bring a report

in." Mr. Linder offered his students two options for completing their SAE proj ects. The

students could choose to complete either an "agriscience proj ect or a community service

proj ect." Likewise, the students in Ms. Campbell's classes could select an activity to

complete for their SAE. The seventh graders could either research an agricultural career

or detail the care that they provided for their pet (s). Ms. Campbell explained how a

proj ect as simple as raising a turtle could become an appropriate SAE,

But with turtles, there's not as much care as caring for a dog, so I always add a
little bit more research aspect to them, what' s the breed of turtle, how do you clean
the tank, more care aspects....what' s their diet, what happens if they do get sick
and what are the illnesses of that breed, a little bit more research-based than the
care.









The 8th graders also had two options related to pet care or home improvement,

They can do a very similar animal care, animal training, but a little more in-depth
or if they don't have a pet, there' s three home improvement options. They can do
lawn care, you know mow lawns, they have to do the proper maintenance or their
lawn equipment, talk about related j obs, things like that. There' s landscaping where
they can re-landscape an area of their house and talk about plants, are they native,
non-native, seasons, why would you plant this here and then the last would be a
garden. They could do a vegetable or herb garden and why did they choose that, is
it the right season, are they getting pesticides or herbicides if so, if not, what' s the
benefits and non-benefits of that.

Three of the participants described how many of their students' SAEs were conducted at

school due to the limited amount of space they had at home. Mr. Gall explained that the

most common SAEs for his students were,

agriscience proj ects and then some others doing small animal projects for the fair
like a chicken or a rabbit or raising plants for the fair. Most of the students either
live in apartments or condos or houses that are built on 60 by 100 square foot lots
and so there' s not much space for them to be able to have any kind of proj ect at
home.

The barn facilities on the school campus made it possible for the "subdivision and

apartment kids" at Ms. Fritz's school to have large animal SAEs, which were more

popular than small animal SAEs. Many of the students at Ms. Taylor' s school also kept

their SAE proj ects at school, which "puts a whole lot more work on the teachers." Ms.

Carter emphasized the importance of helping students identify practical SAEs that would

be beneficial in the future,

Like these kids that are doing pig proj ects, unless you live in Iowa or Kansas or
some place you're not going into the pig industry. So having a SAE in a vet
proj ect, you know, we're working with aquaculture maybe breeding Eish or doing
horticulture stuff, that' s so much more practical as far as whether you go to college
or not, but you know, a lot of the kids...I have maybe Hyve kids that work at vet
offices. So they're able to apply what they're learning.

Two of the participants felt that a lack of parental involvement was a maj or barrier

to the implementation and completion of SAE proj ects. Ms. Fritz described the









"resistance on the parent' s part" as "one of the biggest barriers to the kids doing a

proj ect." She thought that since "it is not a way of life for these kids, it' s not something

that these parents did when they were in school and they realize the value of." Ms. Fritz

also shared her perception about rural parents increased involvement in SAE,

it' s almost like in a lot of rural schools it' s understood, if you want your steer to be
weighed at the market, you're going to find a truck and a trailer and you're going to
take it over there. For us it' s more of the student coming to you and saying, can you
haul my steer?

Ms. Taylor also attributed the lack of parental interest for limiting SAE opportunities,

"you can't really get too creative with SAEs because no one is going to help. I mean you

can only help so much as their advisor."

School characteristics. The category school characteristics was comprised of two

axial codes including size of school and pride in school. All nine of the schools had large

student enrollments. Mr. Flood's middle school had 1,200 students enrolled, with almost

440 students in the magnet program. Currently in its third year, Mr. Gall's school had

2,600 students. What he found surprising was,

My high school that I teach at now, I can stand on the roof of that and I can see
three other high schools that have 5,000 students. By the time it is all said and
done, my high school is also expected to be 5,000 students.

With 3,500 students, Ms. Carter' s school was so large that they divided the campuses into

a campus specifically for 9th- grade students and a campus for 10th- 12th- grade students.

This division of the campuses eliminated the opportunity for 9th grade students to enroll

in her vet science course, "freshman can't come over to the main campus which is where

my class is, so they can't take vet one until they are sophomores" which "hurts our

program big time." The large student enrollment in Ms. Brown's school resulted in class

sizes so large that not every student could have a chair,









I have one [class] that' s 30 and I may have one that is 31. Every day we just pray
that somebody is absent so everybody can have a seat. When they are getting their
new schedules in January, I had like 40 and I'm like okay, let's start sitting on the
ground. It was terrible and I finally had to complain, I'm like I can't have kids
sitting on the ground.

Two participants discussed the impact of the school culture and the physical

environment of the school on school pride. Mr. Hill attributed the high rate of teacher

turnover at his school to recurring problems in the school environment. One specific

problem that was identified was related to student behavior, "our school has had more

referrals and more suspensions than any other school in the county." Even though Mr.

Hill did not encounter any student problems in his classroom, he was still affected by the

total school environment,

If I could have my kids and never leave my room, I would teach at this school
forever. What gets under your skin, the thorn in your side at this school, is when
you have to leave the room and when you have to go deal with those discipline and
problems that exist outside this classroom that you don't see in here.

Ms. Brown felt that the level of school pride was diminished due to the physical

appearance of the school campus. Initially, she thought the school "was a j ail. It was

horrible. It' s kind of scary." Also, she discussed how landscaping would improve the

appearance of the school grounds, "this year I think definitely we need to do [landscape]

our own school. Our own school is looking trashier and trashier, it looks terrible and for

them to have an ag program and look terrible."

Agriculture Teachers' Outlooks on their Teaching Tenures in Urban Schools

The category relevant to the agriculture teachers' outlook on their teaching tenure

in an urban school was influences on decision to continue teaching at current school. A

framework detailing the relationship between the open codes, axial codes, and selective

codes is shown in Figure A-4.









Influences on Decision to Continue Teaching at Current School

The category of influences on decision to continue teaching at current school was

comprised of eight axial codes including desired characteristics of new school, current

outlook on continuation of urban teaching career, current outlook on departure from

urban teaching career, curriculum offerings, influence of family, concern for job security

at particular school, opportunity to educate urban students about agriculture, and level of

administrative support. Three of the participants had differing outlooks on their future

careers in an urban school. Ms. Fritz intended to "stay as long as they let me" while Mr.

Linder "would not teach forever in an urban school." Although Ms. Brown predicted that

she would "always teach in an urban school", she felt she would not "always teach at her

current school." Ms. Carter stated that her decision to continue teaching in an urban

school was going to be influenced by the curriculum that she would be able to teach. She

planned on continuing at her current school as long as she could teach,

yet science or any kind of animal science. Obviously vet science because I like the
curriculum because that's what I did before I started teaching. I don't think I could
teach horticulture. I could teach it, but I probably wouldn't like it because it' s not
my background. I'm qualified in Ag 6 through 12, so that means I can teach
anything, but if it' s not in my background then why...why would you? I mean
sometimes it comes down to, do you want a job or do you not want to have a job.
So, hopefully I won't be in the situation where I have to teach something I don't
want to because I need the money.

Four participants mentioned the influence of family on their future career plans.

Mr. Gall felt that it would be more difficult to move from his current urban location if his

family was "settled in. If we have children and they start school here, it will be really

difficult to move most likely." Although Mr. Hill enjoyed living and teaching in the city,

he acknowledged that "I still have some things about the country that I like." Similarly,

Mr. Linder planned to eventually relocate to a more rural area because "I don't think a lot










of country folk want to raise their families in big cities." Ms. Brown expected that she

would move due to "j ob opportunities" for her husband. Mr. Flood felt his career decision

was contingent on the level of support that he received from his administration,

I feel like in an urban school, it' s challenging enough to interest students and to
really get them involved in agricultural activities and if we have an administration
who are unsupportive, it makes it really difficult because it's like how can we get
these students involved when you're saying we can't do this, that, and the other. So
I think the most important thing as far as me staying here will be support from my
admini strati on.

The rapid growth in urban areas has led to a dramatic increase in the number of

schools in urban school districts. This expansion put the j obs of two participants at risk to

be eliminated. Ms. Taylor enjoyed teaching at her school, but was uncertain about her

future there, "I'm kind of in a hard spot because they are opening two new schools. I'm

probably going to get cut based on numbers alone." Ms. Carters's job was threatened as a

result of the school budget, "when the new principal came, he had to make some cuts and

we were potentially on the chopping block." With the elimination of current positions,

the participants were going to be forced to seek employment in another school.

Although, Ms. Fritz had been offered jobs in rural programs, she made the decision

to continue teaching in her current school because of the value of Agricultural Education

to urban students,

I was offered positions at (high school name) and (high school name) since I've
been teaching at least three years out of the five and I did not want to go. I wanted
to stay here because I feel like this is where Ag Education is needed. It' s needed in
the urban areas.

Mr. Hill explained the characteristics that he would seek in a new teaching position,

Everything I have here without the things that I don't like. I would be looking for
something that is more well-balanced in its student population, something that is
more well-balanced in its faculty. We have a very universe faculty, myself being
the minority. I would like a more stable principal or not principal, but
administration. I would like a place that has less-turnover and more respectability.










The participants identified multiple influences on their anticipated teaching tenure

including curriculum offerings, influence of family, concern for job security, level or

administrative support, and desired characteristics in an a new school.

Grounded Theory

From the data analysis, a grounded theory was developed to describe the career

experiences of the nine novice urban agriculture teachers who participated in the study.

Strauss and Corbin (1990), defined grounded theory as,

A theory that is inductively derived from the study of the phenomenon it
represents. That is, it is discovered, developed, and provisionally verified through
systematic data collection and analysis of data pertaining to that phenomenon.
Therefore, data collection, analysis, and theory stand in reciprocal relationship with
each other. One does not begin with a theory and then prove it. Rather, one begins
with an area of study and what is relevant to that area is allowed to emerge (p. 23).

Charmaz (2003) stressed the importance of using the analyzed data to create theoretical

categories instead of trying to "fit" the data into pre-existing categories. She also alluded

to the adaptive nature of grounded theory, "grounded theory is durable because it

accounts for variation; it is flexible because researchers can modify their emerging or

established analyses as conditions change or further data are gathered" (Charmaz, 2003,

p. 252). While a reference citing a specific number of participants needed to create a

grounded theory was unattainable, Strauss and Corbin (1990) emphasized the importance

of theoretical saturation. In order to reach saturation, the researcher used probing

questions for continued expansion of the participants' responses, until new and relevant

information was no longer provided by the participants. The grounded theory presented

conceptually in Appendix B illustrates the multiple influences that made varying impacts

on the participants' past, present, and future career experiences.










The personal influences and human influences that encouraged the participants'

decisions to teach Agricultural Education are included in Circle A and Circle B of Figure

B-1. The positive experiences that the participants had while they were Agricultural

Education students and FFA members inspired them to pursue a teaching career. The

chance to work with children and animals was also identified as an influence. Former

agriculture teachers and college advisors were the primary human influences that led to

the participants' career decisions.

The personal influences relevant to the participants' decisions to teach Agricultural

Education in urban schools are depicted in Circle C of Figure B-1. Several participants

expressed a desire to live and teach in an urban area. The participants were also drawn to

an urban school by the opportunity to start their own program and teach a specific

curriculum, such as plant biotechnology or veterinary science. Also, the established social

and professional networks in urban areas supported the participants' decisions to accept

teaching positions in urban schools. While prior experiences such as field experiences

and student teaching experiences encouraged some of the participants to teach in an

urban school, such experiences did not discourage participants from urban teaching

careers.

In Circle D, the human influences related to the participants' decisions to seek

employment in urban schools are noted. Participants responded to the publicized need for

an agriculture teacher at a particular urban school and were actively recruited by the

county supervisor for Agricultural Education. The participants' families also supported

their move to an urban location.










The perceptions that the participants held about urban and rural schools are

included in Circle E. The few expectations that the participants had about the school

climate and student demographics did not discourage their career decisions. The

participants' perceptions regarding rural schools reinforced their decisions to teach in

urban schools.

The current experiences of novice agriculture teachers in urban schools were

categorized into encouraging and discouraging experiences. The encouraging experiences

could potentially support a teacher' s decision to continue teaching at their current school,

while a discouraging experience could potentially encourage a teacher to leave their

current position. Some current experiences could either be considered encouraging or

discouraging experiences.

The encouraging current experiences are illustrated in Circles F, G, H, I, and J. The

participants found personal benefit in their ability to separate their personal life and their

professional life and in contributing to the well-being of their students. As well, the

presence of cultural diversity and its inclusion in the curriculum was beneficial to both

the teachers and the students. The participants also stressed the value of Agricultural

Education in educating urban students about the importance of agriculture. Participants

were encouraged by the level of administrative support that they received for their

programs, level of parental involvement, and the opportunity to make the curriculum and

SAE meaningful for their students.

The discouraging current experiences are depicted in Circles K, L, M, and N. The

administration' s value of the Agricultural Education program was continually viewed as

being in a state of flux due to the high rate of administrative turnover and differing, and









sometimes conflicting visions, for the Agricultural Education program. Lack of parental

involvement and school characteristics such as school size and the level of pride in school

were also identified as discouraging experiences. With the level of importance placed on

FFA, attempts to overcome the multiple obstacles to student involvement in FFA was

viewed as very discouraging. Also, participants described difficulties they faced with

delivering an appropriate curriculum and identifying relevant SAE opportunities for

urban students. However, these discouraging experiences may be considered encouraging

experiences with the teachers' abilities to maintain a successful Agricultural Education

program in spite of the challenges.

The influences on the participants' decisions to continue teaching in urban schools

are included in Circles O, P, Q, and R. One participant identified student, faculty, and

administrative characteristics that he would seek in a new school. Also important to the

participants was level of administrative support, curriculum offerings, level of job

security, and raising a family.




Full Text

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CAREER EXPERIENCES OF NOVICE URBAN AGRICULTURE TEACHERS By WENDY JACKLYN WARNER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Wendy Jacklyn Warner

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To my parents, Ron and Brenda Warner

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The completion of my journey through graduate school would not have been possible without the support a nd encouragement of many incred ible people. First I would like to recognize my advisor, Dr. Shannon Wa shburn, who was always available to offer feedback, encouragement, and on occasion, a box of Kleenex. I truly appreciate his confidence in my abilities and commitment to my success. I am extremely grateful to the members of my committee, Dr. Linda Behar-H orenstein, Dr. Jim Dy er, Dr. Tracy Irani, and Dr. Ed Osborne. All of these individuals we re not only outstanding teachers, but also excellent mentors. In addition to the members of my committee, I woul d like to thank the faculty and staff in the Agricultural Edu cation and Communication Department and Dr. Mirka Koro-Ljunberg for sharing her qualitative expertise. In my early years of school, several teachers made a positive impact on my life. For this, I thank Mrs. Cramer, Mrs. Butts, and Mr. Diley. While I am excited to begin a new car eer, I am sad to leave all the wonderful friends that I have made while in Gaines ville. I have many fond memories from the countless hours spent in 310 Ro lfs Hall and at DaveÂ’s house. Thank you to Steve Rocca, Shannon Arnold, Ann De Lay, David and Jennife r Jones, Travis and Lacy Park, Emily Rhoades, Nick Fuhrman, Curt Freidel, Eric and Shevon Kaufman, Courtney Meyers, Kris Ricketts, Amanda Ruth, and all the other gradua te students I have be en privileged enough to get to know over the last three years. Also, thank you to my favorite grad school

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v roommate, Tania Flood, and her husband, Sam, and to Bridge Thapa for his endless advice. I probably would not have made the deci sion to begin this journey without the rewarding teaching experience I had while at Corner Lake Middle School and Robert Hungerford Preparatory High Sc hool. During my five years in the classroom, I had the opportunity to learn from many talented te achers: Calvin Dillon, Meg Deering, Tracy Ebert, Dean McCallum, Stephanie Sh elley, Gail Sherman, Dev Kenney, and Tim Vansant. I was also fortunate to have th e support of my agricultu re teacher network: Susan Kelly, Neasa Kalme, John Cloran, Stac ey Redditt, Samantha Dodge, Kim Acton, Tonya Fitzgerald, Mark Mealo, Rick Stotler, and many other agricu lture teachers from around the state. However, my teaching career w ould not have been nearly as worthwhile without all of my awesome students. My kids were truly the best teachers of all and they made a lasting impression on my life. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my family. I thank my uncle, Joe Yager, for providing me with a place to stay while on my interview trips to Orlando. I thank my big sister, Andrea Warner, for making me la ugh with her funny phone calls. I thank my grandparents, Ray and Maxine Warner, for taking an interest in my academic pursuits. I thank my parents, Ron and Brenda Warner, for their continual encouragement and unconditional love. I feel truly blessed to have such car ing parents, who have always supported me whether it meant sitting through hour s of dance recitals, helping with my 4-H and FFA projects, or m oving me across the country. Finally, this dissertation would not have been a reality without my nine participants. Thank you for sharing your stories.

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vi TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF FIGURES...........................................................................................................ix ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..x CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Benefits of Including Agricultura l Education in Urban Schools..................................2 Challenges to the Inclusion of Agri cultural Education in Urban Schools....................4 Statement of the Problem..............................................................................................5 Statement of Purpose and Explor atory Questions Guiding Study................................6 Definition of Terms......................................................................................................6 Limitations and Assumptions of the Study...................................................................7 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE..............................................................................8 Context of Urban Schools.............................................................................................8 Preferred Teaching Location......................................................................................11 Preservice TeachersÂ’ Perceptions of Urban Schools..................................................12 Beliefs about Students.........................................................................................13 Beliefs about Parents...........................................................................................13 Beliefs about Urban Teachers.............................................................................14 Beliefs about Urban School Context...................................................................14 Beliefs about Cultural Diversity..........................................................................15 Influence of Preservice TeachersÂ’ Experiences in Urban Schools.............................16 Decision to Teach.......................................................................................................21 Decision to Teach in an Urban School................................................................23 Decision to Teach Agricultural Education..........................................................24 Decision to Continue Teaching..................................................................................24 Decision to Continue Teachi ng Agricultural Education.....................................26 Decision to Continue Teach ing in an Urban School...........................................27 Chapter Summary.......................................................................................................28

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vii 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS..................................................................31 Researcher Subjectivity..............................................................................................31 Epistemology and Theoretical Perspective.................................................................36 Qualitative Measures of Validity and Reliability.......................................................37 Participant Selection...................................................................................................38 Data Collection...........................................................................................................38 Data Analysis..............................................................................................................40 Chapter Summary.......................................................................................................41 4 RESULTS...................................................................................................................42 Description of Participants.........................................................................................42 Ms. Brown...........................................................................................................43 Ms. Campbell......................................................................................................43 Ms. Carter............................................................................................................43 Mr. Hill................................................................................................................44 Ms. Fritz..............................................................................................................44 Ms. Taylor...........................................................................................................45 Mr. Flood.............................................................................................................45 Mr. Gall...............................................................................................................45 Mr. Linder............................................................................................................46 TeachersÂ’ Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education...............................................46 TeachersÂ’ Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education in Urban Schools..................51 TeachersÂ’ Experiences while Teaching in Urban Schools.........................................62 Agriculture TeachersÂ’ Outlooks on their Teaching Tenures in Urban Schools..........83 Influences on Decision to Conti nue Teaching at Current School...............................84 Grounded Theory........................................................................................................86 5 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................90 Key Findings...............................................................................................................91 TeachersÂ’ Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education...............................................91 TeachersÂ’ Decisions to Teach Agricultural Education in an Urban School...............95 TeachersÂ’ Experiences while Teaching in an Urban School....................................104 Agriculture TeachersÂ’ Outlook on Their Teaching Tenure in Urban Schools.........118 Recommendations for Research and Practice...........................................................119 Recommendations for Future Research.............................................................119 Recommendations for Future Practice..............................................................121 APPENDIX A CODING...................................................................................................................124 B GROUNDED THEORY...........................................................................................147 C EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE................................................................................149

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viii D INFORMED CONSENT..........................................................................................150 E IRB APPROVAL......................................................................................................151 F INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE..........................................................................152 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................154 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................163

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ix LIST OF FIGURES Figure page A-1 Influences on teachersÂ’ initial deci sions to teach Agricultural Education.............125 A-2 Influences on teachersÂ’ initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an urban area...............................................................................................................127 A-3 Agriculture teachersÂ’ current experiences in urban schools...................................133 A-4 Agriculture teachersÂ’ outlook on thei r teaching tenure in an urban school............145 B-1 Grounded theory of the career experien ces of novice urban agriculture teachers.148

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x Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy CAREER EXPERIENCES OF NOVICE URBAN AGRICULTURE TEACHERS By Wendy Jacklyn Warner August 2006 Chair: Shannon Washburn Major Department: Agricultural Education and Communication In an attempt to increase the number of Agricultural E ducation programs, diversify the enrollment of Agricultural Education stud ents, and make an effort to increase the agricultural literacy of urban students, it is imperative to establish more agriculture programs in urban areas. As a result, there mu st be an adequate supply of agriculture teachers who are willing to pursue and main tain teaching positions in urban schools. The purpose of this study was to explore a nd describe the decisi ons of agriculture teachers to teach in urban schools. To carry out this study, a criterion sample was used to select nine individuals who graduated from a teacher education program and had been teaching in an urban school for one to eight years. Specifically, the interview process was used to investigate the factors that influenced agriculture teachersÂ’ decisions to teach in urban schools, the experiences that agriculture teachers have had while teaching in urban schools, and the outlook on the longevity of their careers in urban schools. The categories relevant to the teachersÂ’ d ecisions to teach Agri cultural Education included teacher background and decision to pur sue teacher certificat ion in Agricultural

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xi Education. The categories signifi cant to the teachersÂ’ decisi ons to teach Agricultural Education in an urban school included prio r experience in urban schools, desired location, decision to teach in a particular school, level of influence from family, participantsÂ’ perceptions of urban schools, and participantsÂ’ perceptions of Agricultural Education in rural schools. Th e categories that emerged from the data specific to the participantsÂ’ experiences while teaching in an urban school included bene fits to the teacher, contribution of cultural diversity to th e classroom environment, level of parental support, administrative support for Agricultur al Education, administrative obstacles to teacher vision, Agricultural Education curricu lum in urban schools, value of Agricultural Education to urban students, FFA in urba n schools, obstacles to FFA involvement, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban schools, and sc hool characteristics. The category pertinent to agriculture teacher sÂ’ outlooks on their teaching tenure in an urban school identified multiple influences on the participantsÂ’ decisions to continue teaching at their current schools.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The call to include Agricultu ral Education in urban sc hools is not recent. In 1999, the National Council for Agricultural Educa tion published Reinven ting Agriculture for the Year 2020. Goal two of this document stated that, “all stud ents should have access to seamless, lifelong instruction in agriculture, food, fiber a nd natural resource systems through a wide variety of delivery methods a nd educational settings ” (National Council for Agricultural Education, 1999, p. 4). In addi tion, one of the stated objectives is that “all students in urban, suburban, and rural schools, have access to high-quality agricultural educati on programs” (p.4). In 1988, the National Research Council recommended “specialized magnet high schools for the agricultural sciences in major urban and suburban areas” (p. 4). Seven years after the distribution of Re inventing Agriculture for the Year 2020, it appears that little progress has been made towards the goal of expanding Agricultural Education programs in urban areas. The Nationa l FFA Organization (2004) estimated that nationwide approximately 162,000 FFA members re side in urban or suburban areas. Considering that there are 172,000 students enrolled in 10th –12th grade in the New York City Public School District alone (Sable & Young, 2003), Agricultura l Education is being offered to a minute proportion of urban stude nts. While the National FFA Organization (2004) reported that there are FFA chapters in 11 of the 20 largest cities; including New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia; the exact number of Agricultural Education programs located in urban areas cannot be determined based on existing data.

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2 Benefits of Including Agricultural Educat ion in Urban Schools The potential increase of urban programs o ffers numerous benefits to Agricultural Education. A long range goal was issued at the National Agri cultural Education Inservice, held in February 2006, to have 10,000 quality Agricultural Education programs by the year 2015. Currently, there are 7,210 Ag riculture Education programs nationwide (National FFA Organization, 2006). Therefore, prospective areas of expansion must be identified. Urban areas have witnessed a population expl osion. The United States has seen an increase in the percentage of the total population residing in metropolitan areas, from 28% in 1910 to 80% in 2000. Approximately 226 million people live in United States metropolitan areas, which is nearly four tim es the population of non-metropolitan areas (Hobbs & Stoops, 2002). The growth of metropolitan areas has resulted in an increase in urban school student populations. Duri ng the 2001–02 school y ear, there were 47.7 million students enrolled in public schools. Fifty-seven percent of the schools were located in large or midsize cities or thei r accompanying fringe areas and accounted for 69% of all public school st udents. In 2001–02, an estimated 1 out of every 6 American students attended a large city school (Hoffman, 2003). To account for the expanding student popul ation, new schools are being built at a rapid pace. The growing number of classrooms in metropolitan areas is evidence that the need for new teachers will be the strongest in urban areas (Grant, 1989). On average, urban schools have larger st udent populations than both suburban and rural schools (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996; Sachs, 2004). In their study of rural and urban schools in Ohio, McCracken and Barcinas (1991) reported that the average senior class in rural schools consisted of 74 students compar ed to urban schools which averaged 333

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3 senior class members. The inclusion of Agri cultural Education cla sses in urban schools provides access to a large stude nt population and provides im mense potential to increase the current number of Agricultural Education programs. While the inclusion of Agricultural Edu cation in urban locations can potentially increase the number of agricu lture programs, it can also help diversify student enrollment in agriculture classes. An objective included in Reinventing Agricultural Education for the Year 2020 stated, “student enrollments in Agricultural Education should represent the diversity of the school-aged population” (p.4). Currently, the demographic composition of Agricultural Education students does not ac curately reflect the demographics of the general student population. Approximately 39% of United States public school students are members of minority groups (Hoffma n, 2003). Meanwhile, the National FFA Organization (2004) estimates that approximately 23% of FFA members are minority students. Considering 63% of students in large or midsize cities are minority students (Hoffman, 2003), the in itiation of urban Agricultural Education programs offers the prospect of reaching a more culturally divers e group of students than is currently enrolled in agriculture programs. Offering Agricultural Education courses in ur ban schools can assist in the efforts to increase the agricultural literacy of urban st udents. Agricultural literacy efforts are needed to ensure that the ge neral population understands and values the contribution that agriculture makes to society. Malecki, Israel, and Toro (2004) c ontend that “increasing agricultural literacy is important because it can help citizens make informed choices as voters to support or oppose public policies on agriculture-r elated issues, such as genetically-modified organisms in food pr oduction, food safety, and on food security,

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4 environmental quality, and land use” (p.1). As the urban population becomes increasingly removed from the farm, the promotion of agricu ltural awareness is a critical need. In a study of the agricultura l literacy of urban/s uburban and rural 12th grade students, Pense, Beebe, Leising, Wakefield, and Steffen (2006) reported that the rura l students possessed higher levels of agricultural knowledge when compared to the urban/suburban students. While the aim of Agricultural Education is to educate society as a whole on the importance of agriculture, this cannot be accomplished by leaving urban youth out of the equation. Challenges to the Inclusion of Agricu ltural Education in Urban Schools The goal of increasing the number of urban agriculture programs is hindered by a lack of prospective teachers. Agricultural Educ ation is consistently faced with a shortage of competent teachers. In 2001, 67 agriculture teachers were needed nationwide, but not available and 35 agriculture departments did not operate due to th e lack of a qualified teacher (Camp, Broyles, & Skelton, 2002). Li kewise, urban schools are facing unique challenges related to school staffing due “to rapidly growing student enrollments, accelerating rates of t eacher retirement, cla ss size reduction initiatives, and demanding working conditions” (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000, p. 6). Administrators in urban schools have reported a decline in the size of the teacher applicant pools (Krei, 1998). They find it challenging to recruit new t eachers when school districts in surrounding areas offer higher salaries, better facilit ies, a less challenging student body, and are perceived as less stressful working environm ents (Snipes, Doolittle, & Herlihy, 2002). In addition to the challenges of teacher recruitment, teacher retention is another obstacle in urban schools which face high rate s of teacher turnover (Bruno & Negrete, 1983). Nationally, approximately one-half of beginning teachers exit the classroom in the

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5 first six years. In urban districts this turnover o ccurs in five years. In some urban districts, one-half of the beginners leav e in a three to four year period (Haberman & Rickards, 1990). Using data from a study of teacher tur nover, Rollefson (1990) concluded that rate of teacher attrition increase s with the growth of the minority population in a school. Public schools with a 5% minority enrollment reported a teacher attr ition rate of 7.4%. Teacher attrition increased to 10.5% in sc hools when minority student enrollment was 50% or more. The urban school vacancies that result from this rapid rate of teacher turnover are often filled with teachers w ho are not fully certified (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000). In order to establish and sustain agri culture programs in urban schools, a cadre of well-prepared Agricultu ral Education teachers who are willing to accept and retain teaching positions in urban locations is desperately needed. Statement of the Problem In an attempt to increase the number of Agricultural E ducation programs, diversify the enrollment of Agricultural Education students to reflect the general student population, and make an effort to increase the agricultural liter acy of urban students, it is imperative to establish more ag riculture programs in urban ar eas. As a result, there must be an adequate supply of agriculture teach ers who are willing to pursue and maintain teaching positions in urban schools. Due to the high attrition rates of novice teachers, it is important to examine why beginning teachers ch oose to teach in urban schools and the influences on their teaching tenure in urban locations. Minimal research has been conducted on Ag ricultural Education in urban schools. Current literature focuses primarily on urban Agricultural Education students The factors that influence agriculture teachersÂ’ decisions to obtain employment in an urban school, the unique experiences of urban agricultu re teachers, and agriculture teachersÂ’

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6 expectations of their future teaching careers in urban school s have not been previously examined in the Agricultural Education literature. Statement of Purpose and Exploratory Questions Guiding Study The purpose of this study was to explore a nd describe the decisi ons of agriculture teachers to teach in urban schools. Specifi cally, the interview process was used to investigate the factors that influenced agricu lture teachersÂ’ decisions to teach in urban schools, the experiences that agriculture teacher s have had while teaching in urban schools, and the outlook on the longevity of th eir careers in urban schools. The following questions were used to provide dire ction to the research process: Why did you decide to teach Agricultural Education? What influenced your initial decision to teach Agricultural Education in an urban school? What kind of experiences have you ha d while teaching agriculture in an urban school? What are your expectations of your future teaching career in an urban school? Definition of Terms AXIAL CODING. A set of procedures whereby da ta are put back together in new ways after open coding, by maki ng connections between categories (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p.96). NATIONAL FFA ORGANIZATION. Leadership organization for students enrolled in Agricultural Education. NOVICE URBAN AGRICULTURE TEACHERS. Individuals with 1-8 years of teaching experience who are providing agriculture instruction in an urban school. OPEN CODING. The process of breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualizing, and categorizing data (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 61). SELECTIVE CODING. The process of selec ting the core category, systematically relating it to other cat egories, validating those relationships, and filling in categories that need further refinement and development (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p.116).

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7 SUPERVISED AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE (SAE). The actual, planned application of concepts and principl es learned in agri cultural education. Students are supervised by agricultu re teachers in cooperation with parents/guardians, employers and othe r adults who assist them in the development and achievement of thei r educational goals. The purpose is to help students develop skills and abilitie s leading toward a career (Barrick et al., 1992, p.2). URBAN AREA. Population of at least 400,000 people (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000). URBAN AGRICULTURE PROGRAM. Students receive system atic instruction in an agriculturally relate d subject at a school located in an urban area (Soloninka, 2003). Limitations and Assumptions of the Study This study sought to explain the unique e xperiences of each individual, so the findings cannot be generalized to a larger population. Also, the participants were selected from three different school districts a nd may not be representative of all urban agriscience teachers. During th e interview process, it was assumed that the participants provided honest and accurate answers.

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8 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE As stated in Chapter 1, there is a dearth of research about Agri cultural Education in urban schools. The relevant l iterature examined the barriers preventing urban students from participating in succe ssful Supervised Agricultural Experiences (Whaley & Lucero, 1993), the agriculture curriculum in urban programs (Russell, 1999; Russell & Trede, 1999; Soloninka, 2003; Soloninka & Connors, 2003; Trede & Russell, 1999), college and career choices of urban Agricultural Edu cation students (Esters, 2003; Esters, 2005; Esters & Bowen, 2004), factors in fluencing urban students to en roll in an Agricultural Education program (Esters & Bowen, 2004), opi nions of urban Agricultural Education students towards agriculture (Talbert, 1996; Talbert, 1997), and the major issues facing urban agriscience teachers (Warner & Wa shburn, 2005). The aforementioned studies focused primarily on urban Agricultural Educ ation students, while research examining agriculture teachersÂ’ beliefs about teaching in urban schools, experiences while teaching agriculture in urban schools, and expectations about the futu re of Agricultural Education in urban schools is absent from the literature. Context of Urban Schools In an effort to conduct an inquiry of Agricultural Education teachersÂ’ career experiences in urban schools, it is important to gain a bett er understanding of the unique context of urban schools. Urban schools co mmonly enroll students whose demographic characteristics and home environment are mark edly different than those of rural and suburban students. These differe nces in student culture and experience have an inevitable

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9 impact on the school environment. An ever -increasing population of racially diverse students can be found in urban schools. Over th e past decade, there has been an increase in the number of urban school students who be longed to a Hispanic or “other” minority group (including Asians and Pacific Islande rs), while the proportion of Caucasian students declined and the pr oportion of African American students remained stable (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996). In several urban schools, minority groups (American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asians/ Pa cific Islanders, Hispanic, and African American) constitute the majo rity of the student population. According to the Urban Teacher Collaborative (2000), approximately 50% of the minority students in the nation are enrolled in urban school s. The distribution of ethnica lly diverse students in urban schools differs from student populations in non-urban communities. Over 80% of the eighth graders enrolled in rural and advantag ed suburban schools were Caucasian (Peng, Wang, & Walberg, 1992). Likewise, the curr ent Agricultural Education enrollment consists primarily of Caucasian studen ts (National FFA Organization, 2004). Urban schools are faced with large nu mbers of immigrant and limited English proficient students who require bilingual or ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) education (Monter o-Sieburth, 1989). It is es timated that urban schools nationwide are responsible for educating al most half of the students who are not proficient in English (Urban Teacher Collaborative, 2000). Peng, Wang, and Walberg (1992) reported approximately one-quarter of students who were classified as ESOL, speak a language other than English in thei r homes. The number of students reported to have difficulty speaking English is st eadily rising. During the 2002–03 school year, additional services were provided to 4 milli on ESOL students (Hoffman, Sable, Naum, &

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10 Gray, 2005). According to Pallas, Natriello, and McDill (1989) the number of students who speak a primary language other than English will triple by 2020. Even with the assistance of full-time ESOL teachers and the in clusion of specific ESOL strategies in the classroom, students with limited English prof iciency often lack th e necessary language skills to be highly successful in the classroom and on standardized tests administered by the school. In addition to the language barrier faced by many urban students, as a group they also face greater levels of economic hardship as compared to suburban and rural students. An estimated 30% of urban children were lik ely to be living in poverty, which is more than the 13% of suburban child ren or the 22% of rural ch ildren who lived in poverty. Furthermore, urban children were more likely to qualify for free or reduced lunches. Thirty-eight percent of urban students received a free or re duced lunch as compared to 16% of suburban students and 28% of rural students (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996). Society has experienced a decl ine in the traditional family structure, especially in urban areas. Urban students were less likely to reside in two-parent families when compared to students in suburban and rura l schools (Lippman, Burns, & McArthur, 1996). Similarly, the National Educational Long itudinal Study of 1988 reported a lack of traditional family structure among urban eigh th grade students. Approximately 44% of the urban students resided with both biological parents, while 62% of students in other communities lived with both their mother and father. Thirty-one percent of students in inner-city schools resided with only their moth er. Parents of urba n students were also more likely to be unmarried as a result of being divorced, separated, never married,

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11 widowed or cohabiting (Peng, Wang, & Walb erg, 1992). Lack of parental support can pose a serious problem to the educational success of a child (Corcoran, Walker and White, 1988). Preferred Teaching Location In an attempt to increase the number of urban agricultur e teachers, it is important to understand several factors that influe nce their selection of a teaching position. Prospective teachers have been found to hi ghly value the location of the school when searching for employment and traditionally tend to seek jobs in schools located very close to where they were raised. In a study by Zimpher (1988), approximately 83% (n=605) of the prospective teacher responde nts were raised in suburban or rural communities. When asked to express prefer ences regarding job placement, 84% (n=612) of the respondents wanted to secure a teachi ng position in a rural or suburban area. Only 16% (n=117) of the respondents expressed a desi re to teach in an urban or major urban area. Some preservice teachers are adamantly opposed to the idea of taking a job in an urban school. Gilbert (1995) conducted a study with preservice teachers who were primarily from rural, small towns, or subur ban areas. Of the 71 preservice teachers who indicated that they attended rural schools, 47.9% (n =34) said they absolutely would not teach in an urban school. The students voiced co ncerns about violence, the atmosphere of urban schools, an inability to relate to urban st udents, and an aversion to city life (Gilbert, 1995). This reluctance to teach in an urban e nvironment is especially alarming when considering the demographics of preservice agriculture teachers. In his study, Rocca (2005) found that over 86% (n = 214) of preser vice agriculture teachers grew up in a rural

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12 setting; only 2.9% (n = 6) were raised in an urban location. Based on this finding, he recommended comparing the geographic loca tion of a preservice teacher’s upbringing with the location where they would cons ider living and teaching (Rocca, 2005). Many prospective teachers believe that re turning to their hometown or a nearby area will increase their rappor t with the students due to similar backgrounds and comparable school experience (Werner, 1993). Also, preservice teachers from rural/suburban backgrounds feel they would be more efficacious when teaching in school environments similar to their own (Easter, Shultz, Neyhart, & Reck, 1999). As a result of their rural upbringing, many future Agricu ltural Education teachers may doubt their ability to establish and maintain a successf ul connection with urba n students and achieve programmatic success in an urban school. Preservice Teachers’ Perceptions of Urban Schools The perceptions and beliefs of preservi ce teachers may promote their unwillingness to consider teaching in an urban area. An i ndividual’s beliefs about teaching effectiveness and student behavior often deve lop over the course of their primary and secondary school experiences and carry into their teacher prep aration program (Pajares 1992). It is very difficult to dispel the beliefs that students have formed based on their prior experiences. From a synthesis of research on beliefs, Pa jares (1992) concluded, “beliefs are formed early and tend to self-perpetuate, persever ing even against contradictions caused by reason, time, schooling, or experiences” (p. 324) The media may also be responsible for perceptions that individuals hold about the context of urban schools. With a lack of experience in urban schools and limited expos ure to urban locations, individuals may use media images as the foundation for their beliefs. As explained by Grant (2002), “When the experiences of young people differ widely fr om those of inner-city youth, they rely on

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13 images in popular culture for information a bout worlds different from their own. These images reflect and shape the assumptions with which preservice teachers enter urban classrooms…”(p.78) Several researchers have concluded preservi ce teachers have established beliefs about the students, teach ers, and school environment in urban areas even though they may not have personal experiences with such environments. Beliefs about Students Future teachers often regard urban students as apathetic individuals who possess negative attitudes toward educat ion. When asked to describe the attitudes and behaviors of urban students, preservice teachers us ed adjectives such as, “lackadaisical, unmotivated, rougher, violent, more streetwise emotionally unstable, and concerned with survival” (Shultz, Neyhart, & Reck,1996, p.4). Additional descriptors of urban students included, “disruptive, disrespectful of teach ers, having more problems, and exhibiting worse behavior than suburban childr en” (Aaronsohn, Carter, & Howell, 1995, p.6). Gilbert (1997) found that futu re teachers felt urban youth were more at-risk due to the potential for gang membership and exposure to violence in their surroundings. Preservice teachers also held opinions about the learning ability of urban students. Twenty percent (n=50) of the participants in a study by Shultz et al., ( 1996) thought urban students would have decreased academic ability when compared to other students. Beliefs about Parents Preservice teachers also expressed negative beliefs regarding the parents of urban students. Parents have been viewed as unconcerned and unengaged partners in the education of their child, w ho provided minimal support and guidance (Aaronsohn et al., 1995). In a study of the attitudes of 140 preservice teachers, 24% (n=34) of the participants felt urban parents ha d a vested interest in the e ducation of their children as

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14 compared to 72% (n=101) of the participants who felt non-urban parents took interest in their children’s education. Research has also indicated a notable diffe rence in preservice teachers’ perceptions regarding urban a nd non-urban parents support of teachers, assistance with the educational process, and support of their childre n (Socoski & Hynes, 1991). Beliefs about Urban Teachers Gilbert (1997) asked 345 preservice teacher s to describe their perceptions about urban teachers. Most of the responses focuse d on personal attributes of the teachers. The respondents identified urban teachers as “ young, middle-class, mostly minority females who attended urban schools themselves” (p.86) The participants also predicted urban teachers would encounter problems beyond the cu rriculum such as crime, drug use, teen pregnancy, student behavior, a nd low socioeconomic status, so it was beneficial to be strong-willed and streetwise (Gilbert, 1997). In a study by Socoski and Hynes (1991) preservice teachers questioned the job satisfac tion of urban teachers. Participants felt urban teachers were more likely to experien ce teacher burnout and disillusionment than teachers in non-urban areas (Socoski & Hynes, 1991). In addition, the true responsibilities of teachers in an urban cl assroom were questioned. Tiezzi and Cross (1997) concluded prospective teachers consid ered urban teachers to serve more “as problem solver rather than f acilitator of learning” (p.117) or as a “police officer” or “baby sitter” (Aarons ohn et al., 1995). Beliefs about Urban School Context In Gilbert’s (1997) study of prospective teacher beliefs, the respondents pictured urban school buildings as aging, overcrowded buildings, comparable to jails. They also characterized urban schools as a dismal e nvironment containing minimal facilities and

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15 providing limited opportunities for students. Undergraduate students also described a bleak school location, in “a slum” with dete riorating buildings surrounding the school (Aaronsohn et al., 1995). Beliefs about Cultural Diversity The majority of preservice teachers ar e single, Caucasian females, who are approximately 25 years old and grew up in either a rural or suburban community (Zimpher, 1988). In Agricultural Education, th e typical preservice st udent is a Caucasian female from a rural community. Only 6.6% (n= 14) of the 215 Agricultural Education students who completed a teaching internship in Fall 2005 were members of minority groups (Rocca, 2005). Camp et al. (2002) repor ted that Agricultural Education teachers were predominately Caucasian males. Appr oximately 78% (n=7,536) of Agricultural Education teachers were male and 22% (n= 2,079) of Agricultural Education teachers were female. Caucasian teachers represente d 93.6% (n=9,067) of all Agricultural Education teachers, with Hispanic teachers and African American teachers representing 3.2% (n=303) and 2.5% (n=245) of the Ag ricultural Education teaching force respectively. Often, students reported they had little interaction with individuals from other cultures. In Gilbert’ s (1995) study of rural prospectiv e teachers, 40% (n=77) of the respondents had minimal inter action with students of diffe rent races and cultures. A quarter of the students (n = 48) had not inte rmingled with an ethnically diverse group of students during their time as a university student (Gilbert, 1995) Individuals who welcome the contribution of cultural diversity to education generally have positive attitudes towards social inter action with culturally differe nt others (Dee & Henkin, 2002). The monocultural upbringing of future teachers is likely to impact their perceptions of the

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16 contribution that cultural diversity makes to the classroom environment. Some preservice teachers consider the incorporation of culture to have a negative impact on classrooms due to a lack of cross-cultural curriculum, potential prejudice of teachers, inconsistencies in performance expectations and standardized test scores among different racial groups, and negative effects of stereotypes (S hultz, Neyhart, & Reck, 1996). The cultural stereotypes some teachers maintain have been found to limit thei r encouragement of minority student participation in a variety of school activi ties and events. Larke (1990) reported that 88.3% (n=46) of female elemen tary school teachers thought they would be surprised if a minority student chose to participate in an activity that usually attracted non-minority students. Influence of Preservice Teachers Â’ Experiences in Urban Schools The socialization process that takes place du ring early field experiences and student teaching challenges the beliefs of preservice teachers and helps shape attitudes and knowledge that will inspire their teachi ng (Smith, 2003). Heinemann, Obi, Pagano, and Weiner (1992) stressed the valu e of early field experiences in an effort to diminish the stereotypes and uncertainties of preservice students. Fry and McKinney (1997) described how ear ly preservice teaching experiences at an urban school influenced the attitudes and teaching practices of 10 preservice elementary education teachers. The participants were all Caucasian females who reported that they had experienced minimal to virtually no contact with other racial groups. Prior to their field experience, none of the 10 partic ipants expressed a preference to teach in an urban school and only two would consider work ing in urban settings. They attributed their opinions to fear, a lack of familiarity with other ethnic groups and a preference for residing in a rural or suburban area. The fiel d experience site enro lled approximately 250

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17 students and 99% of the students were African American. At the completion of the field experience, nine of the student s stated that they would cons ider teaching in a culturally diverse, urban school. Two expressed their pr eference to teach in such a setting. The students who completed the field experience were compared to 21 Caucasian, female elementary education students who had a sim ilar methods course, but did not complete a field experience. None of these students e xpressed a preference to teach in an urban environment and three of these students stated that they would c onsider teaching in a culturally diverse, urban school because they were willing to take a job in any setting. While the purpose of this study was not to generalize beyond the 31 participants, it does provide some evidence that the completion of field experiences can influence preservice teachersÂ’ beliefs about urban schools. In an effort to examine the effect of an urban field experience on rural and suburban preservice teachers in Minnesota, tw enty-five students completed an urban field placement for one week in elementary schools around Chicago (Marxen & Rudney, 1999). Six months after the conclusion of the fi eld experience, the participants wrote two essays reflecting on their teaching experience in the city. From the responses, the researchers identified three main areas of focus: Self, Students, and School. Every participant described positive relations with the students in their classrooms. Many of the preservice teachers identified disparities in ac cess to materials, technology, and adequate facilities among the different schools they were placed in among the city. Almost half of the participants were surpri sed by their expectations a nd the reality of the school environment. One of the preservice teachers discussed how the harsh environment of the school neighborhood disappeared when she en tered the school building. Initially, 33%

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18 (n=8) of the preservice teachers were nervous about being a minority, but their initial apprehension diminished as their comfort with the students and the school increased (Marxen & Rudney, 1999). Wolffe (1996) assessed the influence of a two-day field experience in an urban school on the attitudes that preservice teachers had about urban students. The participants were junior elementary educat ion majors who were enrolled in a small college in rural Indiana. Eighteen students pa rticipated in the fiel d experience which took place in a magnet school with a population of nearly 50% African American students and 50% Caucasian students. The participants completed a ten question survey on two different occasions – a week prior to the urba n experience and four days after returning from the field experience. The findings reveal ed the students had a reduced level of low expectations for urban schools, but they still held lower e xpectations for urban students compared to other students. A comparison was made with 18 sophomores who intended to major in elementary education. These students did not partic ipate in the field experience and had no significant change in a ttitudes. In addition, written excerpts from the field experience participants provided th e most convincing evidence of more positive expectations of urban students at the c onclusion of the teaching experience (Wolffe, 1996). Student teaching experiences in an urban sc hool can assist in the growth of selfefficacy among preservice teachers. Rushton (2000) analyzed interviews, written reflections, and group discussi ons of five preservice teac hers to gain a better understanding of their year-long internship experience in an inner-city school. Initially, the participants shared a feeling of cultu re shock. The preservi ce teachers expressed

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19 disbelief concerning the challenging lives th at students had, the prominent display of crime and violence in the community, and the di srespectful attitude of the students. As the participants became more familiar with the school environment, they reported feelings of increased self-efficacy. Rushton ( 2000) opined that “the severity of practice teaching in inner-city schools speeded up th e development of self-efficacy. By accepting and embracing situations not normally consid ered conducive to build ing self-esteem the interns were forced to master the situation” (p.382). The fi ndings of this study are similar to the findings of a later study by Rushton (2003). Pagano, Weiner, Obi, and Swearingen (1995) examined the effect of an urban student teaching experience on the career motiv ations of future teachers. The preservice teachers credited their teaching experiences with a renewed commitment to a future career in teaching. From interviews conducte d with 38 teacher candidates, the most common form of motivation cite d by the teachers was their commitment to the students. They also responded positively to the cultural diversity found in urban classrooms, which encouraged several student te achers to desire a teaching position in an urban school (Pagano et al., 1995). A follow-up study wa s conducted with the same group of individuals two years after they had starte d teaching. The teachers ’ dedication to their students was the factor deemed responsible fo r their continued commitment to teaching in an urban location. Four teachers expresse d a decreased level of motivation citing unmotivated students and lack of support from the school administration (Pagano, Weiner, & Rand, 1997). In contrast, Haberman and Post (1992) found direct experience in urban schools reinforced the preconceptions that preser vice student had about urban students. Upon

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20 completion of 100 hours of direct experience with low-income, minority students, the preservice teachers reported increased negative attitudes towards the students. Exposure to cultural div ersity through experience. Prospective urban teachers must be prepared and willing to embrace th e cultural context of their classroom. Garmon (2004) conducted extens ive interviews with a teacher ca ndidate who hailed from a small rural community with a 1% mi nority population. Over the course of the teacher education program, the researcher noted a dramatic cha nge in the participants beliefs and attitudes towards racial/cultural diversity. Initially the participant intended to teach in a community that reflected the community where she was ra ised. However, during the last year of the teacher preparation program, the participant e xpressed an interest in teaching in an urban location. From the interviews, the researcher deduced that six factors consisting of both personal characteristics and relevant experien ces facilitated a substantial change in the participants viewpoint toward s cultural diversity. The si x important factors posited by Garmon (2004) were OPENNESS. Receptiveness to others ideas or arguments, as well as receptiveness to diversity (p.204). SELF-AWARENESS/SELF-REFLECTIVENESS. Awareness and willingness to critically evaluate ones ow n beliefs and attitudes (p.205). COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL JUSTICE. A commitment to equity and equality for all people in society (p. 206). INTERCULTURAL EXPERIENCES. Opportunity for direct interaction with one or more individuals from a cultural group different than ones own (p. 207). SUPPORT GROUP EXPERIENCES. Individuals who encourage a persons growth through the use of various ac tivities and provide feelings of acceptance, caring, safety, and support (p.209). EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES. Class-related experi ences that support and extend learning (p. 210).

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21 Considering the rural backgrounds of a majo rity of the preservice Agricultural Education teachers, personal characteristics and appropriate experiences are crucial factors in broadening perspectiv es about cultural diversity in the classroom. Only about half of the Agricultural Education programs require teacher education students to complete field experiences in schools w ith a diverse student population. Over 50% (n=28) of the student teaching sites lack student diversity comm only found in urban schools (Wakefield & Talbert, 1999). Decision to Teach With a shortage of teachers, it is important to examine the impetus behind the decision to pursue a teaching career. Accordi ng to Moran, Kilpatrick, Abbott, Dallat, and McClune (2001) factors that indi viduals credit for their decisi on to teach can be classified into three areas as defined by Kyriacou and Coulthard (2000), ALTRUISTIC REASONS. Reasons that deal with se eing teaching as a socially worthwhile and important job, a desi re to help children succeed, and a desire to help society improve (p. 117). INTRINSIC REASONS: Reasons that cover aspects of the job activity itself, such as the activity of teaching chil dren, and an interest in using their subject matter knowledge and expertise (p.117). EXTRINSIC REASONS: Reasons that cover aspects of the job which are not inherent in the work itself, such as long holidays, level of pay, and status (p. 117). The motivation of altruistic, intrinsi c, and extrinsic reasons is commonly acknowledged in the literature on the career decisions of prospective teachers. In LortieÂ’s (1975) sociological study of teaching, he conclu ded that individuals were attracted to the teaching profession because they had a desire to work with young people, viewed teaching as a valuable service, felt they could express interests in the school setting,

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22 preferred the hours and vacation time, and felt a sense of job securi ty. Using LortieÂ’s study as a framework, Morales (1994) investig ated the career decision of 102 teacher education majors from four different counties. The participants indicated that the major reasons influencing their career choice were needs for service and power and the ability to influence others. In a study of education students at Northw estern Oklahoma State University, Hayes (1990) reported that the most frequently mentioned reason for entering the teaching profession was the opportunity to provide a positive and nurturing environment for the students. The college students also expressed a love of children and felt that they would have the opportunity to expre ss their creative abilities in a classroom. Contrary to the Lortie study, none of the partic ipants mentioned the promise of job security as a factor that influenced their decision to teach. The students also acknowledged the influence of others on their personal decision to teach. Thirty-two percent of the students had at least one parent that was a teacher and 54% were encouraged to enter teaching by a former teacher. While African American teachers indicated intrinsic motives for their pursuit of a teaching career, they also embraced the opportunity to serve as a social change agent and contribute to the improvement of the edu cational system for minorities. King (1993) examined why a cohort of African American t eachers decided to en ter teaching. Initially, the primary attraction to teaching for 83% of th e participants was the opportunity to work with young people. However, the factors that they cited as most influential in their decision to actually teach was the lack of minority teachers who could serve as exemplary role models for the students. When compar ing Caucasian and minor ity studentsÂ’ reasons

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23 for entering teaching, both groups indicated intr insic motives, but had distinctly different ideas as to their contributions to students (Su, 1996). Caucasian students believed that they could exert a positive influence on the live s of their students a nd make a significant contribution to society. Minority students felt a need to enter teaching in an effort to provide adequate educationa l opportunities for poor and minority students and offer a curriculum that would be relevant to minority students’ experiences (Su, 1996). Science teachers who participated in Ei ck’s (2002) study described their initial intrinsic reasons for selecting a teaching car eer. They expressed a desire to exert a positive influence on their students. Females felt they should teach for learning and success, while males felt that they should help prepare students to become productive citizens. Decision to Teach in an Urban School. After the completion of a field experience in a multicultural setting with students of varying ages and academic abilities, preser vice teachers were asked to respond to the following question: “What aspects of your t eaching experience would encourage you to consider teaching in an urban setting? ” (Proctor, Rentz, & Jackson, 2001, p. 223). Responses to this question indicated pres ervice teachers possessed a desire to help underprivileged students by supporting thei r academic learning and establishing a concerned and loving relationship. They also appreciated urban stude nts’ responsiveness and enthusiasm and valued the multicultura l differences among the elementary school students (Proctor, Rentz, & Jackson, 2001). Ur ban elementary teachers considered their decisions to take jobs in urban locations as a contribution to society through their assistance to students and devo tion to providing quality learni ng opportunities to students of low socioeconomic backgrounds (Olsen & Anderson, 2004).

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24 When Gilbert (1995) examined the beliefs that rural students had towards teaching in urban schools, 95 of the 193 participants e xpressed an interest in teaching in an urban school. Twenty-six of the students were motivated to teach in an urban area due to social or altruistic reasons. They indicated a belie f that, “urban children deserved good teachers and good teaching and wanted to help the childr en or give back to the area where they had grown up” (p. 297). The respondents also identified several personal reasons that would help their decision to teach in an urban school including satisfaction with any teaching job, desire of a personal challenge, increased quality of life, and the potential opportunity for a higher income. Decision to Teach Agri cultural Education. Several studies in Agricultural Education focus on the academic abilities, such as high school rank, ACT scores, grad e point average, of preser vice teachers who enter the teaching profession compared to preservice te achers who enter a different career (McCoy & Mortensen, 1983; Muller & Miller, 1993; Wardlow, 1986). In an effort to examine the impact of student teaching experience and ot her personal characteri stics, Hovatter (2002) surveyed 75 preservice Agricultural Education teachers about their decision to pursue a teaching career. The most influential factors on the teachers’ career decisions were a desire to interact with peopl e and the opportunity to teach st udents valuable life skills through different components of the program. Decision to Continue Teaching If long term retention of teachers is a pot ential solution for the teacher shortage, research findings paint a bleak picture a bout the length of teacher tenure. Typically teachers exit the profession early in thei r careers. Henke, Zahn, and Carroll (2001) found that 20% of new teachers leave within their first three years of teaching. In order to

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25 maintain the current number of Agricultural Education programs, a high percentage of teacher retention is necessary. The exit of qualified Agricultural Education teachers coupled with the inability to produce enough gr aduates to fill curre nt teacher openings could have negative consequences. Existing pr ograms could potentially close and school districts may be dissuaded from starting new programs due to a lack of well-prepared teachers. To help combat such a problem, there is a need to examine why a teacher decides to continue teaching. Johnson and Birkeland (2002) conducted inte rviews with 50 firs t and second year teachers who obtained teacher certification through a variety of methods (teacher preparation programs at public or private universities, statesponsored or within-district charter schools, or alterna tive certification) and who deci ded to accept teaching positions in a wide range of public schools (urban and suburban; elementary, middle, and high school; large and small student populati ons; conventional and charter). Follow-up interviews with 13 teachers who were satisfied with teaching and planned to stay in the school where they began teaching for an inde finite amount of time revealed that these participants were highly efficacious in their ab ility to be successful teachers and sought out opportunities for professional growth and development. The administration also c ontributed to the teachersÂ’ career satisfaction. The principals encouraged assistan ce from outside sources and es tablished expectations that supported an orderly learning environment a nd maximized student achievement. This study also identified the importance of pr oviding new teachers with an appropriate assignment and realistic workload, accessibility to adequate educational resources, and a school environment that promoted colle giality (Johnson & Birkeland, 2002).

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26 Wilhelm, Dewhurst-Savellis, and Parker (2000) conducted a 15 year longitudinal study with 156 teachers. Every five years, the researchers collected da ta on careers, social networks, and coping styles used when stre ssed or depressed to make comparisons between individuals that remained in the teaching profession and those individuals who left the teaching profession. Teachers cited income, holiday and leave conditions, making a difference in studentsÂ’ lives and student feedback as in fluential factors in their decisions to continue teaching. Decision to Continue Teachi ng Agricultural Education. In 1980, Reilly and Welton conducted a study to determine why vocational agriculture teachers remained in the teach ing profession. In a survey of 80 Kansas teachers, factors that encouraged teachers to continue teaching were specific to people in general, students, and the teaching environmen t. The participants expressed that they enjoyed working with a few specific groups of people: rural peopl e, young people, and other vocational agriculture teachers. As well, the teachers attribut ed intrinsic rewards such as the satisfaction associated with he lping students mature and learn and providing guidance to young people (Reilly & Welton, 1980). By comparing Agricultural Education teachers who remained in the profession with Agricultural Education teachers who left teaching, Grady (1990) concluded that experience and perceived self-efficacy can in fluence career decisi ons. Individuals who continued teaching credited a positive learning experience and sound educational preparation for their competence in the cl assroom. Furthermore, the teachers who remained in the classroom described a much more positive experi ence during their first year of teaching when compared to the r ecollections of the teachers who left (Grady, 1990).

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27 Cole (1984) conducted a similar study us ing certified Agricultural Education teachers who had graduated from Oregon St ate University over a 12 year period. Respondents included graduates who had neve r entered teaching, graduates who started teaching and left the profession, and teachers who remained teaching at the time of the study. Similar to the Grady (1990) study, teacher s who were still teaching recognized the contribution of their teacher education progr am in curriculum development and teaching methods and the experience gained through stud ent teaching. These teachers also enjoyed the hands-on and scientific aspects of teaching agriculture mechanics (Cole, 1984). Edwards and Briers (2001) identified several characteristics that helped explain teachers predictions about the longevity of their teaching career. Gender and agricultural work experience were identified as significan t predictors of the number of years that teachers anticipated remaini ng in the profession. Males a nd individuals with a higher level of agricultural work experience expect ed to remain agriculture teachers for the longest period of time. If this study holds true broadly throughout the profession, the dramatic increase of female preservice t eachers and female agriculture teachers could create future concerns for teacher retention. Decision to continue teachi ng in an urban school. Using interviews and questi onnaires, Shann (1998) evaluated the satisfaction of urban middle school teachers. The participan ts identified the students as the most enjoyable aspect of their job. They st ressed the importance of maintaining a good relationship between teachers and students and fe lt most satisfied with this facet of their teaching careers (Shann, 1998). Teacher confidence and competence in the classroom can help extend the length of a teaching career. Chester and Beaudin ( 1996) were interested in how teacher

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28 characteristics and school practices affected self-efficacy beliefs of novice teachers in urban schools. New teachers who perceived hi gh levels of cooperation among faculty and administration reported higher levels of self-efficacy than new teachers who were isolated from other teachers in the school. As well, new t eachers who were observed by an administrator multiple times throughout the school year reported a positive change in their self-efficacy as compared to their counterparts who were not observed. The supportive and collaborativ e nature of a school, in addition to observation and feedback from administrators can successfully s upport the induction process of new urban teachers. Chapter Summary The purpose of this chapter was to provide a review of research that is relevant to the research study. Urban schools commonly enroll stud ents whose demographic characteristics and home environment are di fferent than those of rural and suburban students. The populations of urban schools are often composed of a large percentage of culturally diverse students. Additionally, ur ban schools reported higher levels of ESOL students and students residing in non-traditional families. Preservice teachers often seek teaching positions near th eir hometowns. Due to the rural or suburban upbringing of many preservi ce teachers, they are often disinclined to consider teaching positions in urban areas. The perceptions and beliefs of preservice teachers could support their aversion to teachi ng in urban schools. Literature documents the beliefs that preservice teachers had rega rding urban students, the parents of urban students, urban teachers, the urban school cont ext, and cultural divers ity. The inclusion of field experiences in teacher preparation c ourses challenged some of the pre-existing beliefs of preservice teachers and encourag ed some preservice teachers to consider

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29 teaching positions in urban schools. Also, fiel d experiences exposed preservice teachers to the cultural divers ity commonly found in urban classrooms. There are multiple influences on teachersÂ’ decisions to teach. Teachers often cite the impact of altruistic, intrinsic, and extrinsic reasons on their career decisions. Preservice teachers are often attr acted to urban schools because they feel they are able to make a contribution to society by assisting w ith the academic growth of urban students. Other factors that encouraged preservice t eachers to accept teaching positions in urban schools included job opportunities, desire for personal challenge increased quality of life, and possibility of a higher income. Most of the research litera ture on individualsÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Educati on focus on academic measures such as standardized test scores a nd grades. However, Hovatter ( 2002) reported that Agricultural Education preservice teachers were drawn to the profession by a desire to work with students. Teacher retention is a cha llenge facing the education profession. Research reports have indicated a high percentage of teacher attrition. Teachers who continued to teach reported high levels of self-e fficacy, support from administrati on, desire to participate in professional development offerings, opportunity to influence the lives of students, and personal benefits. Agricultural education teache rs were encouraged to continue in their profession by the opportunity to work with students, people in the community, and in a particular teaching environment. The infl uence of agriculture teacherÂ’s teacher preparation courses and the succe ss of their first year of teac hing also contributed to their decisions to continue teaching. Similarly, t eachers in urban schools credited rapport with students and confidence in the classroom fo r their decisions to continue teaching.

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30 In summary, this chapter details many of the characteristics that are unique to urban schools and to Agricultural E ducation. However, as previously mentioned, minimal research has been conducted on Agricultura l Education programs in urban schools. In order to advance efforts to place and retain ur ban agriculture teachers, research is needed on the distinct characteristic s of Agricultural Education programs in urban schools and how these characteristics influence preservice teachersÂ’ decisions to teach in an urban school, their urban teaching experiences, and th eir decisions to continue their teaching career in an urban school.

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31 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS In order to better understand why an ag riculture teacher chooses to teach Agricultural Education in an urban school, a qualitative approach wa s utilized for this study. As defined by Denzin and Lincol n (1994), qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpreti ve, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative resear chers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interp ret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials that describe routine and problematic moments and meaning in individuals' lives. (p.2) More specifically, in-depth interviews we re used to develop an understanding of career decisions of urban Agricultural Edu cation teachers by exploring: the perceptions that the teachers held prior to accepti ng a teaching position in an urban school, the teachersÂ’ experiences while teaching in an urban school, and the teacherÂ’s outlook on their future career within an urban school context. This chapter describes the research desi gn and methods that were employed during this study. A discussion of researcher subjectiv ity, theoretical perspective, measures of validity and reliability, partic ipant selection, data collec tion, and data analysis are included in the chapter. Researcher Subjectivity When contrasting the positivist and naturalist paradigms, there are several widely accepted principles that are in c onflict. The belief about the role of values in inquiry has incompatible views on the function of th e research methodology and the researcher

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32 (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The positivist appr oach promotes the use of research methodology that is objective and value-free Conversely, the naturalist approach acknowledges the multiple influences that th e researcher imposes on a research study (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). As a resu lt, it is essential that the re searcher becomes personally aware of his/her subjectivities and allows th e reader to understand th e subjectivity of the researcher. By documenting tacit knowledge and beliefs, the researcher is better able to monitor perspectives that could manipulate the interview process and distort the data analysis and research findings (Glesne, 1999). The subjectivity of the researcher is detailed below: I was born and raised in Fayette Count y, Ohio. When I looked out any of the windows of my childhood home, I saw acres of corn and soybeans. A gravel lane stretched a quarter of a mile behind my house. At the end of the lane was my grandparent’s house, which was surrounded by a barn, feeding floors, and several fields that my dad and grandpa used to raise pigs. On the mile stretch of road where I grew up, there were a total of six houses. My family lived about eight miles from the county seat, Washington Court House, which had a populat ion of about 15,000. On the outside of the city limits lived another 15,000 residents. From 1990–1994, I attended high school at Miami Trace High School. Built in 1962, the high school was the newest of all ni ne schools in the dist rict. My rural high school enrolled approximately 800 students in grades 9–12. With a student body that was 99% Caucasian, I received minimal exposure to other cultures. There was not much for teenagers to do in a small town, so my frie nds and I stayed busy with extracurricular

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33 clubs. On the weekends, we atte nded local sporting events such as football or basketball, or spent a few hours burning ga s while cruising around town. When I started ninth grade, I was excite d to enroll in an Agricultural Education class and join FFA. During my four years as an FFA member, I ha d the opportunity to participate in a variety of FFA activities. I was a member of the parliamentary procedure and dairy foods judging teams, served as a chapter officer, attended FFA camp for four summers, and traveled to Kansas City fo r the National FFA Convention. My active involvement in FFA encouraged my decision to major in Agricultural Education while at Ohio State. During my undergraduate career, I fulfilled the requirements necessary to complete my degree, but I did not have a vested intere st in teaching agriculture. In my first two years of the program, I assumed that I would find a job teaching in a small town close to my hometown, teach for a few years, and then enter a new career path. As my graduation date got closer, I decided to explore job opportunities beyond the state of Ohio. My family thought I would relocate to either I ndiana or Missouri and were very surprised when I expressed an interest in finding a job in Florida. In May 1998, I flew to Orlando to interv iew for agriculture teaching positions. I had four interviews; one for a middle school position and three for high school positions. I departed Orlando with a job at Corner Lake Middle School, which was a brand new school located on the east side of Orlando. I would be teaching agriculture as an exploratory subject to approximately 500 6th-, 7th-, and 8thgrade students. I was excited to teach in Orlando. My aunt and uncle lived on a golf course in an affluent suburb of Orlando, so I assumed that all my students would come from similar

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34 environments. Was I in for a surprise! Duri ng the middle of the pre-planning frenzy, my principal loaded all of the teachers on school buses so we could become acquainted with the area where our students lived. The homes ranged from small, dilapidated houses, to crowded apartment complexes, to extravagant homes with well manicured lawns and swimming pools in the backyard. The make-up of my classes was just as diverse as the homes that we saw on the bus tour. My students were from diverse cultures, family structures, and economic backgrounds. My two years of teaching at Corner Lake were challenging. I was faced with large class sizes and students who lack ed skills that were appropriate for their grade level. Our school was on a 9-week block schedule, so it was often difficult to build rapport with each student in only 22 days. At the end of my second year of teaching, I decided that I wanted to teach high school and obtained a job at Robert Hungerf ord Preparatory High School. This school was a stark contrast to the high school that I had attended. The campus was located in Eatonville, Florida, which is the oldest incorporated black municipality in the United States. The st udent population was ma de up of 42% African American students, 33% Caucasian students, a nd 23% Hispanic students Over half of the students qualified for free or reduced lunches. Initially, I was a little nervous about how my lack of cultural exposure might influence my interaction with the students in my program. I was also worried about my ability to deliver an agriscience curriculum that would meet the expectations of the students and administration. The three years I spent teaching at Hungerford Prep were extremely demanding, but rewarding. My st udents were enthusiastic and involved in many activities and projects. In addition to th e day-to-day routine of the classroom, the

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35 program housed a plethora of animals: ch ickens, sheep, hamsters, rabbits, fish, and a prairie dog. We were fortunate to receive administrative approv al to travel the state and beyond the state line. We attended the Nationa l FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky; visited many sites in Central Florida; and spent a few weeks every summer at leadership and forestry camps. The students were also enthusiastic FFA members. They loved competing in the forestry contest, the parlia mentary procedure contest, and in ornamental horticulture demonstrations. The students al so enjoyed contributing to the community through involvement in community service ev ents, from serving dinner in a homeless shelter to assisting with th e Adopt-A-Highway program. Teaching agriculture in an urban school was an enriching experience for me. My students were so thoughtful and appreciative of even the smallest things that I would do for them. The students invited me to attend activ ities that were significant to them, such as church services, sporting events, and music recitals. At one church service I attended, I was one of only two Caucasians in the entire sanctuary. I had grown used to teaching in a school where over half the student populati on was comprised of African American and Hispanic students. Nevertheless, during that church service I was ab le to identify with feelings of being a minority. As an urban agriscience teach er, I truly felt like I was able to make a difference in the lives of my students. I felt like more than just a teacher, I filled th e role of a parent or an older sister for many of my students. I often find myself looking at pictures of my former students to remind myself of the pos itive impact that a diverse group of Orlando high school students made on my life.

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36 The use of a qualitative methodology allowed for the human as instrument (Guba & Lincoln, 1981), in the retelling of the participants’ career stories. While the researcher attempted to maintain obj ectivity throughout data collect ion and data analysis, the researcher’s prior experience as an urban agriculture teacher could have potentially influenced the probing questions included in the interview process. However, the researcher employed several m easures that are discussed la ter in the chapter, in an attempt to provide an accurate representati on of the participants’ career decisions and career experiences. Epistemology and Theoretical Perspective Epistemology is concerned with "the natu re of knowledge, it s possibility, scope, and general basis" (Hamlyn, 1995, p. 242). C onstructionism recognizes that meaning occurs as a result of our engagement with the realities in our world. As described by Schwandt (1994), "knowledge and truth are created, not discov ered by the mind" (p.125). A theoretical perspective is “a way of l ooking at the world and making sense of it. It involves knowledge and em bodies a certain understanding of what is entailed in knowing, that is, how we know what we know (Crotty, 2003, p.8). Constructivism was the theoretical perspective gui ding this research study. The us e of constructivism focuses on the unique experiences of each individua l and acknowledges the validity of each person's method of making sense of the wo rld (Crotty, 2003). Through the use of indepth interviews, the researcher and the participants were en gaged in the construction of a narrative to detail the participants’ perspe ctives of their teachi ng experiences in an urban agriculture program. Each of the particip ating teachers had the opportunity to share their distinct beliefs and indivi dual experiences specific to thei r career in an urban school.

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37 Qualitative Measures of Validity and Reliability In quantitative research, the quality of the research is measured using the following criteria: internal validity, external validit y, reliability, and objec tivity. As Lincoln and Guba (1985) pointed out, “criteria defined fr om one perspective may not be appropriate for judging actions taken from another pers pective” (p.293). Guba (1981) proposes four criteria that are more appropriate for qualitati ve research: “credibility in place of internal validity, transferability in place of external validity, dependability in place of reliability, and confirmability in pla ce of objectivity” (p.219). When considering the credibility of a qualitative research inquiry, “it is assumed that reality is constructed, multidimensional, and ever-changing; there is no such thing as a single reality to be observed and measured. In a sense, the research er offers his or her interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of reality” (Merriam, 1995, p. 54). Member checks, peer/colleague examination, and the creation of a subjectivity statement were used in order to strengt hen the credibility of the curr ent study. Prior to beginning the study, the researcher articulate d her personal experiences and biases so that the reader would better understand the inte rpretation of the data. Af ter the interviews were transcribed, the participants were asked to complete a member check and verify the accuracy of the transcripts. Throughout the pr ocess of axial coding and selective coding and during the stages of theory developmen t, a colleague scrutinized the data and critiqued the emerging theory and research findings (Merriam, 1995). Dependability seeks to ensure the findings of a study reflect the data collected from the interview participants. In addition to using peer examinations, an audit trail was maintained to establish consistency between the interview data and the proposed findings (Merriam, 1995). The researcher documente d the data collection process, the

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38 development of the open codes, selective co des, and axial codes, the progression of theory development, and any other decisions pertinent to the research process (Merriam, 1998). While quantitative research stresses the im portance of generali zability, the goal of the qualitative approach is “t o understand the particular in depth, rather than finding out what is generally true of many” (Me rriam, 1995, p.57). In order to achieve a sound understanding of the research, thick description was used to detail the participants’ beliefs and experiences. The in clusion of detailed descripti on allows readers to easily transfer the research findings to co mparable situations (Merriam, 1995). Participant Selection Purposeful sampling was used to identify and select potential interview participants for the study. This type of sampling advocates the selection of information-rich cases for study to provide thorough understanding and insi ght rather than empirical generalizations generated by quantitative st udies (Patton, 2002). More spec ifically, a criterion sample (Patton, 2002) was used to select nine i ndividuals who had graduated from a teacher education program and had been teaching in an urban school for one to eight years. The potential interview participants were initia lly contacted through email to explain the purpose and importance of the study, the valu e of their participation, and the data collection methods. After receipt of the ini tial email, interview dates and times were arranged using the telephone or email. Email correspondence can be found in Appendix C. Data Collection The first step in the data collection process was to create research questions that were appropriate for the theoretical pe rspective guiding this study. The use of

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39 constructivism allowed for the participants to express their percepti ons about the decision to take a job in an urban school and con tinue teaching in an urban school. Also, the inclusion of questions about the teachers’ expe riences in an urban school allowed them to explain how pertinent experiences impacted th eir perceptions of thei r current careers and future tenure in urban schools. After th e interview question guide was designed and reviewed by a panel of experts, the IRB protocol and informed consent was submitted to IRB for approval. The interview informed consent document can be found in Appendix D, IRB protocol approval can be found in Appendix E, and the interview question guide can be found in Appendix F. In early February 2006, the protocol was followed in a pilot study conducted with three middle school urba n agriculture teachers. This allowed the researcher to make appropriate modifications to probing questi ons that were asked in the interviews. For the present study, nine interviews we re conducted from February – April 2006. The use of interviewing allowe d the researcher to understa nd the experience of other people and the meaning they construct of th at experience (Seidman, 1998). Interviews were conducted in order to describe how each teacher made meaning of their teaching experience in an urban school. A semistructur ed format was used to organize the onehour interview. The researcher used a set of guiding questions during the interview, but used probing questions to expand and clarify statements made by the participants (Hatch, 2002). Seven of the interviews were conduc ted in the teacher’s classroom. Due to extenuating circumstances, one interview wa s conducted in the teacher’s home and one interview was conducted in a restaurant select ed by the teacher. With the consent of the participants, all of the interviews were audi o taped for transcripti on at a later time.

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40 Data Analysis The process of grounded theory allows for the development of theory using data that were systematically gath ered and analyzed. This method allows for the establishment of a close connection between the data collect ion, analysis, and resu lting theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) and encourages the researcher to create a conceptu al understanding of concrete realities that were expressed during interviews (Charmaz, 2003). The use of grounded theory offers the following benefits to a research study, Theory derived from data is more likely to resemble "reality" than is theory derived by putting together a series of concepts based on expe rience or solely through speculation. Grounded theories, b ecause they are drawn from the data, are likely to offer insight, enhance understanding, a nd provide a meaningful guide to action (Strauss & Corbin, 1998, p. 12). The use of grounded theory requires a concurre nt effort to collect and analyze data in the initial stages of the research process. A benefit to this effort is that it “keeps researchers close to their gathered data rath er than to what they may have previously assumed or wished was the case” (Charmaz, 2003, p.312). Two different approaches to grounded theory are commonly used. When using objectivist grounded theory, the researcher ta kes a positivist approa ch to uncover an external reality that is already in existence. This method requires the researcher to remain distant from the research participants and serv e as an external and detached authority on the participants and their realities (Cha rmaz, 2003). In contrast the constructivist approach to grounded theory acknowledges that the data and analysis are co-constructed using the shared experiences of the research er and participants. The researcher does not seek to discover an external reality usi ng only the collected data. Instead, the data analysis is a reflection of rese archer’s thinking which may not strictly adhere to the data alone (Charmaz, 2003). Due to the researcher’s prior teaching experience in an urban

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41 school, objectivist grounded theory was used to ensure that the data and analysis were a collective representation of the participants without manipulation from the researcher. After the data were collected and transc ribed, open coding was used to break the data down into smaller, more distinct segments that could be used to identify similarities and differences in the data from each individu al interview and across all nine interviews (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Once the researcher completed open codes of all the interview data, axial coding was used to create a categor y that encompassed all of the codes that were appropriately related. Fi nally, selective coding was used to begin integrating the identified categories into an initial theory. The open codes, axial codes, and selective codes generated from the data can be found in Appendix A. Memos and diagrams were used to assist in the process of data anal ysis and help create a conceptual understanding of the developed theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Chapter Summary This chapter described the research desi gn and methods that were employed during this study. A discussion of re searcher subjectivity, theoretical perspective, measures of validity and reliability, particip ant selection, data collection, and data analysis was also included in the chapter.

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42 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of this study was to explore a nd describe the decisi ons of agriculture teachers to teach in an urban school. At the conclusion of the transcription process, 178 pages of text were included in the data analysis process. From the data, categories emerged specific to the teachersÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Education, the teachersÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an urban location, the experiences of the teachers while teaching agriculture classes to urban students, and the teachersÂ’ outlook on their teaching tenure in an urban school. Th e use of coding resulted in the emergence of two selective codes relevant to teachersÂ’ initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education, six selective codes relevant to the influen ces on teachersÂ’ initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an urban area, elev en selective codes relevant to agriculture teachersÂ’ current experiences in urban school s, and one selective code relevant to agriculture teachersÂ’ outlook on their teaching tenure in an urban school. The figures included in Appendix A depict the relationships between the open codes, axial codes, and selective codes. Also presented in this chapte r is a grounded theory to illustrate the career experiences of the nine pa rticipants in the study. Description of Participants To provide more detail of the participan tsÂ’ backgrounds and teaching careers, brief biographical sketches of each pa rticipant have been included below and in Table 4-1. In an effort to protect the conf identiality of the pa rticipants, pseudonyms have been used.

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43 Ms. Brown Ms. Brown has always lived in a metropol itan area of Florida. She attended a suburban high school where she was enrolled in Agricultural Education and was a member of FFA. She completed her student teaching experience in an urban middle school and has been teaching at her current school for three years. Currently, Ms. Brown is teaching agriculture as a semester long elec tive class at an inner city, Title I school to 6th-, 7th-, and 8thgraders. In addition to her responsibilities as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, Ms. Brown has served as the he ad track coach for the last two years. Ms. Campbell Ms. Campbell grew up in a suburb of a Midwestern city and never had the opportunity to enroll in Agricultural Educati on as a high school student. She relocated to Florida to attend college. She initially majo red in Food Science a nd Human Nutrition, but was encouraged by her faculty advisor to consid er a career in Agricultural Education. She completed her student teaching experience in a rural school, but has been teaching in an urban district for five years. Ms. Campbe ll began her teaching car eer in a middle school, where she taught for four years, before transf erring to her present middle school prior to the 2005–2006 school year. Ms. Carter Ms. Carter grew up in a small town and did not enroll in Agricultural Education while in high school. After earning her bachel ors degree in animal science, she worked on a swine farm in a Midwestern state prio r to earning her teac hing certification. Ms. Carter returned to the high school she attende d to complete her student teaching. She first moved to an urban area to take a position teach ing agriculture as part of an exploratory wheel to middle school students. After teachi ng middle school for four years, Ms. Carter

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44 accepted a position at a high school in the sa me county, teaching Veterinary Assisting. Currently, she is teaching Veterinary Assisting to 10th–12th grade students. Mr. Hill Mr. Hill was raised in a rural area of a Mi dwestern state, but did not grow up on a farm. He was enrolled in Agricultural Edu cation classes throughout al l four years of high school. After graduating from a land-grant institution, he work ed in agribusiness for one year then returned to the uni versity to complete his teach er certification. His student teaching experience was completed in a rura l high school. Mr. Hill started his teaching career at a charter middle school. After one year, he moved to his current district and has been teaching for four years. Mr. Hill’s program is an Agricultural Biotechnology magnet program that has approximately 90 stude nts enrolled. He t eaches Agriscience Foundations, Agricultural Biotechnol ogy 2, Plant Biotechnology, and Animal Biotechnology. Ms. Fritz Ms. Fritz was raised in a rural area, bu t did not grow up on a farm. She attended a high school with a large Agricultural Educati on program and enrolled in an agriculture class during her junior year of high school. During college, she changed her major from animal science to Agricultural Education a nd completed her student teaching in a rural school. Ms. Fritz began her teaching career at the high school wher e she is currently teaching and has been there for five years. She teaches an agriculture class for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students, Agriscience Foundations, and Veterinary Assisting.

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45 Ms. Taylor Ms. Taylor grew up in a rural area, bu t attended elementary school and middle school in town because she had access to af ter-school care. Ms. Taylor entered a rural high school and enrolled in an agriculture class as a freshman. While in college, she considered majoring in nursing, but selected a major in Agricultural Education. Ms. Taylor completed her student teaching expe rience at the urban high school where she currently teaches. Upon her graduation from co llege, Ms. Taylor moved to a western state to work as a horse trainer. In January 2006, Ms. Taylor started her teaching career in Florida. Her teaching responsibilities incl ude an ESE Agriscience Foundations class, Agriscience Foundations, a nd Aquaculture Foundations. Mr. Flood Mr. Flood was born and raised in a metropolitan area. In sixth grade, he enrolled in the agriculture magnet program at the middl e school where he currently teaches and attended an agriculture ma gnet program during high school. He completed his student teaching internship at an urban middle school and then returned to his hometown to accept a teaching position. Mr. Flood has been teaching 8th grade for two years. The magnet program in which he teaches enrolls approximately 440 of the schoolÂ’s 1200 middle school students. During his first ye ar, Mr. Flood had the opportunity to teach three exploratory agricultur e classes for students in th e general school population. However, due to an increase in student num bers, he is currently only teaching magnet students. Mr. Gall Mr. Gall grew up in a rural area and was a student and FFA member in a very active Agricultural Education program. He comp leted his student teaching experience in

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46 a rural high school, but relocated to an urban area to teach in a newly opened school. This is Mr. GallÂ’s second year of teaching. He is currently teaching Agriscience Foundations, Agricultural Biotechnology, an ESE Agriscienc e Foundations course, and two sections of Biology. Mr. Linder Mr. Linder grew up in a small, rural town with a rich tradition of Agricultural Education programs and FFA involvement. He estimated that there were 21 agriculture teachers in his hometown of 27,000 people. Mr Linder was very active in FFA during middle school and high school. He completed hi s student teaching experience at a magnet program in an urban high school and accepte d a teaching position at a new middle school in the same urban district. Mr. Linder is in his first year of teaching and teaches a yearlong agriculture elective class to a mix of 6th-, 7th-, and 8thgraders. Currently, he has about 190 students in his agriculture classes. Table 4-1 Description of Participants Name Teaching Experience (years) High School Attended Student Teaching Location Ag Ed/FFA Involvement as Student Ms. Brown 3 Suburban Urban M.S. Yes Ms. Campbell 5 Suburban Rural H.S. No Ms. Carter 6 Rural Rural H.S. No Mr. Hill 5 Rural Rural H.S. Yes Ms. Fritz 5 Rural Rural H.S. Yes Ms. Taylor 1 Rural Urban H.S. Yes Mr. Flood 2 Urban Urban M.S. Yes Mr. Gall 2 Rural Rural H.S. Yes Mr. Linder 1 Rural Urban H.S. Yes TeachersÂ’ Decisions to Teac h Agricultural Education The categories relevant to the teachersÂ’ d ecisions to teach Agricultural Education included teacher background and decision to pur sue teacher certificat ion in Agricultural

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47 Education. A framework detailing the relations hips between the open codes, axial codes, and selective codes is shown in Figure A-1. Each specific category is detailed below. Teacher background. The category, teacher background, was comprised of three axial codes including involvement in Agricu ltural Education, involvement in FFA, and lack of involvement in Agricultural Educatio n/FFA. All of the participating teachers who had been enrolled in Agricultu ral Education in middle school and/or high school reflected on their individual experiences in Agricultu ral Education and FFA. However, enrollment in Agricultural Education and participation in FFA was not an influential factor on all of the teachersÂ’ decisions to teach as two had not been enrolled as students. The axial code, involvement in Agricu ltural Education, emerged based on the discussion of seven participants regarding their personal experiences as Agricultural Education students. While the paths taken to enroll in Agricultural Education were found to be unique for all participants, Mr. Flood described the unusual circumstances that led to his enrollment in Agricultural Education, I landed in the class by accident. I th ink what happened was I was in physical education and we had to buy a uniform and that kind of thing and a student, I think, stole my uniform, so I didnÂ’t have anything to dress out in and I got a zero for the day and then they had this new agriscience class but they didnÂ’t have any enrollment so they came to us and said look some of you guys probably donÂ’t want to be here and so we have this new class, they go on field trips and have a lot of fun. I said sure why not. And ended up in the class. Knew nothing about agriculture at all. Although this participant did not have pr ior knowledge about ag riculture, he found the curriculum to be novel and exciting. Similarly, Mr. Hill also ended up in an 8th grade agriculture class by chance, but his respect fo r the teacher and interest in the subject matter encouraged him to enroll in high school agriculture classes, The last nine weeks of 8th grade, we were on an expl oration wheel and they stuck me in this ag class. Everybody had to take it, but it was my last nine weeks and I

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48 liked the teacher, I thought it was interest ing. I didn’t grow up on a farm, I mean I grew up in the country, but it wasn’t by a ny means farming and I just liked the way the classroom was. I liked the teacher a nd realized that was a good place for me. Another teacher who was recruited into a high school agriculture class by her friend revealed that she “loved ag class” and “l oved being around the anim als.” Mr. Hill felt a sense of comfort and security that was established through strong bonds with the one agriculture teacher that he had for four year s and referred to his Agricultural Education class as a “home base.” The seven former Agricultural Education st udents also discussed their involvement in FFA. In the hometown of Mr. Linder, “FFA is very, very big and basically dominates the culture.” In this same community, th ere was an expectation for high-achieving students to “just join FFA.” Ms. Brown tout ed her former FFA chapter as an “amazing FFA program.” The seven participants took pa rt in a variety of FFA activities ranging from competing in Career Development Events (CDEs), to showing livestock, to serving as a chapter FFA officer and as a state FFA officer. One participant even credited her FFA involvement for “forming who I am today.” The prior experiences that these seven participants had in Agricultural Education a nd FFA influenced their decisions to teach Agricultural Education. In contrast, two of the participants never enrolled in an agriculture class while they were in school. For Ms. Campbell, there was never an opportunity to take an agriculture class. Due to the increasing urbanization of her hometown, the agriculture program was eliminated prior to her entry into high sc hool. Ms. Carter had aspi rations of becoming a veterinarian, but expressed a lack of knowledge about the co urse offerings, “no one ever talked to me about FFA or agriculture” and a la ck of interest in large animals, “I didn’t want to have anything to do with cows or pi gs.” Consequently, she never enrolled in the

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49 agriculture classes offered at her high school These participants’ l ack of experience in Agricultural Education and FFA did not deter their decisions to become an agriculture teacher. Both participants were encouraged to pursue a teaching certificate by faculty advisors, which will be discu ssed later in the chapter. Decision to pursue teac her certification in Agricultural Education. The category, decision to pursue teacher certi fication in Agricultural Education, was comprised of three axial codes including oppor tunity to work with kids and animals, influence of agriculture teacher, and influe nce of college adviso r. Several of the participants anticipated the opportunities a career in Agricultu ral Education would afford them to work with an audience of inte rest, either children or animals. Also, recommendations and advice from former ag riculture teachers and college advisors encouraged the teachers to pr epare for a teaching career. Two of the participants credit ed their love of children for their decision to pursue a teaching career in Agricultural Education. Ms. Brown stated, “basically the key thing is that I enjoy being around kids” and Ms. Taylor described her lasting affinity for working with children, “I’ve always loved kids. Children are my passion”. When considering obtaining a degree in education, Mr. Hill thought that as an agriculture teacher he could make the biggest difference in the lives of hi s students, “if I want to influence children, where else can you do it except in the ag classr oom because you see them for four years. You don’t see those kids in an English clas sroom or a math classroom.” Ms. Carter thought teaching agriculture would allow her to in teract with animals, “I wanted to teach animal science because even though I wasn’t going to be a vet, I still wanted to work with animals.”

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50 Former agriculture teachers made a lasti ng impact on five of the participants and helped shape the participants’ career decisions. While Mr. Flood was enrolled in agricultural education for seven years, he initially had no inte ntion of becoming a teacher, yet, his Agriculture Education teacher’s pr omotion of teaching influenced Mr. Flood’s career choice, Up until my senior year of (high school), I had no interest in teaching at all, but after talking to several of my agricultu re teachers who kind of convinced me or kind of gave me some of the benefits of teaching ag…I thought what a better thing to do than teach agriculture? While wrestling with the decision of what to do at the conclusion of high school, Ms. Brown consulted with her agricu lture teacher and took his advice, One day I went to my agriculture teacher and said I don’t know what I want to do when I graduate and he told me, you should be an agriculture te acher. I was like are you serious? That changed me. I decided, okay this is what I want to do. Three additional participants described the positive impact and lasting impression that their agriculture teachers made on th eir lives. As described by Mr. Linder, “my teacher really inspired me, he believed in me and treated me like I had never been treated before.” College advisors were responsible for the transition of three participants from other majors or careers into the Agricultural E ducation major. Ms. Carter had already been working on a pig farm in another state when she became interested in the possibility of becoming an agriculture teacher and contac ted a faculty member in the Agricultural Education department, “and told him I was interested in maybe teaching … we talked on email and said what I needed to do, how I need to get certified, so I just decided to do that.” For Ms. Fritz, her work experience ma de her realize she wa s pursuing the wrong career path, “I was going to go into the dairy industry and th e more I worked at the dairy

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51 research unit, the more I realized I did not wa nt to be on a dairy.” Her faculty advisor in the Agricultural Education department assist ed her in developing a schedule that would allow her to complete her teacher certific ation in a reasonable amount of time. Ms. Campbell had always considered becoming a teacher, but she was concerned that she would be “stuck in a classroom.” When sh e was contemplating a possible major change, Ms. Campbell’s advisor from the Food Sc ience and Human Nutrition department happened to be a former agriculture teacher and suggested that she consider teaching Agricultural Education. Since Ms. Campbell had no prior experience in Agricultural Education, her advisor recommended that she visit a few agriculture programs. While visiting the programs, Ms. Campbell realized th at teaching Agricultur al Education did not adhere to her initial percepti on of teaching and appealed to her as a future career, The moment I walked in, I was hooked. I was like these kids are outside, they’re getting their hands dirty. Oh my gosh, it’s hands-on, this is perfect, this is everyday life, that’s where I want to be. The opportunity to work with a particular audience of interest and encouragement from a former agriculture teacher or a coll ege advisor encouraged the participants to pursue teacher certif ication in Agricultural Education. Teachers’ Decisions to Teach Agricult ural Education in Urban Schools The six categories relevant to the teach er’s decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an urban school included prio r experience in urban schools, desired location, decision to teach in a particular school, level of influence from family, participants’ perceptions of urban schools, and participants’ perceptions of Agricultural Education in rural schools. A framework de tailing the relationships between the open codes, axial codes, and selective codes is s hown in Figure A-2. Each specific category is detailed below.

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52 Prior experience in urban schools. The category of prior experience in urban schools consisted of the axial codes includi ng no prior experience, “guest” experience, and internship experience. Two of the participants stated that they did not have any prior experiences in urban schools. Mr. Hill and Mr. Gall both grew up in rural areas and completed student teaching internships in rural schools. Several of the participants gained exposu re to urban schools through various “guest experiences”. While Ms. Campbell and Ms. Fr itz completed their student teaching in rural schools, they participated in an Agricu ltural Education field trip to urban schools. Ms. Brown took the initiative to visit othe r inner-city schools and urban schools while looking for a job in the urban county where sh e currently teaches. Mr. Linder spent about three weeks volunteering in urban schools to gain some initial experience in an urban classroom. The participants did not reflect on the impact of this “guest” experience on their eventual career decision. Four of the participants had the opportunity to comp lete their student teaching experience in an urban school. For Ms. Taylor, she returned to teach in the same urban program where she completed her student teach ing. Mr. Linder described the impact that his student teaching experience in an urban school had on his eventual career decision, My original plan, up until st udent teaching, was to go to (state) and teach there. I student taught and I just lik ed it a lot, way more than I thought I would. I thought it was very, very productive. I thought the FFA was even better than I realized, as a teacher. I enjoyed it a lot more because I was able to see it from a different perspective how much childre n can be helped by it. Ms. Brown felt that the exposure she had to st udents with “different ethnic backgrounds” helped prepare her for an urban teaching pos ition. While not all of the participants correlated their internship experi ence in an urban school with th eir decision to teach in an

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53 urban school, their internship experience did not discourage them from seeking a teaching position in an urban program. Desired Location. The category of desired lo cation was comprised of the following axial codes: desired teaching location and desired living location. The environment where the participants wanted to live combined with the location of the school resulted in the teachers’ desired locations to look for job opportunities. Four of the participants expre ssed a desire to live in an urban area due to their prior experience in an urban area, their reluctance to live in a rural area, or for a change from their current living location. Ms. Brown expre ssed her preference for a city lifestyle, “I like living in the city, I don’t want to be liv ing out in the middle of nowhere.” Ms. Fritz also wanted to avoid moving to a rural area, “I don’t want to be in a big farming area.” Mr. Hill thought that relocating to an urba n area would be a “neat place” in closer proximity to the ocean and would offer a better climate, “I just got tired of the snow.” As well, Ms. Carter couldn’t speci fically explain what led her to seek employment in a city, but noted “I just wanted to get away fr om where I grew up.” Even though Ms. Carter, who teaches in Orlando, was eager to move away from her hometown, she would have been reluctant to move to certain cities in Florida, “Orlando is a big city, but it’s not really a big city…Miami would scare me.” One participant, who teaches in Miami, explained that he would have never imagined himself living in an urban area, “I didn’t really want to be a part of it. Like when I think about really metropo litan urban areas, like downtown Miami and New York City, LA, I sti ll can’t see myself living in those places.” He further explained that he did not want to live in clos e proximity to others, “When you grow up on a farm and your closest neighbor be sides your grandma is a half a mile away,

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54 having somebody to the right and left and above and below, th at is kind of restrictive. ” Eventually, this participant decided to move to an urban center to teach a specific curriculum offering, which will be di scussed later in the chapter. Decision to teach in a particular school. The category decision to teach in a particular school was comprised of the follo wing seven axial codes: the need for an agriculture teacher, influence of agriculture supervisor, influence of other teacher(s), curriculum offerings, professional network, social network, and personal control. Six of the participants responded to the pub licized need for an agriculture teacher. At her first school, Ms. Campbell was compelle d to take the job because the “program was being threatened to close.” The positi on at another school was “posted for two or three years” before Ms. Brown accepted the job. Ms. Taylor felt the other agriculture teachers “needed my help” after another agricu lture teacher left th e school early in the academic year. Although Mr. Hill attended colle ge in a Midwestern state, he learned about the job opportunities in Fl orida through a job posting board, I walked through the hallways at (land gran t institution) and th ey had postings for the teaching jobs and there was a job in Orlando…I said, you know that’s a good idea, maybe I’ll just teach in Orlando or maybe I’ll just teach in Florida. Four of the participants discussed the influence of the Agricultural Education supervisor in their respective school distri cts. Ms. Carter desc ribed the effective recruiting strategies used by the supervisor in her county, “I think (supervisor’s name) was one of the main reasons that I came to (c ity). She contacted me, she was very helpful, and she sold the program in th e county.” Mr. Gall was recru ited by the county supervisor during his student teaching expe rience and the supervisor “t ook me to a couple different schools”, one of the three school s that the particip ant visited is where he eventually accepted a teaching position. These participan ts would not have been aware of the

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55 teaching possibilities in ur ban counties without the communication from the county supervisor. Five of the participants taught in single teacher departments, while only three of the participants were teachers in a two-teach er agriculture department and one of the participants worked with four other agriculture teachers. Tw o of the participants were attracted to an urban school through the influence of the other teacher(s). When interviewing for the teaching position at her current school, Ms. Fritz had the chance to meet the other agriculture teacher who made the position “very attractive. He offered me class choices on whatever I wanted to t each. He said you can coach whichever FFA teams. I knew I would have a lot of choices and options for what I wanted to do here.” Ms. Taylor considered her colleagues, “awes ome people to work with” and stated, “I chose to come here because I chose to work wi th the kind of people that work here.” This level of comfort with the othe r teacher(s) made the urban t eaching positions appealing for the participants. Three of the participants wanted to teach sp ecific curricula that were not offered in all Agricultural Education programs. Due to his interest in plant biotechnology, Mr. Flood knew he would have limited job opportunities, I knew that the track that I wanted to teach was plant biotechnology and I pretty much knew that if I wanted to teach that, I was going to have to go to a more urban setting because most of the ru ral schools were still very traditional in their program tracks. Although he had been a student in a production-focused agriculture class in a rural area, Mr. Hill thought he would be well-suited fo r his teaching position because “it was very science based and not necessar ily your traditional agricu lture program.” Ms. Carter believed teaching the vet science curriculum woul d be the “perfect job” due to her love of

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56 animals. The ability for urban schools to offer very specialized curriculums assisted in the recruitment of the three participants. An established professional network helped three participants transition into their teaching career in an urban school. Ms. Campbell credited the success of her first year to teachers she had become acquainted with duri ng her teacher preparation program, “I was very fortunate that some teachers here are so me teachers I had classe s with, so I already had some teacher base or some help. If it wa sn’t for them…the first year would not have been successful.” She also appreciated the guidance she received from the other middle school agriculture teachers in the county wh en she was planning her curriculum. Mr. Flood returned to teach in the middle school that he attended becau se “my mentors were here.” He also felt the school would be an id eal place to teach because “I’d have a lot of support in this school versus going to a school where I didn’t know anybody and start from scratch.” The reassurance of having an established professiona l network helped ease the fears of these new teachers. Mr. Flood also described the comfort of havi ng an established social network in the city where he returned to work. Although he considered teaching jobs in another urban location, he felt “compelled to come back” to this particular city because “I’ve always had family down here and my whole life is dow n here.” Also, the idea of relocating to a new and unfamiliar area concerned Mr. Flood. He explained, “getting started and not really having much to start with, it would be very difficult for me to make a living in (city), not ever bei ng from (city) or having anybody ther e who could help me out.” Mr. Gall and Mr. Hill felt that the opportuni ty to be a single teacher in a new program allowed them a great deal of persona l control. Mr. Gall like d that he would be

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57 responsible for the success or failure of the program w ithout having any established expectations created by the former agriculture teacher, I wanted basically to start my own program that I could say at the end if it was a success, then that was not because of what was already there. If it was a failure then it was my failure. I wasn’t being set up for failure by a previous teacher. I knew there weren’t really many opportunities for that, usually you have to deal with the teacher before that was great or the teacher before that was horrible. Mr. Hill also believed that students benef ited from the exclusive rapport they could establish and maintain with one agriculture teacher, “I feel li ke the kids, even though they are getting more opportunities at these big schoo ls who have seven ag teachers, I feel like those kids are missing out a little bit too because they’re not developing those strong bonds necessarily with one teacher.” The expa nsion of Agricultural Education programs in urban areas allowed these two participants the opportunity to be the sole Agriculture Education teacher in a brand new program. The participants cited a vari ety of factors that compelle d then to seek employment in a specific urban school. Th ese factors included the response to a publicized need for an agriculture teacher, the influence of the agri culture supervisor for the county, recruitment from the other teacher(s), the opportunity to teach a particular curri culum, the existence of a professional and social network, and personal control over the program. Level of influence from family The category level of influence from family was comprised of axial codes including experi ences of family, support from family, and opinions of family. Only Ms. Brown discusse d the career experiences that her family members had in urban areas, “My mom taught in an inner-city school so that kind of got me prepared. My brother works in inner-city Miami as a police officer.” Not even the “horror stories” that her mother had from he r teaching career in an urban school, deterred Ms. Brown from obtaining employment in an inner-city school.

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58 The families of three of the participants were quite surprised by their decisions to become Agricultural Education teachers. Me mbers of Ms. Campbell’s family even made jokes about her career choice, “my mother’s joke was, what you are going to teach cows how to read?” Her family members were also unaware of th e job responsibilities associated with teaching agriculture and i nquired, “What are you going to do in teaching agriculture?” The family of Mr Gall, “thought I had lost my mind when I said I wanted to be a teacher in the first place” and Ms. Brown’s mother “was quite surprised when I said I wanted to be an agriculture teacher.” The families of these participants seemed so shocked at the career choice of these participants that they did not question their desire to teach in an urban school. Even though the families of some of the pa rticipants questioned their career paths, several of the participants felt their families were supportive of their decisions to move to a city. While Mr. Hill’s mother “was a littl e bit sad in her own way”, she supported her son’s relocation because she “wanted me to do whatever was going to make me happy.” The families of Ms. Carter and Mr. Gall did not express any opinions about life in an urban area but were concerned about the dist ance from home. As Mr Gall explained, “for my family it was a matter of being six hours aw ay. I’d never lived th at far away since I grew up literally 45 minutes from where I at tended college.” Only Ms. Fritz described how her parents tried to reverse her d ecision to teach in an urban school, My parents wanted me at a rural school. They wanted me at (name of rural high school), they wanted me at (name of rural high school) because they thought I would be happiest there. The perception is that if you teach agriculture, you need to go where agriculture teachers bel ong. That was their perception. Mr. Hill and Mr. Gall also described how th e support of their spouses allowed them to accept teaching positions in urban schools. The wife of Mr. Gall had already been

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59 accepted to a master’s program at the University of Florida. When the participant initially interviewed at his current school his wife “sat in on my inte rview and agreed to apply to a local university. That was one of her bi ggest drawbacks to moving down.” Mr. Hill expressed his surprise at th e decision of his girlfriend ( now wife) to move from the Midwest to a city in Florida, She just up and moved. She’s crazy. I have no idea why she moved with me. I guess she loved me. Guess she just wanted to adventure. We were kids, we were young and we had lived a simple life and we just wanted some adventure. The families of the participants had minimal input on their decisions to teach in urban areas. This implied support of the family made it easier for the participants to relocate or return to urban areas for a teaching position. Participants’ perceptions of urban schools. The category teacher s’ perceptions of urban schools consisted of axial codes in cluding perceptions of school environment, perceived student interest in FFA, and expectat ions of student demographics. Four of the participants shared the perceptions of urban schools that th ey had prior to starting to teach in urban schools. The perceptions they previously held focused on the school environment and student demographics. When considering the school environment, Mr. Linder thought it “could be more challenging” to teach in an urban school and “more difficult than working with a bunch of count ry white folks like myself.” Ms. Taylor predicted that her school “would have more problems inside” and “would be a whole lot rougher.” She felt that teaching at her curr ent school would adequa tely prepare her to teach at other schools in the future, “my philo sophy is, if you can teach at a rough school, you can teach anywhere.” Two of the participants believed that ur ban programs would not have much FFA involvement and were surprise d at the student interest in FFA. Ms. Fritz was impressed

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60 with all the activities in wh ich FFA members participated, “…there was one point where I remember being surprised that there was as much FFA interest as there was. The other teacher would start telling me about the st uff that they did and I was like, Wow!” Likewise, Mr. Hill found that his students were eager to take part in FFA activities such as land judging, One of the things that I thought was surpri sing was that kids were willing to jump on the FFA scenario…they were willing to participate in things like land judging where you are digging a hole and going outside and so I think it surprised me, their willingness to participate. Unfortunately, not all of the participants found it so easy to secure st udent participation in FFA. In relation to student demographics, Ms. Brown thought “being White was going to be hard for me because 85% of our school is Black. That kind of intimidated me, I guess. I thought there would be problems and I’ve never had a problem.” Mr. Hill did not “expect the ethnic diversity, maybe naively I thought that there would be more white people.” He expressed his initial shock at his first experience with feeling like the minority, “my first day of school, homeroom is first here at (school name) and I was the only White person in the room. I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t expecting that.” While the participants had some preconceived id eas about the school environment, student interest in FFA, and student demographics, their perceptions faile d to discourage them from accepting employment in an urban school. Participants’ perceptions of Agricultural Education in rural schools. The category participants’ perceptions of Agricultur al Education in rural schools consisted of axial codes including perceptions of rural stude nts and perceptions of rural schools. Four of the participants questioned their own ability to teach in a rural school because they felt

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61 rural students would be more knowledgeable than the teacher about agriculture due to the students’ likely involvement in producti on agriculture. As Ms. Fritz explained, If I had gone to a rural school, I would have had all those kids telling me what I needed to know. They would have all know n more than me about producing a steer or if I’m trying to talk ab out landscaping in class, there’s going to be somebody in there who’s been doing that since they were young. They’re going to know more than I do. Although he was raised in an rural area, but not on a farm, Mr. Hill felt more comfortable teaching in a city school because he thought most of the students would possess little prior knowledge about agriculture, One thing that I guess made me feel bette r about teaching in an urban school was just maybe the ignorance of the students when it comes to agriculture and that anything was educational to them versus if I’m in rural (state) teaching and I want to talk about a moldboard plow, well everyone in the room knows what it is. Mr. Hill was concerned that if he did teach in a rural school, “there was going to be some kids sitting there knowing more than I did.” Ms. Brown, who was raised in a city, echoed the previous statement, Like schools like (school names), it just di dn’t interest me. It’s like you have all these kids that have an agricultural a nd farming background. I was never raised on a farm and it just bothers me that maybe the kids know more than me. Like over the weekend, I went to the state fair and kind of helped with the dairy skill-a-thon and I never knew how to tag a cow and the kids ta ught me how to tag a cow. I just think, hey I’m an ag teacher, I should know how to do that. Contrary to the beliefs of the aforemen tioned participants, when Mr. Flood had the opportunity to work with rural students, he found “many students in the rural programs surprisingly just didn’t know anything about agriculture.” Mr Gall also felt that “even in rural areas there’s ignorance about the breadth of agriculture. People just see what’s out in the fields and they associate that with agriculture.” Ms. Carter elaborated on her perception of the role of FFA in the agriculture curriculum at a rural school compared to an urban school. She felt that “some rural

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62 programs were relying too much on FFA” and some rural teachers consider themselves to be “an FFA teacher” whereas she is “an ag teacher.” Ms. Carter also mentioned how some of the emphasis on FFA is a result of pare nt expectations, “If I were sent to a rural school, I would be expected by the parents to be an FFA teacher. Well, where’s this team, where’s this team, where’s this team…” In c ontrast, Mr. Linder though t it would be much easier to establish an active FFA program in a rural area because “the principal’s probably been in FFA.” The participants’ per ceptions of rural stude nts and rural schools encouraged their decision to teach Agri cultural Education in an urban area. Teachers’ Experiences while Teaching in Urban Schools The current experiences of an agriculture teacher in an urban school can influence their eventual decision to remain teaching at their current school, depart for another teaching position or even consider a new caree r path. The categories that emerged from the data specific to the participants’ e xperiences while teaching in an urban school included benefits to the teacher, contributi on of cultural diversity to the classroom environment, level of parental support, admi nistrative support for Ag ricultural Education, administrative obstacles to teacher vision, Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools, value of Agricultural Education to urban students, FFA in urban schools, obstacles to FFA involvement, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban schools, and school characteristic s. A framework detailing th e relationships between the open codes, axial codes and selective code s is shown in Figure A-3. Each specific category is detailed below. Benefits to the teacher. The category benefits to the teacher were comprised of three axial codes including urban teachers can separate personal life from professional life, personal rewards, and collaboration w ith other agriculture teachers. Ms. Brown

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63 appreciated that she could “leave the students at the end of the day” and “go home and have another life.” If she had decided to teac h in an rural area, Ms. Carter thought that she would not be able to achieve a division be tween her personal life and her career. She further explained, “at a small school you are under a microscope whereas in a large school there is more autonomy and less pare ntal pressure. In a small school, parents expect Agricultural Education to be your life.” The two particip ants valued the ability to isolate their personal life from their profe ssional life and determine their level of engagement in the community. Two participants shared opinions about th e personal rewards they received from teaching in an urban school. Ms. Brown f ound her interaction with students to be gratifying, I guess I can tell just everyday that I make a change. I feel like I make a difference in somebody’s life. A lot of the kids, they don’t have families at home, so they look to me like I’m their mom…I can see why becau se either the mom or dad is in jail or you’re raised by grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles. Mr. Linder enjoyed the urban environment a nd emphasized how “fun” it was to “teach and live in an urban area.” Such personal re wards made it very satisfying for the two participants to work in an urban location. Three of the participants discussed the support and assi stance they received from other agriculture teachers, either in thei r school or within their county. Ms. Brown, a middle school teacher, appreciated the a ssistance she received from a high school agriculture teacher, “he’s awesome and I ge t a lot of good stuff from him” and the exchange of ideas with another middle school teacher, “I’m really close with (teacher name), me and her have always shared id eas and she always has good ideas.” In Ms. Campbell’s school district, informal mee tings were held among the middle school

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64 agriculture teachers to plan for FFA events, welcome new agriculture teachers to the county, share lesson plans and curriculum id eas, and locate appropr iate resources and materials. She elaborated on the benefit of these meetings, at the beginning of the year, we always try to have the middle school ag teachers meet. The big thing is all of us work toge ther about sub-district s because we always put on one big event. So we always talk about that. And then we always…especially with new teachers, we try and introduce all of ourselves. We also bring in lesson plans and ideas and make sure we are all using the same book we need to, so we do some curriculu m alignment across the board and if something’s working here, why isn’t it wo rking there, what can you do different, swap, and exchange lesson plans…pool resources and materials because (teacher name) has this whole shed of knowledge, I n eed to check out this and borrow that. You have your veteran teachers who have been doing it for 30 years and knows what works and doesn’t work. Knowing that another agriculture teacher would always being willing to help was reassuring to Ms. Taylor, “There’s a lot of assi stance, like if I need help with something, it is readily available, some body will help me.” While onl y two of the participants identified the existence of a professional ne twork as an influence on their decision to teach in an urban school, several participants discussed the personal be nefits that resulted from collaboration with other agriculture teachers in the county. Contribution of cultural diversit y to the classroom environment. The category contribution of cultural diversity to the cl assroom environment was comprised of the axial codes cultural diversity of students, t eacher appreciation of cultural diversity, and contribution of individual student culture to the classroom. All of the schools were composed of students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Mr. Linder estimated his school to be “98% minority.” Mr. Gall and Ms. Carter reported a high enrollment of Hispanic students. At Mr. Gall’s school, approximately “84% of the students were Hispanic” while Ms. Carter estimated that ha lf (n=1750) of the student body at her school were Hispanic. At both Ms. Brown and Mr. Hill’s schools, over 75% of the student

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65 population was African American. The cultu ral diversity of the general student population was reflected in most of the pa rticipants’ classes. Mr. Flood noted the importance of recognizing stude nts’ individual heritage, “Some of everybody is here. There’s a Venezuelan, and a Honduran, a Cuba n, a Puerto Rican, a Jamaican, and no one wants to be grouped with anybody else.” He also stressed the importance of “understanding the different cu ltures and why students do th e things they do and why parents behave the way they do sometimes.” Three of the participants felt that the cultural diversity of their students was a valuable asset to both the teacher and the students. Ms. Brown appreciated “hearing about different places” and “learn ing about different cultures. ” Ms. Campbell and Mr. Linder also “enjoyed the diversity of urban student s.” These three teachers explained how the incorporation of the various backgrounds of the student s improved their classroom curriculum. Several of Ms. Brown’s students shared about their families involvement in agriculture in Puerto Rico, “I’ve had a few ki ds that lived on farms in Puerto Rico…their experiences help out a lot, bringing that in here.” Students in Ms. Campbell’s classroom also shared about agriculture from their cultu ral perspective, “because you are in (city) and you have every single race possible, that enha nces culture. It’s really neat agricultural wise…this is how my grandpare nts or great-grandpa rents did this or this is how we’ve done this, my culture, my history. ” When the students in Mr. Linder’s class completed horticulture demonstrations, he encouraged them to draw upo n their cultural heritage, I specifically told them that one of thei r main advantages that they have over country white folks like me is to bring a dish or technique or some thing that is used in their home country. I don’t really even know my her itage 100% and these kids are either first or second generation fr om whatever country they’re from.

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66 The participants found that th eir personal interest in cultu ral diversity and the mix of cultures among their students was an a sset to the classroom environment. Level of parental support. The category level of pare ntal support was comprised of the axial codes including low level of parental support and high level of parental support. There was an evident disparity in the parental involveme nt at some schools compared to others. Ms. Brown tried unsuccessf ully to get the parent s involved with the FFA chapter, “I tried the first two years to have a parent FFA meeting. I’ve seen other chapters have parent meetings, but that doesn ’t work here. The only way to get a parent out here is to have some kind of feast.” Not only was Ms. Brown frustrated by a lack of parental interest in FFA, she was surprised at their disinterest in the education of their children, “I’m amazed by parents, lack of pare nt support here and even with field trips, it’s so hard to get any ki nd of parent out here.” Mr. Flood had a much different experience w ith the level of parental involvement. He explained the tremendous amount of suppor t that parents provided to the school, parents are here all the time. I think that these are the types of parents who are proeducation for their students. No matter what it’s for their chil d and it involves me having to come out here on a Saturday and help out, they’re usually here. It is important to note that this overwhelming support was provided by the parents of the magnet students at Mr. Flood’s school. When teaching an exploratory class for the general student population, Mr. Flood faced stru ggles with parental involvement, similar to what was described by Ms. Brown. He attri buted this difference to the work schedules of parents, “My parents in the standard program are parents who are working all day, can’t come in.” Administrative support for Agricultural Education. Most of the participants were positive about the amount of support that was provide d to the program by their

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67 principals. However, Ms. Brown explaine d how the level of administrative support increased when her first principal left th e school. She doubted that the first principal “would have hired me” and thought “that he di dn’t want agriculture.” In contrast, Ms. Brown’s current principal “really supports the ag program” and “really enjoys what I do.” Mr. Gall credited his principal’s “farming background” and previous administrative experience at a high school with a very trad itional agriculture program for the support of his current program. Mr. Flood explained how his administra tion was extremely supportive of the program because they considered FFA to be a retention tool for students in the magnet program. When Mr. Flood offered to cancel a trip to an FFA event because it was being held a few days before the FCAT (standard ized exam), his principal responded, “No, whatever keeps those kids happy and in the program.” Two participants shared the methods they us ed to try and garner the support of their principals. Ms. Carter and her FFA officers met with the principal to “do a song and dance” and share information about the agricu lture program and FFA. Due to his concern abut standardized testing, the principal was more interested in “Well, how is your class affecting FCAT scores? What are you doing strategically for FCAT?” In return, Ms. Carter provided her principal wi th a chart that displayed the FCAT performance of all her students. Ms. Brown tried to gain the s upport of her principal by integrating other subjects into her curriculum, “there is science and I am doing math and I am doing reading and doing all this stuff, so I want you to keep me”. These tw o participants found that documenting their efforts to include other curriculum subject areas and prepare students for FCAT were helpfu l in obtaining additional support from their principals.

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68 The level of support from assi stant principals was deemed important by three of the participants. Even while Ms. Brown struggled with her principal, her assistant principal was “really, really, re ally, supportive. Without him I w ouldn’t be able to do anything.” She further explained how her assistant principal made an effort to learn more about Agricultural Education, The assistant principal, he’s kind of got a clue of everything that’s going on. He’s gone and visited schools with me. He’s gone to FFA events with me, he’s gone to workshops and stuff like that with me, so he kind of has a clue of what is involved. He’s gone over and seen several schools. Likewise, when Mr. Linder was trying to start his FFA chapter and encountered some initial reluctance from his principal, he found support from his assistant principal who had been at another middle school with an active FFA chapter and had “a very positive image in his mind of what FFA is and what agriscience is.” One of Ms. Fritz ’s assistant principals had been one of the agri culture teachers at that school and was very helpful with the agriculture facilities, esp ecially when Ms. Fritz encountered problems with the greenhouse. Many of the participants communicated more frequently with an assistant principal than a principal and found th e assistant principals to be very supportive of the program. Administrative obstacles to teacher vision. The category administrative obstacles to teacher vision was comprised of six axia l codes including administrative transition, administration’s vision for the program, lead teacher’s vision for the program, county supervisor’s vision for program, absence of appropriate equipmen t and supplies, and misperceptions at district level. The five par ticipants that had been teaching for over three years expressed high levels of administrative turnover. In Mr. Hill’s school, “we have seven administrators in the front office, one of them was here on my first day. In (my)

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69 five years (here), we will have completely rolled over the administ ration, some of them more than once.” For Ms. Brown, the depart ure of her first principal was seen as fortunate because the replacement principal wa s much more supportive of the agriculture program. However, in Ms. Carter’s school, th e principal who was instrumental in the implementation of the vet science curriculum was replaced by a principal who was not perceived to have a vested interest in the su ccess of the agriculture program. This rapid rate of administrative turnover made it difficult for the participants to maintain consistent levels of administrative support. Three of the participants faced challenges related to the principal’s vision for the program. Mr. Hill’s principal had been a form er agriculture teacher at the school and looked at the program from “a definite produc tion agriculture side. He feels that there needs to be more outside, getting dirty here. He feels that these kids that are even from this area can gain something from learning a little bit about hard work.” Yet, Mr. Hill desired to have an agriscience curriculum that was relevant to the students, so he challenged the vision of his principal, I say we are not going to raise cows in th e ghetto. I just tell him that’s not where this program is going. This is a magnet pr ogram and if you get a kid to ride the school bus for two hours and then he goe s home and tells mommy that we were outside playing in the garden all day…I th ink that’s going to cause some problems. When she started teaching at her current school, Ms. Brown was looking forward to keeping animals on campus to supplement her curriculum. She valued the experience she gained from working with animals while she was a student in Agricu ltural Education and hoped to provide her students with a simila r opportunity. However, the principal would not allow animals on campus which “crushed her a bit.”

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70 In addition to principals, other administra tors can have an im pact on the vision of the program. The vision that Mr. GallÂ’s lead teacher had for the agriculture program caused her to question the necessity of an agriculture class. Mr. Gall described his attempts to educate her about th e importance of agriculture to the county and to the state, SheÂ’s been a real challenge to try and e ducate on what IÂ’m trying to do as far as what the vision of where the program s hould be going. She sees the program as very, very traditional. Once she said th at her grandfather grew up on a farm and grew tomatoes in his backyard, so she kne w what agriculture was. She told me one time that she didnÂ’t really understand why they started my program because there wasnÂ’t any agriculture in (county) so there was no need for jobs, for students to be trained in agriculture. When I told he r there was, (county) was number two in receipts for agricultural sales, she said that didnÂ’t really matter because there wasnÂ’t any agriculture in Florida. When planning facilities and ordering supp lies, Mr. HillÂ’s county supervisor had a different perspective on what was needed in the program. Mr. Hill desired to have an innovative agriscience program, while the count y supervisor was perceived as trying to establish a program similar to other program s that were already in the county. Mr. Hill further explained, I think we still hold on to that this is th e way that itÂ’s always been idea. Just like when my supervisor, who is a great man, wa s wanting to build this school, he had on his plans, this is the way that itÂ’s alwa ys been done, so we have got to have it. WeÂ’ve always had drill presses, so you n eed one. He wanted to give me a welder and I said IÂ’m not going to be splicing genes with a welder, so I donÂ’t know why I need one. With his knowledge of plant molecular biology, Mr. Gall was looking forward to teaching plant biotechnology. When he arrived at his school he found that there was an absence of appropriate equipment and supp lies to begin the program that he had envisioned, It wasnÂ’t really set up to be a biotech nology lab. It was kind of like the view of what plant biotechnology was supposed to be, very limited around plant tissue culture and that was pretty much it. Even then a lot of the equipment that was ordered was not even sufficient to teach that.

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71 Mr. Gall had a different idea of the essent ial equipment, “When I think about plant biotechnology, I think about ge netic engineering and tran sformation and analyzing DNA and the equipment to do that”, but the neces sary equipment had not been ordered by the administration. Mr. Gall also shared the misperceptions that county level administrators had about the potential careers in the ag ricultural industry, which was ev ident when they created a proposed list of career academies, they did include agricultur al science…, it was an acad emy in basically food and agriculture related…the first option wa s a culinary option…the other one was agriculture. The first career that they liste d there was farming and not as agriculture production or anything but farm ing. That’s just not, fr om a marketing standpoint, that’s not very good because of the agriculture illiteracy of the public, but also that is very unrepresentative of what caree r paths are available for students in an agricultural career. There was no mention of the science, the biotechnology, geomatics. This publication reinforced the perception that students who enroll in agriculture classes are preparing to be farmers, which was a st ereotype that Mr. Gall was trying to overcome in his urban classroom. Several obstacles including administrative transition, the principal’s vision for the Agricultural Education program, the lead teacher’s vision for the program, and the absence of appropriate equipment and supp lies hindered the teacher’s vision for the Agricultural Education program. Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools. The category Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools was co mprised of axial codes including teacher flexibility within school restrictions, st udent-centered curriculum, and curriculum content. As previously mentioned, Ms. Brown was eager to teach about animal science, but her principal would not allow animals to be housed on the school campus. Although

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72 she was initially discouraged by this admini strative mandate, it did not deter Ms. Brown from going “gung ho about plants” and focu sing on horticulture and aquaculture. She realized that “we are going a different route b ecause I can’t have the barn I rea lly thought I would have.” Ms. Fritz and Mr. Linder st ressed the importance of a student-centered curriculum in an urban Agricultural Education progr am. Mr. Linder involved his students in curriculum planning by asking for their input on what they would like to learn about specific topics, “The first thing I do before I’m going to teach about plants, animals, or the environment is I ask them what they wa nt to know. Then I just combine that with what I think they should know.” Ms. Fritz described her goals for trying to make the curriculum more relevant for her students, I’m trying to get a dog grooming business going here because I feel like that’s the future of agriculture at (school) and this area, it’s getting the kids working with small animals. I don’t think the future is there in those cows and stuff…I think the focus as far as me appealing to the masse s of this student pop ulation, it’s going to have to be through the small animals stuff. Most of my kids, 90% of my kids have never been within five feet of a bovine an imal in their life. Probably never will be after they leave my class. But 80 to 85% of them have a cat or dog at home. I think it’s making agriculture relatable to t hose kids and it’s not through production. Definitely not in the urban area. Through his teaching experience, Mr. Flood lear ned the importance of having a practical application so students could comprehe nd and retain the subject matter, I don’t have the resources to have large anim als here or a very la rge animal facility, so it’s very hard for me to convey my message when I don’t have anything for students to apply it to. And I’m learning that as the year goes by that I need to…if I’m going to teach something I need to have an application. That’s the purpose of me teaching an applied science, if the st udents can be able to apply what they’re learning somewhere else. And when I was teaching last year, I was teaching more production. I was teaching the production of large animals…I talk ed about the beef industry, the hog industry and I had nothing to apply it to. I felt like it just went through one ear and out the other for some students.

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73 Mr. Gall and Mr. Linder also offered their opi nions on the appropriate curriculum content for urban schools. Mr. Linder discussed the importance of making the subject matter relevant to the students, while incorporating tradi tional agriculture, “I mean I think it is important to work in traditional agriculture. That can’t be your main focus, you know you have to teach it from the community or the consumer based.” Mr. Gall re-emphasized the value of implementing “more relevant, consumer based programs.” He described several changes that could be made to the agriculture curriculum to ensure that it was appropriate for urban students, Changing some of the other programs even that we have like the environmental horticulture programs, they can be good fo r students in urban se ttings, but as long as there is a focus on interiorscaping, small-scale specialty production of things, basically in places where th ere is not a lot of space. Hundred acre shade houses of two or three different crops, that’s not practical for an urban student. They can’t really wrap their mind around operating something like that. If you are talking about animals then more companion animals. Plants need to be houseplants, ornamental plants and just keeping the science in it a nd get back to the business side as well. Honestly, I don’t know if I can justify teaching my students about ruminant nutrition in-depth because none of them have ever had any experience raising cattle. It is beneficial for them to have kind of an understanding of how that is different, but I’m not going to spend a lo t of time telling them about roughage to grain ratios…because they are never going to be doing that. Just making it more relevant to urban settings. Mr. Hill argued that agriculture programs need ed to move away from a more traditional curriculum with an agriculture production focus to a curriculum that emphasized science concepts, I think agriculture itself, education has to get out of the good old boy mentality. We have to step back and make this the scien ce that it is. Agriculture is the original science. We’ve got to let people know that Agriculture Education is about everyone and not some country thing. We have got to focus on the kinds of programs like I have…we’ve got to get rid of those ag we lding classes and stuff like that that are just promoting a stereotype. We’ve got to train students to become scientists, not production farmers. Nobody needs training in being a production farmer, they are already doing it. If somebody is going to be a farmer, then they are coming from a farm and they already know how to do it. So we need to focus our vocation on scientists who are going to bett er our plants and animals.

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74 In contrast, Ms. Taylor promoted the in clusion of production agriculture in the curriculum, I know the big fad is not production ag, but consumption ag, but I don’t think the interest is there for consump tion ag. There is to an exte nt, but we need to change things and not be so old-fashioned that it’s just a crop field and it’s just steers and heifers. I don’t think we n eed to sacrifice our roots fo r urban schools by any means. We are living proof that you can have kids in the ghetto in an ag class, playing in the dirt. I don’t think we need to get so far away from that to change everything to consumption ag. I don’t think that’s the way. While Ms. Taylor felt that urban students we re interested in produc tion agriculture, Mr. Hill was not so optimistic about the level of st udent interest in a traditional agriculture curriculum in his school, I just think the kids intere sts are not in agriculture…so it’s an elective. They don’t have to take it. When it comes to, do I take art and sit inside where it’s air conditioned all day or go outsi de and get sweaty and dirty, the kids that go to this school don’t want to get sw eaty and dirty. Period. The participants reinforced the importan ce of implementing and delivering a studentcentered curriculum, but reported conflicting views on the appropriate curriculum content for an urban agriculture classroom. Value of Agricultural Educ ation to urban students. The category value of Agricultural Education to urban students c onsisted of axial codes comprised of students enrolled in Agricultural Education classes, students’ perceptions of agriculture, student reaction to subject matter, a nd student application of subj ect matter. When asked about their students, the participants responded very positively with statements such as “these are the best kids I’ve worked with and I’ve worked with over 250,000 kids”, “great kids”, “awesome students”, “well-behaved”, “love students”, and “I look forward to the students.” Ms. Campbell even appreciated her “urban students’ lack of agricultural knowledge.” This limited awareness could cont ribute to the students’ perceptions of

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75 agriculture that they carried into the classr oom. The participants felt that the students entering their classrooms have “no concept of agriculture”, “no understanding of the everyday impact on their lives”, and consider agriculture sy nonymous with “farming.” Mr. Hill explained the confusion that one of his students experienced when she received her class schedule, When she was recruited to be here, in the biotech program, the word agriculture wasn’t mentioned. When she came in for her first day of classes or got her schedule and it said Agriculture Foundations, she almost left (school name) and she is one of our most active FFA members. Likewise, Mr. Linder’s student s were “really upset” when they were placed in his elective agriculture cl ass at the beginning of the school year. Despite the initial perceptions that students may have a bout agriculture, three of the participants discussed the posit ive reaction of the students to the subject matter. Ms. Fritz stated, I like the fact that these kids are hungry fo r what we are trying to teach them. Joe Smith that has grown up on a dairy farm is not going to be that excited about learning about strawberries. But most of my kids here are. When I show these kids something, it would be minimal more than likely at a rural school but to them it’s very exciting and it’s very new and it ’s something that they don’t know. Mr. Flood had the opportunity to teach agricu lture to both magnet students and students in the general school population. He found th at both groups of students “embraced the subject matter and wanted to learn more about it.” Even after the initial disappointment that Mr. Linder’s students expr essed towards being enrolled in an agriculture class, he witnessed a drastic change in the students’ at titudes toward learning about agriculture. He felt his class gave the students “the chan ce to experience something different.” The students in Ms. Fritz’s class were very ex cited about learning and receptive to the veterinary science curriculum, “I attract the kids that want to l earn, that want to know

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76 what I am talking about, that are hungry to learn that material, that want to know about small animals, that want to learn dog breeds…” Ms. Brown was proud when she witnessed a former student applying the subj ect matter that she learned in her middle school agriculture class, She works at a daycare now and the kids are always landscaping the daycare, they are always playing with plan ts and she’s invited me over there to see. She works with their five year olds, they are little ki ds and they are always playing in the dirt and growing plants and flowers and it’s ju st great to see, hey she’s doing something that I taught her. Although Ms. Brown’s former student was not involved in the agriculture industry, she was able to transfer skills that she had lear ned in her agriculture class to her current job. The value of Agricultural Education to urban students was demonstrated by the quality of the students enrolled in the Agricultural Education classes, the students’ previous misperceptions of the agriculture industry, th e positive reaction of the students to the subject matter, and student appli cation of the subject matter. FFA in urban schools. The category FFA in urban schools was comprised of four axial codes consisting of FFA activities, st udent involvement, student achievement and alternative view of the importance of FFA. There were varying FFA enrollments among the nine schools, from a ch apter with 10 to 12 active memb ers, to a chapter with 438 middle school FFA members. The FFA members in each of th e participants’ schools par ticipated in a variety of FFA events including opening and closing ceremony contest, public speaking, vegetable identification, horse judging, quiz bowl, orname ntal horticulture demonstrations, and land judging. Due to the active involvement of his FFA members, Mr. Flood was better able to identify the contests that his students did not participate in,

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77 We haven’t done forestry in awhile, we haven’t done citrus, or the land judging, but everything else we’ve done. And we have students who are interested to do that. It’s kind of hard to prove to our admini stration that we’re goi ng to do two contests a year with 437 students. It just doesn’t make any sense, so we do almost all of them. Ms. Fritz stated that she found that the stude nts’ interests in pa rticular FFA events fluctuated from year to year and she was w illing to help them prepare for any contests that they were interested in, “I tell my kids I’ll do any cont est they want to do and I’ll say all it takes is for you to get four people toge ther and show up for practice twice a week and we’ll do it.” Several of the participants were excited to share about their students’ successes in FFA, despite the students’ limited agricultu ral experience. Ms. Campbell was pleased with the accomplishments of her extem poraneous speaker, “our state winner in extemporaneous, she had no prior ag background and she gets to go to state. So seeing that is a huge accomplishment in itself …she was nervous like anyone would be, but she did great.” Mr. Hill bragged on his land judging team, Try this on for size, in the middle of the city and a bunch of ki ds that have never had any experience with agriculture, we have one of the most successful land judging teams in (city). (School name), th ey are the kings, they have been doing this for many years, but the last two years in a row we have come in second only to (school name) in land judging. We have a very strong land judging team. Even though her extemporaneous speaker did not win a speaking contest, Ms. Brown was proud of her speaker’s desire to compete in the event, in spite of her limited English proficiency, The girl that did do extemporaneous, she’ s mainly a Spanish speaking girl, so it was really cool for her to learn all the stuff and be sp eaking in English. That was a challenge for her. Her English is not very good, so it was really cool, you always remember after.

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78 Ms. Campbell summed up how rewarding FFA success could be for agriculture students, “seeing their reaction when they place or get an award, they see all their hard work pay off…seeing them get so excited about that recognition or that ac knowledgement of their hard work.” While Ms. Brown’s FFA members participat ed in traditional FFA activities, she also had an alternative perspe ctive on the value of FFA fo r her students. FFA meetings were an opportunity to “keep them (students) off the streets mainly.” She explained the structure of the bi-monthly FFA meetings, We have fun. We’ve played soccer before. They like playing Uno, Monopoly. We’ll always order a pizza and just chill and hang out. Usually we do it on Fridays…we’ll stay until like 7:30, playi ng…It’s fun, it gives them something to do, keep them out of trouble. Whatever they decide they want to do, I’m all about it. Ms. Brown felt that this unconventional a pproach to FFA meetings was the most effective in getting her students involved in the organization. Obstacles to FFA involvement The category, obstacles to FFA involvement, was comprised of four axial codes consisting of student opportunities and involvement, turnover of student population, transportation obstacles, and promoting involvement in FFA. Mr. Gall felt that the multitude of extr acurricular activities and social opportunities available to students hindered their involvement in FFA. He explained, “they have so many different things that they can do on the weekends or after school” and “they have so many other opportunities at school competing for their time.” Similarly, Ms. Carter explained that not all paid FFA members at tended FFA meetings because “they’re high school kids, they’ve got lives and jobs and things like that.” Ms Brown found it difficult to maintain an active FFA chapter due to the high turnover of the student population,

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79 “since Christmas, I’ve had four of my six o fficers move and it’s like okay, I have two kids left, what do I do? Do I go out and start and get new officers?” Transportation obstacles also limited student involvement in FFA. Both Mr. Hill and Mr. Flood taught in magnet programs and had students enrolled in their programs who lived in all areas of the county and often far away from the school. Mr. Flood explained the reluctance of th e parents to allow their children to participate in afterschool activities, “The parent s are like no, you need to be on that bus at 3:40 and get home because if I have to leave you at schoo l till 4:30 or 5:00, you’re not getting home until 6 or 7 and that’s hard to sit in traffic and everything else it takes to get back down there. I lose a lot of students because of transportation.” Ms. Tayl or elaborated on the challenges of preparing a horse judging team, “a lot of these kids don’t have a ride to get anywhere. They can’t even stay after school because they don’t have anybody to pick them up.” Three of the teachers discussed some of the misconceptions that they had to overcome in order to promote student involve ment in the FFA. At her first school, Ms. Campbell found it very difficult to ed ucate the students about FFA, About breaking down the stereotypical re dneck farmers that I guess condescending lingo, um, it was difficult trying to come over that barrier and e ducate them. This is the benefit of this and this is the…what the leadership of that, this is how much fun you can have doing this and showing them and …it was difficult every year. In comparison, at Ms. Campbell’s current sc hool the FFA membership is four times (n=45) the FFA enrollment of her first sc hool, an increase she credits to family involvement, “a lot of their families are vested in it and they came in wanting to be in FFA.” She emphasized the importance of “show ing them other avenues and options that FFA has to offer” because often her students are under the impression that they “have to

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80 show an animal at the fair to be in FFA.” Mr. Gall faced similar obstacles when trying to organize the FFA chapter at his school. He had three students who had been FFA members in middle schools and were excited ab out continuing their participation in high school, but encountered reluctan ce from his other students, Everybody else was just kind of like this is the farming club and that was an automatic perception. So defeating that perception even amongst students that I would consider more open-minded and thi nking, being able to think outside the box or beyond themselves have had trouble get ting past that perception of it’s the farming club. Multiple obstacles to FFA involvement we re identified including multiple student opportunities, high turnover of student popul ation, transportation obstacles, and FFA promotion to urban students. Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban schools. The category SAE in urban schools consisted of SAE opport unities for students and lack of parental involvement in SAE. The SAE involvement of the students vari ed among the nine schools. Three of the teachers required all of their students to complete SAE projects. Mr. Flood required his students to “identify an SAE they can do at home and bring a report in.” Mr. Linder offered his students two op tions for completing th eir SAE projects. The students could choose to complete either an “agriscience project or a community service project.” Likewise, the students in Ms. Cam pbell’s classes could select an activity to complete for their SAE. The seventh graders c ould either research an agricultural career or detail the care that they provided for th eir pet (s). Ms. Campbell explained how a project as simple as raising a turtle could become an appropriate SAE, But with turtles, there’s not as much care as caring for a dog, so I always add a little bit more research asp ect to them, what’s the breed of turtle, how do you clean the tank, more care aspects….what’s their diet, what happens if they do get sick and what are the illnesses of that breed, a little bit more rese arch-based than the care.

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81 The 8th graders also had two op tions related to pet care or home improvement, They can do a very similar animal care, animal training, but a little more in-depth or if they don’t have a pet, there’s three home improvement options. They can do lawn care, you know mow lawns, they have to do the proper maintenance or their lawn equipment, talk about related jobs, things like that. Ther e’s landscaping where they can re-landscape an area of their house and talk about plants, are they native, non-native, seasons, why would you plant this here and then the last would be a garden. They could do a vegetable or herb garden and why did they choose that, is it the right season, are th ey getting pesticides or herbic ides if so, if not, what’s the benefits and non-benefits of that. Three of the participants described how many of their students’ SAEs were conducted at school due to the limited amount of space they had at home. Mr. Gall explained that the most common SAEs for his students were, agriscience projects and then some others doing small animal projects for the fair like a chicken or a rabbit or ra ising plants for the fair. Most of the students either live in apartments or condos or houses that are built on 60 by 100 square foot lots and so there’s not much space for them to be able to have any kind of project at home. The barn facilities on the school campus ma de it possible for the “subdivision and apartment kids” at Ms. Fritz’s school to ha ve large animal SAEs, which were more popular than small animal SAEs. Many of the st udents at Ms. Taylor’s school also kept their SAE projects at school, which “puts a whole lot more work on the teachers.” Ms. Carter emphasized the importance of helping students identify practical SAEs that would be beneficial in the future, Like these kids that are doing pig project s, unless you live in Iowa or Kansas or some place you’re not going into the pig industry. So having a SAE in a vet project, you know, we’re working with a quaculture maybe breeding fish or doing horticulture stuff, that’s so much more practical as far as whether you go to college or not, but you know, a lot of the kids…I ha ve maybe five kids that work at vet offices. So they’re able to apply what they’re learning. Two of the participants felt that a lack of parental involvemen t was a major barrier to the implementation and completion of SAE projects. Ms. Fritz described the

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82 “resistance on the parent’s pa rt” as “one of the biggest barriers to the kids doing a project.” She thought that since “it is not a way of life fo r these kids, it’s not something that these parents did when they were in sc hool and they realize th e value of.” Ms. Fritz also shared her perception about rural pa rents increased invo lvement in SAE, it’s almost like in a lot of rural schools it’s understood, if you want your steer to be weighed at the market, you’re going to find a truck and a trailer and you’re going to take it over there. For us it’s more of the student coming to you and saying, can you haul my steer? Ms. Taylor also attributed the lack of pa rental interest for lim iting SAE opportunities, “you can’t really get too creative with SAEs because no one is going to help. I mean you can only help so much as their advisor.” School characteristics. The category school characteris tics was comprised of two axial codes including size of school and pride in school. All nine of the schools had large student enrollments. Mr. Flood’s middle school had 1,200 students enrolled, with almost 440 students in the magnet program. Currently in its third year, Mr Gall’s school had 2,600 students. What he found surprising was, My high school that I teach at now, I can stand on the roof of that and I can see three other high schools that have 5,000 st udents. By the time it is all said and done, my high school is also expected to be 5,000 students. With 3,500 students, Ms. Carter’s school was so large that they divided the campuses into a campus specifically for 9thgrade students and a campus for 10th– 12thgrade students. This division of the campuses el iminated the opportunity for 9th grade students to enroll in her vet science course, “fre shman can’t come over to the main campus which is where my class is, so they can’t take vet one until they are sophomores” which “hurts our program big time.” The large student enrollme nt in Ms. Brown’s sc hool resulted in class sizes so large that not every student could have a chair,

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83 I have one [class] that’s 30 and I may have one that is 31. Every day we just pray that somebody is absent so everybody can ha ve a seat. When they are getting their new schedules in January, I had like 40 a nd I’m like okay, let’s start sitting on the ground. It was terrible and I finally had to complain, I’m like I can’t have kids sitting on the ground. Two participants discussed the impact of the school culture and the physical environment of the school on school pride. Mr Hill attributed the high rate of teacher turnover at his school to r ecurring problems in the school environment. One specific problem that was identified was related to student behavior, “our school has had more referrals and more suspensions than any other school in the county.” Even though Mr. Hill did not encounter any student problems in his classroom, he was still affected by the total school environment, If I could have my kids and never leav e my room, I would teach at this school forever. What gets under your skin, the thor n in your side at this school, is when you have to leave the room and when you ha ve to go deal with those discipline and problems that exist outside this cl assroom that you don’t see in here. Ms. Brown felt that the level of school pr ide was diminished due to the physical appearance of the school campus Initially, she thought the sc hool “was a jail. It was horrible. It’s kind of scary.” Also, she discussed how landscaping would improve the appearance of the school grounds, “this year I think definitely we need to do [landscape] our own school. Our own school is looking trashi er and trashier, it l ooks terrible and for them to have an ag program and look terrible.” Agriculture Teachers’ Outlooks on thei r Teaching Tenures in Urban Schools The category relevant to the agriculture teachers’ outlook on their teaching tenure in an urban school was influences on decisi on to continue teaching at current school. A framework detailing the relationship between the open codes, axial codes, and selective codes is shown in Figure A-4.

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84 Influences on Decision to Cont inue Teaching at Current School The category of influences on decision to continue teaching at current school was comprised of eight axial codes including de sired characteristics of new school, current outlook on continuation of urban teaching ca reer, current outlook on departure from urban teaching career, curriculum offerings, infl uence of family, concern for job security at particular school, opportunity to educate urban students abou t agriculture, and level of administrative support. Three of the participan ts had differing outlooks on their future careers in an urban school. Ms. Fritz intended to “stay as l ong as they let me” while Mr. Linder “would not teach forever in an urba n school.” Although Ms. Brown predicted that she would “always teach in an urban school”, she felt she would not “always teach at her current school.” Ms. Carter stated that her decision to continue teaching in an urban school was going to be influenced by the curric ulum that she would be able to teach. She planned on continuing at he r current school as long as she could teach, vet science or any kind of animal science. Obviously vet scien ce because I like the curriculum because that’s what I did before I started teaching. I don’t think I could teach horticulture. I could teach it, but I probably wouldn’t like it because it’s not my background. I’m qualified in Ag 6 th rough 12, so that means I can teach anything, but if it’s not in my b ackground then why…why would you? I mean sometimes it comes down to, do you want a job or do you not want to have a job. So, hopefully I won’t be in the situation where I have to teach something I don’t want to because I need the money. Four participants mentioned the influence of family on their future career plans. Mr. Gall felt that it would be more difficult to move from his current urban location if his family was “settled in. If we have children and they start school he re, it will be really difficult to move most likely.” Although Mr. Hi ll enjoyed living and t eaching in the city, he acknowledged that “I still ha ve some things about the coun try that I like.” Similarly, Mr. Linder planned to eventually relocate to a more rural area because “I don’t think a lot

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85 of country folk want to raise their families in big cities.” Ms. Brown expected that she would move due to “job opportunities” for he r husband. Mr. Flood felt his career decision was contingent on the level of support that he received from his administration, I feel like in an urban school, it’s ch allenging enough to interest students and to really get them involved in agricultural ac tivities and if we have an administration who are unsupportive, it makes it really difficult because it’s like how can we get these students involved when you’re saying we can’t do this, that, and the other. So I think the most important thing as far as me staying here will be support from my administration. The rapid growth in urban areas has led to a dramatic increase in the number of schools in urban school districts. This expansion put the jobs of two participants at risk to be eliminated. Ms. Taylor enjoyed teaching at her school, but was uncertain about her future there, “I’m kind of in a hard spot because they are opening two new schools. I’m probably going to get cut based on numbers alone .” Ms. Carters’s job was threatened as a result of the school budget, “whe n the new principal came, he had to make some cuts and we were potentially on the chopping block.” W ith the elimination of current positions, the participants were going to be forced to seek employment in another school. Although, Ms. Fritz had been offered jobs in rural programs, she made the decision to continue teaching in her cu rrent school because of the valu e of Agricultural Education to urban students, I was offered positions at (high school name) and (high school name) since I’ve been teaching at least three years out of the five and I did not want to go. I wanted to stay here because I feel like this is wh ere Ag Education is needed. It’s needed in the urban areas. Mr. Hill explained the characteristics that he would seek in a new teaching position, Everything I have here without the things that I don’t li ke. I would be looking for something that is more well-balanced in its student population, something that is more well-balanced in its faculty. We ha ve a very undiverse faculty, myself being the minority. I would like a more stable principal or not principal, but administration. I would like a place that ha s less-turnover and more respectability.

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86 The participants identified multiple influe nces on their anticipated teaching tenure including curriculum offerings, influence of family, concern for job security, level or administrative support, and desired ch aracteristics in an a new school. Grounded Theory From the data analysis, a grounded theory was developed to describe the career experiences of the nine novice urban agricultu re teachers who participated in the study. Strauss and Corbin (1990), defined grounded theory as, A theory that is inductively derived from the study of the phenomenon it represents. That is, it is discovered, deve loped, and provisionally verified through systematic data collection and analysis of data pe rtaining to that phenomenon. Therefore, data collection, analysis, and theo ry stand in reciproc al relationship with each other. One does not begin with a theory and then prove it. Rather, one begins with an area of study and what is relevant to that area is allowe d to emerge (p. 23). Charmaz (2003) stressed the importance of usin g the analyzed data to create theoretical categories instead of trying to “fit” the data into pre-existing categories. She also alluded to the adaptive nature of grounded theory, “grounded theory is durable because it accounts for variation; it is flexible because researchers can modi fy their emerging or established analyses as condi tions change or further data are gathered” (Charmaz, 2003, p. 252). While a reference citing a specific numbe r of participants needed to create a grounded theory was unattainable, Strauss a nd Corbin (1990) emphasized the importance of theoretical saturation. In order to r each saturation, the researcher used probing questions for continued expansion of the part icipants’ responses, unt il new and relevant information was no longer provided by the participants. The grounded theory presented conceptually in Appendix B illustrates the multi ple influences that made varying impacts on the participants’ past, present, and future career experiences.

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87 The personal influences and human influen ces that encouraged the participantsÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Education are in cluded in Circle A and Circle B of Figure B-1. The positive experiences that the participants had while they were Agricultural Education students and FFA members inspired them to pursue a teaching career. The chance to work with children and animals was also identified as an influence. Former agriculture teachers and college advisors were the primary human influences that led to the participantsÂ’ career decisions. The personal influences relevant to the participantsÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Education in urban schools are depicted in Circle C of Figure B-1. Several participants expressed a desire to live and teach in an urban area. The participants were also drawn to an urban school by the opportunity to st art their own program and teach a specific curriculum, such as plant biot echnology or veterinary science. Also, the established social and professional networks in urban areas suppo rted the participantsÂ’ decisions to accept teaching positions in urban schools. While prio r experiences such as field experiences and student teaching experiences encouraged so me of the participants to teach in an urban school, such experiences did not discourage participants from urban teaching careers. In Circle D, the human influences relate d to the participantsÂ’ decisions to seek employment in urban schools are noted. Particip ants responded to the publicized need for an agriculture teacher at a particular ur ban school and were actively recruited by the county supervisor for Agricultural Education. The participantsÂ’ families also supported their move to an urban location.

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88 The perceptions that the pa rticipants held about ur ban and rural schools are included in Circle E. The few expectations that the participants had about the school climate and student demographics did not discourage their career decisions. The participantsÂ’ perceptions regard ing rural schools reinforced their decisions to teach in urban schools. The current experiences of novice agricu lture teachers in urban schools were categorized into encouraging and discouragi ng experiences. The encouraging experiences could potentially support a teacherÂ’s decision to continue teaching at their current school, while a discouraging experience could potentia lly encourage a teacher to leave their current position. Some current e xperiences could either be considered encouraging or discouraging experiences. The encouraging current experiences are illust rated in Circles F, G, H, I, and J. The participants found personal benefit in their ability to separate their personal life and their professional life and in contri buting to the well-being of th eir students. As well, the presence of cultural diversity and its inclusion in the curric ulum was beneficial to both the teachers and the students. The participants also stressed the value of Agricultural Education in educating urban students about th e importance of agriculture. Participants were encouraged by the level of administra tive support that they received for their programs, level of parental involvement, a nd the opportunity to ma ke the curriculum and SAE meaningful for their students. The discouraging current experiences are depi cted in Circles K, L, M, and N. The administrationÂ’s value of the Agricultural E ducation program was continually viewed as being in a state of flux due to the high ra te of administrative tu rnover and differing, and

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89 sometimes conflicting visions, for the Agricult ural Education program. Lack of parental involvement and school characteri stics such as school size and the level of pride in school were also identified as disc ouraging experiences. With the level of importance placed on FFA, attempts to overcome the multiple obst acles to student involvement in FFA was viewed as very discouraging. Also, particip ants described difficulties they faced with delivering an appropriate curriculum and identifying relevant SAE opportunities for urban students. However, these discouraging experiences may be considered encouraging experiences with the teachers Â’ abilities to maintain a successful Agricultural Education program in spite of the challenges. The influences on the partic ipantsÂ’ decisions to conti nue teaching in urban schools are included in Circles O, P, Q, and R. On e participant identified student, faculty, and administrative characteristics that he would s eek in a new school. Also important to the participants was level of administrative support, curriculum offerings, level of job security, and raising a family.

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90 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION This qualitative study sought to explore a nd describe the care er paths of novice urban agriculture teachers. To carry out this study, a criterion sample was used to select nine individuals who graduated from a teach er education program and had been teaching in an urban school for one to eight years. Each of the teachers participated in an in-depth interview to share about the influences on th eir initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education, the influences on their decisions to teach Agricultural Education in an urban school, their current experiences in urban schools, and their outlooks on their future teaching careers in their current schools. Results from the data analysis were pres ented in Chapter 4. From the 178 pages of data, 71 axial codes were grouped into 20 selective codes. Th ese selective codes composed the categories appropriate for each of the research questions. The axial codes included in each category provide additional support to the findings of the study. The categories relevant to the teachersÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Education included teacher background and decision to pursue teacher certification in Agricultural Education. The categories signifi cant to the teachersÂ’ decisi ons to teach Agricultural Education in an urban school included prio r experience in urban schools, desired location, decision to teach in a particular school, level of influence from family, participantsÂ’ perceptions of urban schools, and participantsÂ’ perceptions of Agricultural Education in rural schools. Th e categories that emerged from the data specific to the participantsÂ’ experiences while teaching in an urban school included bene fits to the

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91 teacher, contribution of cultural diversity to th e classroom environment, level of parental support, administrative support for Agricultur al Education, administrative obstacles to teacher vision, Agricultural Education curricu lum in urban schools, value of Agricultural Education to urban students, FFA in urba n schools, obstacles to FFA involvement, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) in urban schools, and sc hool characteristics. The category pertinent to the agriculture teacher s’ outlooks on their teaching tenure in an urban school was influences on decision to continue teaching at current school. This chapter will present key findings from the re search and discuss the implications for practitioners and for future research. Key Findings Teachers’ Decisions to Teac h Agricultural Education Before the participants began to consid er the possibility of teaching in urban schools, they made a decision to teach Ag ricultural Education. One of the primary influences on the teachers’ initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education was prior involvement in Agricultural Education and FFA. In a study of entry-phase teachers in Texas, Edwards and Briers (2001) found that 91% (n = 82) of the teachers were involved in FFA during high school. Ms. Brown expre ssed how much she “loved” her high school agriculture class and Ms. Taylor describe d the personal contribution of FFA, “the different leadership activities and things th at I did in FFA kind of formed who I am today”. The participants’ interests in the agri culture curriculum and active participation in FFA supported their decisions to continue th eir association with Agricultural Education, only in the role of an agriculture teacher. Similarly, in his study of preservice t eachers completing their student teaching during Fall 2004, Rocca (2005) found that over 80% of the participants had been

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92 previously enrolled in a high school Agricult ural Education class, but did not detail how such experience contributed to the career deci sions of the participants. Despite different factors that encouraged the pa rticipants to enroll in Agricultural Education during middle school or high school, the positive experien ces resulting from enrollment in an agriculture class and involvement in FFA enc ouraged their career decision. Influential factors identified by several of the participants’ included their interest and affinity for the subject matter, rapport with the agriculture teacher, and the pers onal benefit provided by numerous FFA opportunities. This finding offers several implicatio ns for the recruitment of undergraduate Agricultural Education majors. Recruitment efforts should be di rected at high school Agricultural Education student s who express an interest in the course content and are involved in FFA. The participants who had b een FFA members shared about their active FFA involvement, ranging from participation in Career Development Events to showing livestock at county and state fairs. The multit ude of FFA activities at the local, district, and state level provide numerous recruitm ent opportunities. Student s who have already developed an affinity for FFA through thei r involvement in the organization may be interested in continuing their work wi th FFA as a middle school or high school agriculture teacher. Of the nine participants, only one, Mr. Fl ood, grew up in a metropolitan area. When reflecting on his own experien ces as a student, he recalled the day he first entered his middle school agriculture class, he “knew not hing about agriculture at all.” Through his involvement in Agricultural Education, Mr. Flood develope d a “love for the field of agriculture”, which helped encourage his decisi on to become an agricu lture teacher. It is

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93 important to examine the reaction that more urban students have to the Agricultural Education curriculum. Expansion of Agricultural Education programs in urban areas will not only increase the numb er of students interested in agri culture, but will also expand the pool of prospective urban agriculture teacher s. Quality agriculture teachers are needed to attract students to urban programs and help students develop and sustain their interests in agriculture. Current urban agriculture te achers who have had numerous students pursue careers in Agricultural Education could assist new urban agriculture teachers in creating and delivering an Agricultural Education progr am that supports studentsÂ’ interests in agriculture and encourag es their entry into th e teaching profession. The participants also expressed a desire to work with either children or animals. A few of the participants expressed their love of children and wanted the opportunity to work with students because they felt they woul d be able to make a difference in the lives of students. Likewise, Hovatter (2002) found preservice Agricultural Education teachers were attracted to the profession by the opportuni ty to interact with students. Agriculture teachers have many opportunities to work with students in the formal classroom environment and in informal settings. However, the desire to work with animals was an influential factor that had not been previ ously identified. Indivi duals who truly enjoy working with animals may consider the opportuni ty to teach veterinary science or animal science as an excellent career option. The impact of a former agriculture teacher was very important to several of the participants. In high school, when Mr. Flood wa s certain he did not want to become an agriculture teacher, his agriculture teachers we re able to promote the benefits of the profession and convince him to consider a teaching career. Similar to Ms. Brown, high

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94 school students may experience some confusion about their future career path and seek out their agriculture teacher for advice. The career guidance provided by agriculture teachers can help students identify future car eer possibilities. The participants expressed a level of respect and appreciation for their form er agriculture teachers. and felt they would be able to make a similar impact on the lives of their students. Du e to the agriculture teacher’s role in the career decisions of his/ her students, it is imperative for agriculture teachers to promote a positive image of the teaching profession. When reflecting on what she enjoyed about teaching, Ms. Brown stated “it’s so much fun coming here”. Students may be unaware of the personal satisfacti on derived from teaching, so agriculture teachers need to explicitly share with their students the many intrinsic benefits associated with the profession. In addition to marketing programs to high school agriculture students, University Agricultural Education departments also need to market programs to agriculture teachers to equip them as an initial source of info rmation for their students. As was previously mentioned, Ms. Brown was unsure about her fu ture career and her agriculture teacher “told me you should be an ag teacher.” If agriculture teachers are knowledgeable of the teacher education courses and requirements, as well as the career opportunities for graduates, they can encourage students to enroll in the Agricultural Education department. Also, if agriculture teachers have an established rapport with Agricultural Education faculty they have identifiable cont acts to whom they can refer their students for advice on potential majors and caree rs within Agricultural Education. College advisors were important in the career decision process, especially to individuals who had no prior involvement in Agricultura l Education or who were

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95 pursuing another major. Even though Ms. Campbell was hesitant about the idea of becoming a teacher, her advisor in the F ood Science and Human Nutrition department encouraged her to visit several agriculture programs and changed her career outlook. It is important for faculty advisors in Universi ty Agricultural Education departments to establish and maintain relationships with facu lty advisors in other departments so they remain current about career opportunities in Agricultural Education and can refer potential students to appropriate contacts with in the Agricultural Education department. Additionally, encouragin g prospective Agricultural E ducation majors with no prior experience in school-based agriculture programs to visit school sites can be an effective recruiting tool. Initially, Ms. Brown was relu ctant to pursue a teaching career because she “didn’t want to be stuck in a classroom.” Fo r individuals who may c ite similar reasons for their aversion to teaching, the opportunity to visit an agriculture classroom may modify their existing beliefs about teaching agriculture Through such visits, prospective teachers can gain an understanding of the scope of the Agricultural Education curriculum, the numerous opportunities for the inclusion of ha nds-on activities and application of subject matter, and student engagement through FFA and SAE. Some prospective teachers may question their ability to teach Agricultural Education because they did not grow up on a farm or have had little exposure to production ag riculture. Visits to agriculture programs could help dispel the beliefs that these individuals have a bout their inability to teach Agricultural Education. Teachers’ Decisions to Teach Agricult ural Education in an Urban School The participants had varying degrees of prior experience in urban schools. Two participants had attended school and complete d internships in rural schools and had no prior experience in urban schools. Three of the participants were raised in urban locations

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96 and attended urban schools. A few of the pa rticipants had the opportunity to gain exposure to urban schools through field trips, school visits, and vol unteer experience. Of the nine participants, four completed teachi ng internships in urban schools. Two of the participants discussed the cont ribution of their internship ex perience to their decision to teach in an urban school. Ms. Brown felt her in ternship helped prepare her to teach the culturally diverse student population of th e school where she would be teaching. Ms. Brown enjoyed working with the ethnically di verse students at her student teaching site and wanted the opportunity to teach in a diverse school. Although he grew up in a rural area, Mr. Linder wanted to teach in an urban ar ea, but was uncertain of a future career in Agricultural Education. He found his teaching internship to be “very, very productive” and enjoyed his experience because he was “able to see from a different perspective how much children can be helped by Agricultural Education.” Prior research has documented the influe nce of field experiences and teaching internship experiences on preservice teach ers’ attitudes towards the urban school environment (Fry & McKinney, 1997; Haberman & Post, 1992; Heinemann et al., 1992; Marxen & Rudney, 1999; Pagano et al., 1995; Rushton, 2000; Rushton, 2003; Wolffe, 1996). From these participants we can conclude that experience in an urban school is not a prerequisite for every preservice teacher who accepts a teaching position in an urban school. The participants who a ttended field trips to urban sc hools did not elaborate on any reinforcement or change that occurred in their prior beliefs about urban schools as a result of the trips they took. As was prev iously mentioned, two of the participants’ student teaching experiences rein forced their decisions to se ek employment in an urban

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97 school. Additional research is needed to e xplore if these types of experiences had any influence on teachers who would not cons ider teaching in an urban school. The participants’ desired teaching and livi ng locations encouraged them to seek teaching positions in urban areas. Previous studies have concluded that preservice teachers are likely to seek teaching positions in or very near their hometown and in a similar environment (Easter et al., 1999; Gilbert, 1995; Werner, 1993; Zimpher, 1988). Two of the participants from urban areas bega n teaching in their hometowns or in similar environments. Additional research is needed to determine if more preservice teachers who were raised in urban areas desire to teach in their hometown or in a similar city. The current research focuses on the desired livi ng location and teaching location of preservice teachers who are primarily from rural or suburban backgrounds. If preservice teachers who were raised in metropolitan areas expres s a desire to return to urban locations, recruitment efforts should focus on urban student s who could return to teach Agricultural Education in their hometowns or in similar environments. The teachers who grew up in non-urban loca tions were also encouraged to seek jobs in urban areas. It is important to not e that while one participant was willing to relocate to Orlando for a teaching position, sh e would have been unwilling to move to Miami because, “it would scare me…it’s ju st a big city.” Consequently, when encouraging students to consider teaching positions, it could be beneficial to refer to a specific city rather than just using the generic and potential ly negative term “urban area”. By helping preservice students make personal connections with an area, they may feel more comfortable and be willing to cons ider a teaching positi on within the county. Although Mr. Gall had no desire to live in an urban area, he was attracted to an urban

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98 school by some of the characteri stics of the agriculture program that will be discussed in detail later in the chapter. Preservice teacher s may be so concerned with the location of an urban school, they overlook some of the benefits associated w ith accepting a teaching position in an urban program. Taking preservi ce teachers on field trips to urban programs could increase their familiarity and help them recognize some of the advantages of teaching in an urban school. Six of the teachers were very responsive to the need for an agriculture teacher. They revealed various motivations for accepting the position including the need for a job, the potential closure of the program, and the de sire to help the current teachers. Without the publicized need for an agriculture teacher in these various schools, the participants would have been unaware of the job opportunities. It is important that the job openings in urban schools are well publicized through communication with potential teachers and teacher educators, job posting boards at the university, and job listings on the websites of professional organizations and the National FFA Organization. The use of these various methods can also help attract potentia l teachers from out of the state. The county agriculture supervis ors of these participants were also helpful in the effort to place agriculture teachers in urban programs. The supervisors actively recruited preservice teachers and promoted the job opportu nities within their respective counties. Additionally, the supervisor serv ed as a primary contact for the participants and assisted them in arranging school visits. Because urban centers are more likely to have multiple openings, urban supervisors are more likely to be able to match teacher interests with available positions. Due to the administrative hierarchy of urban school districts, the role of the agriculture supervisor is of critical importance. Applying for a job in an urban

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99 school can be an intimidating process for a pr eservice teacher. The agriculture supervisor can provide personal assistance to a preservice teacher as he/she navigates through the human resources department of a large urban district. Also, county supervisors are often more knowledgeable about the characteristics of the urba n agriculture programs and better able than principals to respond to quest ions of preservice t eachers. While this study identified successful recruiting strategies used by agriculture supervisors in urban districts, it would be beneficial to examine the characte ristics of agriculture supervisors who are effective recruiters in rural a nd suburban school distri cts. The recruiting strategies used to draw ag riculture teachers to rural a nd suburban schools may also be successful in attracting agriculture t eachers to urban school districts. Two of the participants we re drawn to a specific teaching position by the other teacher(s) in the program. The second teacher in Ms. FritzÂ’s school offered her the chance to select the classes she want ed to teach and the FFA activ ities that she would oversee. Ms. Taylor was attracted to he r position by the persona l attributes of th e other teacher at her school. Inservice teachers need to recogni ze their contribution in recruiting preservice teachers to fill available positions If a preservice teacher is considering a job in a multiteacher program, the other teacher(s) need to meet with that individual to discuss class assignments and teaching responsibilities. In addition, allowing the preservice teacher to observe at the school for several days can provi de them with an opportunity to learn more about their potential colleagues and the program. A few of the participants were drawn to a particular urban school because of the opportunity to teach a specific curriculum, such as vet science or plant biotechnology. The participants developed interests in th ese curriculum areas through some of their

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100 undergraduate courses and prior work experien ce. Two of the partic ipants felt if they accepted a position in a rural school, they would be responsible for teaching a more general agriculture curriculum while they preferred to specialize in biotechnology. These participants considered rural teachers to be curriculum generalists, while they felt teaching in an urban school would allow them to be a curriculum specialist. During her time as a middle school agriculture teacher Ms. Carter had taught a more general agriculture curriculum but was attracted to he r current job by the opportunity to teach the veterinary science classes. By identifying th e various curricula that are taught in urban areas, future teachers may be interested in teaching at a particular urban school for the opportunity to teach a specia lized course of study. Three of the participants felt more comf ortable accepting a teaching position in an urban district where they had an estab lished professional network consisting of agriculture teachers who would be willi ng to mentor the new teacher. Beginning a teaching career can be a frightening experience and some teachers feel very isolated from other teachers within their schools (Mundt, 1991). Having access to other teachers who can answer questions and offer support can be very reassuring to most teachers, especially novice teachers. Although Mr. Flood considered teaching pos itions in another urban district, he made the decision to return to the urban city where he had grown up. In his hometown, he already had an establishe d social network made up of family and friends he would not have ha d in another urban location. The participantsÂ’ families had minimal influence on their career decisions. While Ms. BrownÂ’s mother shared negative experien ces from her teaching career in an urban school, Ms. Brown did not envi sion teaching in any environment, other than an urban

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101 one. Although Ms. FritzÂ’s family tried to c onvince her to teach in a rural school, she decided that she would prefer teaching in an urban area. A fe w of the participants shared about the surprise of their families toward s their decision to become an Agricultural Education teacher, yet their families offered no opinions regarding the decision to teach in an urban school. The spouses of two of th e participants were ve ry supportive of the move to an urban area. This level of s upport was evidenced by the spousesÂ’ willingness to relocate to a completely new area and pursu e education at a different institution. While the participantsÂ’ families were not overly s upportive or critical of the participantsÂ’ decisions to teach in an urban school, they di d not try to discourage the participants from accepting teaching positions in urban areas. This implied support may have influenced the participantsÂ’ career choices If preservice teachersÂ’ spouses question the possibility of teaching in an urban school, they should be invited to tour th e school facilities and provided with more information about the program. Mr. GallÂ’s spouse was allowed to participate in the interview process. As a result, she recognized the benefits of the teaching position and supported her husbandÂ’s decision to accept the job. Previous research has documented the multitude of beliefs that preservice teachers have regarding the context of urban school s (Aaronsohn, 1995; Gilbert, 1997; Shultz et al., 1996; Socoski & Hynes, 1991, Tiezzi & Cross, 1997). When asked to recall any beliefs about urban schools they had prio r to beginning their teaching careers, the participants mentioned perceptions that they had of the potential challenges present in an urban school environment, decreased student inte rest in FFA, and the cu ltural diversity of students. Two of the participants thought th e urban school environment would be a more challenging environment in which to teach wh en compared to schools in rural areas. Two

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102 participants believed there would be little stude nt interest in FFA. In regards to student demographics, one participant was concerned about being a minority in a school with a predominantly African American student populat ion while another participant anticipated a larger percentage of Caucas ian students than was actually in the school. However, as a group, the participants discovered that their prior beliefs were inaccurate. Mr. Linder described his school environment as a “war m bath everyday.” Mr. Hill and Ms. Fritz found their urban students were eager to get in volved in FFA activities. While Ms. Brown and Mr. Hill did interact with a large number of minority stud ents on a daily basis, they did not encounter any problems specific to race. University Agricultural Education faculty could help future teachers formulat e more accurate ideas regarding the urban school context by inviting novice urban teachers to speak to preservice teachers about the beliefs they had prior to begi nning their urban teaching career and the realities of their current teaching career. Many of the participants had perceptions regarding Agricu ltural Education in rural schools. Several of the participants felt more comfortable teaching urban students because they thought rural students might know mo re than the teacher as a result of their rural upbringing and exposure to production ag riculture. Ms. Fritz was concerned that rural students would be “telling me what I needed to know” and Ms. Brown shared her recent embarrassment when rural students “ta ught me how to tag a cow because I didn’t even know.” This belief was common among th e participants who had not grown up on a farm. The perceptions the participants had re garding the knowledge of rural students was concerning, because it indicated the teachers were not confiden t in their ability to teach students from any background. Teacher education programs need to make efforts to assist

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103 preservice teachers in enhancing their level of efficacy so they will f eel confident in the delivery of an engaging and relevant agricu lture curriculum to any student audience. According to Darling-Hammond (2000), wellprepared teachers have a significant influence on student achievement. During t eacher preparation courses, preservice teachers should discuss relevant curriculum topics and activities for various student audiences. Additionally, the preservice t eachers could develop and deliver lessons appropriate for different audiences in a c linical setting. The comp letion of early field experiences in middle and high school classrooms in rural and urban se ttings could assist preservice teachers in developi ng the necessary confidence to teach agriculture to a diverse student audience. One participant expressed her beliefs about the role of FFA in a rural Agricultural Education program. She believed some rural te achers were focusing too much of their efforts on FFA and ignoring the importance of the agriculture curriculum. Also, this participant assumed the parents would expect the primary focus of the agriculture program to be FFA, resulting in an em phasis on team preparation for Career Development Events. The differences betw een urban agricultur e programs and rural agriculture programs as related to studen t knowledge, parental expectations, and FFA participation remain largely unexplored. Res earch should be conducted to identify the similarities and differences in urban and rural Agricultura l Education programs. University teacher educators can play an important role in the preparation of preservice teachers for urban schools. However, most agricultural teacher educators are Caucasian males who were raised in sm all towns (Swortzel, 1996), with limited experience in an urban environment. In order to become more knowledgeable about

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104 urban programs, immersion programs shoul d be offered for teacher educators. Participating teacher educators could spe nd one to two weeks in different urban agriculture programs observing classrooms, in teracting with students, and interviewing teachers. Such experiences could help teach er educators develop a better understanding of Agricultural Education in urban school s, which could influence their teacher preparation courses and selection of fi eld experience and internship sites. TeachersÂ’ Experiences while Teaching in an Urban School The current experiences of an agriculture teacher can have an influence on their teaching tenure in an urban school. The participants identified both benefits and challenges associated with teaching Agricult ural Education in an urban school. On a personal level, two of the participants felt they were able to separate their personal lives from their professional lives, something they didnÂ’t think they woul d be able to achieve as easily if they were teaching in rural school s. Ms. Carter thought that in a rural area there would be constant pressure for Agricultural Education to be the foremost priority in an agriculture teacherÂ’s life, whereas she beli eved teaching in an urban area allowed the teacher much more personal freedom. Ms. Brown valued the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of her students. Sin ce she felt that many of her students did not have appropriate role models within their families, she was willing to serve as a mother figure and role model to her students. As a result of the large proportion of nontraditional family structures among urban stude nts, they may be more likely to look to their teacher as a parental figure. Some ag riculture students may even spend more time with their agriculture teachers than they do with their parents or guardians. Therefore, it is important for urban agriculture teachers to serve as role models for their students.

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105 Participants from one urban district discussed how collaboration among the agriculture teachers in the district personally benefited them. They used the time during regularly scheduled meetings to share lesson plan ideas and resources. As relatively new teachers in the county, these meetings help ed the participants feel supported by the experienced teachers in the county. This colla boration encouraged the teachers to develop personal relationships with each other that al so enhanced their prof essional relationships. While the teachers in Ms. Ta ylorÂ’s county did not hold regular meetings, she was reassured by the level of assistance provi ded to her by the other teachers in her department. Ms. Taylor felt very comforta ble going to any of her co-teachers with questions or for help. This finding reinforces the importa nce of mentoring among urban agriculture teachers. In addition to collabo rating with other urban agriculture teachers within the same county, networking opportuni ties should be provided for urban teachers at professional meetings on th e state and national level. Culturally diverse student populations were evident in the partic ipantsÂ’ classrooms. The student enrollments in Agricultural E ducation were composed predominately of African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic students. While Easter et al. (1999) and Werner (1993) report that teachers may quest ion their ability to re late to students of different cultural backgrounds, two of the part icipants specifically sought out teaching positions that would allow them to work w ith a diverse group of students. These two participants and one addi tional participant acknowledged how much they enjoyed learning about the cultural heritage of their students and felt that the inclusion of culture in the classroom enhanced the learning environment.

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106 Due to the ethnically diverse student popul ations found in urban schools, it is important for agriculture teachers to apprecia te cultural diversity. Preservice agriculture teachers nationwide are predomin ately raised in rural hometowns that provide limited opportunities for exposure to cultural diversit y. According to Rocca (2005), 86% of the preservice teachers who completed teaching in ternships in Fall 2005 were raised in a rural location. As a result, they may not recogn ize the contributions th at student diversity can make to the school environment. During early field experiences, preservice teachers should be provided the opportunity to work with diverse groups of students. These experiences could help preservice teache rs develop a more thorough understanding and appreciation for culturally diverse classroom s. Additionally, preservice teachers should be encouraged to discuss, design, and pres ent activities and lesson plans that allow students to showcase their unique heritages in the classroom. In addition to working with culturally di verse students, participants had various experiences with parental involvement. While several participants noted the importance of parental involvement, they discussed widely varying le vels of parental support among the schools. Ms. Brown, who taught agriculture as an electiv e in an inner-city middle school, reported minimal levels of parent al involvement in the school. She found her efforts to encourage parents to get involved in the FFA chapter to be unsuccessful. Mr. Flood had a similar experience with the parent s of the students he taught in an elective class for the general school population. He believed the work schedules of the parents prevented them from becoming involved at the school. In contrast, Mr. Flood received an overwhelming amount of parental support from the parents of his magnet students who were “pro-education for their students and no ma tter what, it’s for th eir child.” Mr. Flood

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107 stated a common misperception of the magnet program was “students are high socioeconomic”, but he pointed to his observa tion that his magnet students reflected the demographics of the general school population. However, there was a difference in th e culture of Mr. Flood’s magnet middle school students compared to the middle school students in Ms. Brown’s elective agriculture class. The most notable differences existed in student enrollment in the program and grade requirements to remain in the program. At Mr. Flood’s school, students were selected for the program based on prior academic achievement and the completion of an essay. In contrast, “they ju st throw kids in” to Ms. Browns’ classes. Additionally, the students in Mr Flood’s school were required to maintain a certain grade point average to remain in the magnet program. If students did not meet the grade requirement, they would have to return to th eir zone schools. Due to the organization of magnet agriculture programs and agriculture el ectives, certain characteristics and issues are unique to each type of class setting. Both types of classes are found in urban programs, so continued research is needed specific to magnet ag riculture programs and elective agricultu re classes in urban schools. With the rapid turnover of administration, several of the participants experienced fluctuating levels of support from administ ration. When Ms. Brow n was initially hired, her principal was supportive of the agriculture program. However, that principal was replaced before the start of the school year by a principal who was not supportive of the program. After two years and another principa l change, Ms. Brown felt that she received adequate assistance from her administrators. Li kewise, most of the participants felt well supported by their school administration at th e time data were collected. Two of the

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108 participants described the efforts they had ma de to garner support from their principals. The participants perceived their principals were primarily concerned with the FCAT performance of students, so in response the participants documented the FCAT scores of Agricultural Education student s and the integration of othe r curriculum subjects into the agriculture curriculum. Teacher educators s hould model strategies that preservice teachers can use to assist students in prep aration for standardized testing and for integrating other curriculum areas. Preservice teachers can also deve lop lesson plans that integrate other curriculum subjects to use during early field experiences and student teaching. Principals, in cooperation with an administrative te am, determine the course offerings for each specific urban middle and high school; therefore, it is important for administrators to have positive perceptions of agriculture classes. Kalme and Dyer (2000) found that secondary school principals in Iowa held favorable perceptions of agriculture programs, courses, and teachers. A similar study should be conducted to determine urban school administratorsÂ’ beliefs about Agri cultural Education in urban schools. Additionally, administrators w ho are reluctant to include Ag ricultural Education in the course offerings should be interviewed in an effort to further unde rstand their perceptions of agriculture classes. Three of the participants acknowledged how supportive th eir assistant principals were of the Agricultural Education program Continual effort needs to be made to promote Agricultural Education to urban pr incipals and encourage them to include Agricultural Education as part of the co mplete school curriculum. However, similar efforts should be made to involve assistan t principals in Agricultural Education.

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109 The participants identified several administrative obstacles that hindered the teacherÂ’s vision for the program. As was discussed previously, the transition of administrators led to varying levels of suppor t for the Agricultural Education program. It was difficult for participants to establish ra pport with administrators in the limited time they remained at the school. The level of ad ministrative transition is increased in urban school districts where new schools are being opened every year. The opportunity for an administrative promotion or to work in a brand new school often draws administrators from their current schools. The perceptions of county and school admi nistrators challenged three of the participantsÂ’ beliefs on the appropriate curr iculum and necessary facilities for their programs. Although Mr. HillÂ’s principal was a form er agriculture teache r, Mr. Hill felt he expected the curriculum to be more trad itional and emphasize production agriculture more than Mr. Hill preferred. Ms. BrownÂ’s principal had a different view of the agriculture class, which prevented her from housing any animals on campus. Her principalÂ’s aversion to raising small and la rge animals modified Ms. BrownÂ’s vision for the program and curriculum. The prior agricultural experiences of the lead teacher for Mr. GallÂ’s department caused her to question the need for an agricu lture class. Due to her narrow perception regarding the scope of the ag riculture industry in Florid a, she did not recognize the contribution Agricultural Edu cation could make to student sÂ’ futures. While Mr. Hill envisioned a classroom with the appropriate laboratory facilities to complement his biotechnology curriculum, th e county agriculture superv isor had a different idea regarding the equipment needs of the progr am. The county supervisor felt that some

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110 equipment, such as a welder and a drill press, were absolutely essential for any agriculture program regardless of the curriculum focus. Mr. Hill had to convince his supervisor to abandon his beliefs about what was needed for the program and purchase equipment that was better-suited for the curriculum of the program. Mr. Gall faced similar obstacles with facilities and e quipment. The design of the classroom and laboratory and the equipment that had been or dered were not suitable for the program he had envisioned. Additionally, in Mr. GallÂ’s school district a publication produced to inform the public about potential careers in agriculture reinforced the common perception that agriculture is simply farming, which was the specific perception he had been working to overcome. Urban teachers need to clearly articulate the vision they hold for their programs to their school and county administrato rs. They need to collaborate with county supervisors and school administra tors to ensure that ordered equipment is appropriate for the curriculum of the program. Also, it is important for an urban agriculture teacher to publicize the activities and achievements of thei r students so administrators will be aware of the benefits of Agricultural Education. While three participants were attracted to their current school by the opportunity to teach a specific curriculum, one participant exhibited a great deal of flexibility in modifying the curriculum she envisioned t eaching. Ms. Brown was eager to teach about animal science and supplement her curriculu m with live animals on campus. Due to the restrictions of the school sp ecific to housing animals on campus, she was forced to deliver a curriculum that emphasized horticu lture and plant scien ce. Although she was initially disappointed at the inability to maintain animals on the school campus, she

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111 focused her efforts on delivering the horticu lture curriculum and wa s planning to teach about aquaculture in the future. Urban agricultu re teachers must be flexible, creative, and resourceful when working within the parame ters established by administrators. During teacher education, preservice teachers should be encouraged to develop lessons on a variety of agriculture curriculum topics. Al so, it may be beneficial to place a teaching intern in an agriculture pr ogram that requires them to move beyond their “curriculum comfort zone.” Such experience can help th e preservice teachers identify beneficial resources to help in the design of an ag riculture curriculum appropriate for their particular school. Participants stressed the importance of delivering a student-centered curriculum and discussed their efforts to deliver an ag riculture curriculum appropriate for urban students. In an attempt to involve his students in curricu lum development, Mr. Linder solicited input from his students on what they would like to learn. Ms. Fritz felt that the students in her veterinary assi sting classes would be better served by learning about small animal science because many of her students ha d domestic pets. In her classroom, a focus on large animal science would not meet the needs of the students because very few students would ever interact wi th large animals. Ms. Fritz even planned to begin a dog grooming business as a part of the veterina ry assisting curricul um. Mr. Flood also found it difficult to interest his st udents in learning about large an imal science because they did not have a practical appli cation for the material. Several of the participants provided their opinions on the content that should be included in an urban agricult ure curriculum. Mr. Gall identif ied specific topics that he thought would be the most appropriate fo r urban students including food science,

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112 biotechnology, interior scaping, and companion animals. Trede and Russell (1999) surveyed stakeholders regarding their pe rceptions on the subject matter topics of importance in an urban agriculture curricu lum. They concluded that leadership, environmental science, biotechnology, ag riculture business management, and food sciences were appropriate topics to be incl uded in an urban curriculum. However, they did not recognize the im portance of small animal science to the urban curriculum, which was mentioned by four of the part icipants in the current study. Participants expressed a need to deliver a consumer-based program that emphasized the scientific aspects of agriculture. Trede and Ru ssell (1999) made a similar recommendation to emphasize science-based topi cs in the urban agriculture curriculum. However, among the participants there was disagreement about the role of production agriculture in the urban agriculture curriculu m. One participant felt that students were more interested in production agriculture as compared to consumption agriculture. In contrast, another participant c ontended that a tradi tional, production or iented agriculture curriculum would not appeal to the students in his high school. It is difficult to conclude that one specific curriculum is appropriate for every urban school. Current and former urban agriculture students could assist in de signing agriculture curriculums they feel would be the most relevant and beneficial in preparing urban students for future educational and/or career path s. As well, an advisory boa rd composed of individuals representing local agri cultural businesses/industries could assist in the id entification of curriculum topics pertinent to the community. Advisory board members could also assist urban teachers in locating fiel d trip sites and securing stud ent SAE opportunities in the vicinity of the school.

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113 When reviewing multiple research studies relevant to beginning teachers, Veenman (1984) concluded that one of the most comm on perceived problems of beginning teachers was classroom management. Howe ver, none of the participants in this study voiced a concern regarding student behavior. Most of the participants were very complimentary of the students enrolled in their agriculture cl asses. Mr. Linder state d, “these are the best kids that I have ever worked with and I’ve worked with over 250,000 kids.” Another participant stated that she “ liked that most of her urban students entered her classroom with little prior knowledge of agriculture.” This limited amount of agricultural knowledge commonly contributed to the misperceptions that students had about agriculture. The students often associated agricu lture strictly with farming a nd lacked an understanding of the broad scope of agriculture and its’ imp act on their everyday lives. After overcoming their initial perceptions, many of the students were found to embrace the subject matter. One of the participants discusse d the desire of her students to learn the material that was being taught in her agriculture classroom. Other participants related their student’s positive reaction to the subject matter with the opportunity to work in the greenhouse and interact with the classroom animals. Ms. Br own was able to observe one of her former students applying the subject ma tter from her agriculture cl ass in her after-school job. Ms. Brown’s student worked at daycare and engaged the kids in landscaping. Preservice agriculture teachers may be reluctant to teach in an urban school because they do not think students will embrace the subject matter. The findings described above counter this sort of misperception and demonstrate that many urban students thoroughly enjoy their agriculture classes and are able to apply the agricultural concepts that they have learned in a variety of settings, such as their after-school jobs.

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114 There existed a wide range in the number of FFA members in each of the nine respective FFA chapters. The smallest chap ter had approximately 10 to 12 active FFA members, while the largest FFA chapter ha d approximately 438 paid members, with about 100 of those members involved in some type of FFA activity. Urban FFA members were involved a variety of activities on the lo cal and state levels and the participants shared multiple examples of student successe s achieved through FFA events. While most of the participants took a traditional approach to FFA meetings, Ms. Brown felt FFA meetings were an opportunity to give the ki ds something fun to do at school so they wouldn’t get into trouble in their neighborhoods Ms. Campbell stressed the value of FFA in developing the leadership skills of her students. She provided a specific example of the lasting benefits of participation in Career Development Events such as parliamentary procedure, I mean parliamentary procedure…if they can learn that at this age, it’s going to carry on through the rest of thei r lives. Even if they decide to stay in agriculture or not as a career, even if they go into co rporate, I mean the meetings should be properly run and any political settings, or company settings, that’s how they should run. I mean PTSA, SAC, that’s how it should be. In urban schools, there were multiple obsta cles to the FFA involvement of students. The schools offered numerous extracurricula r clubs and after-sc hool activities that competed with FFA for the students’ time a nd interest. Lass (1989) surveyed agriculture students in Louisiana to determ ine what factors influenced th eir decisions to join or not join FFA. For agriculture students who decided not to join FFA one of the items credited for this decision was “I am involved in too many other activities to join the FFA” (Lass, 1989, p. 347) Also, many of the high school studen ts held part-time jobs that limited their amount of free time. The high number of transient students served as a challenge to one participant. This rapid tur nover of students made it difficu lt to maintain continuity in

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115 the FFA chapter. Transportation obstacles made it difficult for many of the urban students to participate in FFA activities beyond the nor mal school hours, especially in the magnet programs. The work schedules of parents lim ited their availability to pick students up after school. Additionally, the la rge volume of traffic in urban areas hindered the parent’s ability to commute to the school in a reasonable amount of time. As a result of these challenges to student involvement in FFA, teachers need to look beyond the “traditional” after-school FFA mee ting. With the large FFA membership at Mr. Flood’s school, his FFA officers were as signed to his homeroom class. During this homeroom time, the officers would plan chapte r events and activities and then travel to the other homerooms to no tify other FFA members. Teachers may also hold FFA meetings during their lunch tim e or designate one day ever y two weeks or once a month as FFA day and hold smaller FFA meetings within each class period. Often preparation for Career Development Events takes place after school, which can limit student participation. Agriculture teachers could cr eate a website with contest preparation materials so that students could practice at home. For students who do not have access to the internet, the teacher could create kits containing the preparation materials that the students could take home and study. While these suggestions are not perfect substitutions for practicing at school under the supervision of a teacher, they do allow for the participation of students who may not have access to after-sc hool transportation. The level of student participation in SAE varied among the nine schools. In three of the middle schools, all students were required to complete an SAE in the form of a class assignment. These students were given severa l options to complete the SAE requirement. At one school they could complete an agrisc ience fair project or community service. At

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116 another school, they could select a project on agricultural careers, animal care, or home improvement. Participants who did not requ ire SAE as a class assignment did not have SAE participation from all of their students. Similarly, Leising and Zilbert (1985) found that more students complete SAE projects when it is a class requirement and contributes to the class grades of students. In a few of the schools, SAEs were only required for FFA members. Since a majority of the urban stude nts lived in apartment complexes or housing developments, most of the large animal SA Es were maintained on the school property Due to the increase of agriculture students li ving in urban and s uburban areas, Dyer and Osborne (1996) recommended that school systems should provide appropriate lab facilities for students to conduct SAE programs on the school campus. The participants cite d a lack of parental involvement as an obstacle to student SAEs. They felt that parents were necessary to assist the students in developing and completing SAE projects. Even in the absence of parental support, agriculture teachers need to assist students in identifying SAEs that they can complete. Agriculture teachers and students may believe that an appropriate SAE has to have “a halter attached.” However, many SAEs can be relevant to the everyday life of student s, as evidenced by the SAE projects completed by Ms. Campbell an d Mr. Flood’s students. Some preservice teachers may have limited ideas for poten tial SAE projects based on their prior experience in Agricultural Education. SAE t ours could be planned to expose preservice teachers to more of the “non-traditional” SAEs of current agriculture students. Dyer and Osborne (1996) also recognized the importa nce of teacher education programs in “providing beginning teachers with the background and knowledge to effectively

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117 administer SAE programs and adapting experien tial learning activities from SAEs to the classroom” (p.28). All of the participant’s schools had la rge student enrollments. Ms. Carter considered the size of her school to be a logistical disadvantag e to the agriculture program. With 3500 students, because the sc hool was so large, the campuses were divided into a campus specifically for 9thgraders and a campus specifically for 10th– 12thgraders. Since both of the agriculture teachers at Ms. Carter’s school were housed on the 10th–12thgrade campus, 9thgrade students were unable to enroll in Agricultural Education classes. For 8thgrade students who were eager to enroll in agriculture classes, the inability to take such a class in the 9thgrade jeopardized their continued interest in agriculture as a 10thgrader and their involvement in FFA. An additional drawback to the division of the campuses was that it was impossi ble for Ms. Carter’s veterinary assisting students to complete the five courses necessary to be considered program completers and earn an anatomy and physiology credit. The size of Ms. Brown’s middle school resu lted in an average of 30 students in each of her classes. Her porta ble classroom offered a limited amount of space, so she was unable to use many pieces of the equipment that was purchased for her classroom. In an attempt to utilize more of the classroo m equipment and provide hands-on learning activities for students, Ms. Brow n described her plans to include learning stations for her 6thgrade students. Each learni ng station would be specific to an agricultural topic and would contain relevant background information, activities, and assignments that a group of students could complete in 1–2 days. Ms. Brown’s goal for using stations would place her in more of a facilitative role rather than providing instruction to the whole class, but

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118 would encourage the increased use of classr oom equipment. For example, if teaching about landscape design, it would be impossibl e for Ms. Brown to have her entire class use computer software to design a landscap e. However, through the use of learning stations, a group of 4-5 students had the opportu nity to create a landscape plan using the computer. The use of learning stations was an idea that Ms. Brown received from her cooperating teacher and may be very helpful to new teachers. To supplement the learning stations that have already been develope d, preservice teachers could design additional stations with information, ac tivities, and assignments that would be appropriate for various curriculum topics. Agriculture TeachersÂ’ Outlook on Thei r Teaching Tenure in Urban Schools When asked to speculate on their future teaching career in thei r current school, the participants identified several influences th at could potentially influence their career decisions. Two of the participants really en joyed the particular curriculum they were teaching and wanted to continue teaching a similar curriculum in the future. Four participants identified their family as an important influence on their teaching location. For Ms. Brown, she was willing to relocate to a city, which had the best job opportunities for her husband. Mr. Gall felt that if he and hi s wife started a family while living in their current location, it would be difficult to m ove. While Mr. Linder enjoyed living in a metropolitan area, he wanted to eventually re turn to a rural area to raise a family. As new schools are opened to provide reli ef for overcrowded sc hools, the draw of students from their current schools decreases the student enrollment, which results in the elimination of teaching positions. Two of the participants felt their jobs might be threatened based on a change in student enrollment in their cu rrent school. Mr. Flood stated that administrative support was a key fact or in his decision to continue teaching at

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119 his current school. Ms. Fritz planned on stayi ng in an urban school because she felt that Agricultural Education was desp erately needed in urban areas. Of the nine participants, only one expressed his intention to leave his current school for a teaching position in another state. Recommendations for Research and Practice Recommendations for Future Research While this study provided worthwhile info rmation about the career influences and expectations of nine agricultu re teachers who were teaching in urban schools, all of the participants made the choice to accept employ ment in an urban district. It is also important to explore the career influences of teachers who w ould not seek employment in an urban school or who declined an offer for a teaching position in an urban area. The perceptions held by pa rticipants regarding urba n schools did not discourage them from teaching in urban areas, however, research is needed on the perceptions of individuals who would not consider teaching in an urban school. Such research could help determine if these perceptions are trul y a factor in the indi vidualÂ’s avoidance of urban schools. Additionally, ac tivities/experiences could be identified for inclusion in teacher education programs to help address these perceptions of urban environments. Also, the participants were asked to recall the perceptions that they held in the past. For the participants this involved reflecting on how they felt anywhere from one year to five years ago and could have been altered by th eir actual experience in urban schools. A more accurate representation of the perceptions that individuals have about urban schools may be ascertained from teachers prior to th e start of their teac hing careers through the use of interviews and focus groups.

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120 Only four of the participants completed their student teaching experience in an urban school. While two of the participants ment ioned the role of this experience in their career choice, it was not the sole influence on their decision to teach in an urban school. Future research should concentrate more sp ecifically on the contribution of the student teaching experience on a teacherÂ’s decision to teach in an urban school. Although prior research discussed the influence of urban fi eld experiences, such as field trips, the individuals who had participated in field trips as preservi ce teachers did not elaborate on how such experiences shaped their beliefs a bout urban schools. It may have been difficult for the participants to recall their memories fr om field trips in which they participated as many as five years previously. The beliefs of preservice teachers should be examined prior to field trips to urban schools and again upon their return from such field trips. The factors the participants credited as influential in their anticipated career continuation in an urban school were merely speculative. Using the same participants, a longitudinal study would provide additional data about the factors that influenced their decisions to either stay or depart from their current teaching site. Some findings of the study appeared to be specific to agriculture programs in inner city schools compared to agriculture programs in urban schools represented by this study. Also, differences were noted in agriculture cl asses that were offered as electives to the general student population and magnet agricult ure programs that had established criteria for student selection. Further research should be conducted to gain a thorough understanding of the career experiences of t eachers in these different urban contexts. There was a striking difference in the le vels of FFA involvement among the nine schools. Several of the chapters experienced high levels of student involvement while

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121 other chapters struggled with student membership. While a few of the participants hypothesized about possible obstacles to stude nt involvement, urban agriculture students should be interviewed to examine what encour ages and hinders their participation in the FFA. All of the participants in the study were graduates of teacher education programs at land grant institutions. Yet, with an ongoi ng shortage of qualif ied teachers to fill available teaching positions in Agricultural Education (Camp, Broyles, & Skelton, 2002), administrators often hire uncertified teacher s to fill teaching vacancies (Roberts & Dyer, 2004). Similarly, the Urban Teacher Collabora tive (2000) found that teaching vacancies in urban schools are often filled with teacher s who are not fully certified. Consequently, it is important to examine alternatively certified teachersÂ’ decisions to teach Agricultural Education in urban schools, the career experi ences of alternativel y certified teachers while teaching in urban agri culture programs, and alternatively certified agriculture teachersÂ’ outlook their career l ongevity in urban schools. Recommendations for Future Practice Several of the participants who were not raised in urban areas were willing to consider teaching positions in urban schools because of a desire to live in urban areas or relocate to areas they felt would offer a be tter quality of life. If preservice teachers express an interest in moving to an urban lo cation or a willingness to move to a new area, teacher educators should assist them in id entifying potential t eaching jobs in urban schools. With the influence that former agricultu re teachers and college advisors had on several of the participantsÂ’ d ecisions to teach agriculture, it is important for teacher educators to establish relationships and maintain contact with these individuals.

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122 Agriculture teachers and college advisors can identify students who have expressed interest in becoming an agriculture teach er, so that teacher educators can focus recruitment efforts on interested students. Prospective Agricultural Education teachers who have not had prior experience as a student in Agricultural Education may be reluctant to consider a teaching career. Encouraging these students to shadow an ag riculture teacher and assisting them in arranging school visits could he lp them determine whether te aching is a suitable career. In order for preservice teachers to be knowledgeable of job openings in urban districts, the openings must be well publici zed using a variety of methods. In addition to word-of-mouth publicity by teacher educator s, job posting boards and websites for professional organizations and the National FFA Organization could be used to advertise urban openings. The use of websites may be es pecially helpful in notifying out-of-state preservice teachers who are interested in an urban teaching position of available jobs. Prospective teachers may be drawn to a particular school by the opportunity to teach a specific curriculum. Identifying and advertising the curriculums of urban agriculture programs could assi st individuals in selecting a position that provides them with the opportunity to teach a course relevant to their area of inte rest or expertise. One of the influences on Mr. FloodÂ’s deci sion to return to his urban hometown was the existence of a social network composed of family and friends. While Ms. Brown accepted a teaching position in a new location, she predicted th at she would always teach in an urban location as a result of her upbri nging in urban areas. If other individuals who are raised in metropolitan areas exhibit the same desire to re turn to their hometown or a similar urban location, urban students who are in terested in the possibility of teaching

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123 Agriculture Education need to be actively recruited to enroll in teacher education programs. Several of the participants discussed the rapid rate of admini strative turnover in their respective schools. In order to gain the support of new administrators, the participants used different strategies to educate their principals about Agricultural Education. Preservice teachers s hould collaborate w ith their peers and current teachers to design a public relations program that they ca n implement at their student teaching site and at the school where they accept a teaching position.

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APPENDIX A CODING

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125 Figure A-1. Influences on teachersÂ’ initial decisions to teach Agricultural Education. Ag in high school Recruited into ag by friend Loved ag class Loved being around the animals Exploratory class in 8th grade Stuck in ag class Liked teacher Interesting class Good place for me In ag for four years Home base Got involved in ag as junior Landed in class by accident Everything was so interesting Attended ag high school Many opportunities through ag class Liked animals Participation in CDEs Amazing FFA program Involved in FFA Father was in FFA Popularity of FFA in hometown Dominates the culture You just join FFA Chapter did 3 contests Saw what FFA did for me Did a lot with officers We were all so close Chapter president FFA kind of formed who I am today Active FFA chapter Showed livestock Almost on every judging contest State FFA officer Horticulture and Floriculture contests Involvement in Agricultural Education Involvement in FFA Teacher background

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126 Figure A-1. Continued. Not in high school ag Cut ag program Phasing ag out Not an option Not in FFA No one ever talked to me about ag/FFA Didn’t want to have any involvement with cows/pigs Lack of involvement in Ag Ed/FFA Teacher background Enjoy kids Like other people’s kids Always loved kids Children are my passion See students for four years Wanted to teach animal science Work with animals Opportunity to work with kids and animals Influence of ag teacher to consider teaching Biggest influence was ag teacher Ag teacher made huge difference in my life Inspiration of middle school ag teacher Ag teacher told me “you should be ag teacher” Impact of teacher Wanted to change major Advisor recommended programs to visit Started as animal science major Worked at dairy research unit Realized I didn’t want to be on a dairy Advisor offered to get me through degree in year and a half Contact with faculty in Ag Ed department Influence of agri culture teacher Influence of college advisor Decision to pursue teacher certification in Agricultural Education

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127 Figure A-2. Influences on teachers’ in itial decisions to teach Agricultur al Education in an urban area. Desire to teach in city Didn’t want to teach in rural school Offered position in rural h.s., but did not accept Don’t want to go to rural school Best to teach in city Wanted to be in county Like living in city Great place to live Don’t want to be in rural area Don’t want to be in big farming area Wanted to come to city Get away from hometown Tired of snow Neat place Liked ocean Orlando is a big city, but not really big city Miami would scare me Big city Increase in Spanish population, don’t speak language Desired teaching location Desired living location Desired location Student taught at rural high school No exposure to urban schools Student taught in rural school Visited other inner-city high schools Visited urban middle schools Visited urban schools Volunteered at urban high schools Student taught in an urban school Influence of student teaching Interned at current school Student taught in urban county Interned in urban middle school No prior experience “Guest” experience Internship experience Prior experience in urban schools

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128 Figure A-2. Continued. Open position Threat of program closing Job was open forever Posted for 2 or 3 years Available position Where opening was Had to have job What’s o p en, y ou want to take i t Recruitment from ag supervisor Supervisor was one of main reasons I came She contacted me Helpful Sold the program No clue what to expect Someone selling program – respond to sales pitch Contact with supervisor Liked supervisor Met with other teacher Made it very attractive to me Offered me class choices Coach whichever FFA teams Lots of choices and options Wanted to teach plant biotechnology Have to go to urban setting Traditional curriculum in rural schools Science-based Not traditional program Work with animals Vet science curriculum Need for agriculture teacher Influence of supervisor Influence of other teacher Curriculum offerings Decision to teach in a particular school

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129Figure A-2. Continued. Figure A-2. Continued. Support from ag teachers Knew teachers in county from undergrad Teacher base Mentors were at school Knew people at school A lot of support Familiar with program WouldnÂ’t start from scratch Best place to be Family here Compelled to come back Miami was best for me Coming back home was best Difficult to make living in other city Not having support in other city From neighborhood Start own program Personally responsible for success/failure Not compared to previous teacher New program opening More opportunities at big schools Strong bonds w ith one teacher Professional network Social network Personal control Decision to teach in a particular school

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130 Figure A-2. Continued. Never pushed to teach Very supportive Distance from home Mom was a little bit sad Wanted son to be happy Distance from home Family relieved at decision to stay in U.S. Quite surprised at career choice Family shocked at being an ag teacher Surprise from family Family unaware of ag in county Tried to influence Parents wanted me at a rural school Thought I would be happiest there (rural school) Thou g ht I lost m y mind when decided to teach Accepted in masterÂ’s program at UF Sat in on interview and agreed to apply to FIU Had to get masterÂ’s at FIU instead of UF Girlfriend willing to move Girlfriend up and moved Crazy Loved me Wanted adventure Lived simple life Experiences of family Support from family Opinions of family Support of spouse Level of influence from family My mom is a teacher Got that from my mom MomÂ’s experience in urban schools Horror stories Brother works in Miami

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131 Figure A-2. Continued. Little student interest Willing to participate in land judging As much FFA interest as there was Difficulty with race (85% of school is black) DidnÂ’t expect ethnic diversity Thought there would be more white students Only white person in room Perceptions of school environment Perceived student interest in FFA Expectations of student demographics TeachersÂ’ perceptions of urban schools Students with ag background Never raised on farm Maybe rural kids know more Never knew how to tag a cow Kids telling me what I need to know Students would have known more than me Doing that since they were young Going to know more than I do Happens here, but on different level No ag background Not enough education/knowledge Lack of technical ag knowledge High schoolers w ould teach me Unable to teach high school students City kids donÂ’t know more than teacher DidnÂ’t grow up on farm Rural kids would know more Ignorance of urban students about agriculture Rural students already know information Not in FFA in high school Maybe I donÂ’t have that background Thought rural schools would be more interested in ag Perceptions of rural students Perceptions of Ag Ed in rural areas Thought it would be more challenging environment Could be more challenging More difficult than working with students from similar background

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132 Figure A-2. Continued. Perceptions of rural schools Perceptions of Ag Ed in rural areas Some rural programs rely too much on FFA “I’m an FFA teacher” – no such thing I’m an ag teacher, not an FFA teacher Some rural programs are so FFA Teaching through FFA Don’t want to be an FFA teacher Rural parents expect FFA teacher Focus on teams Need to teach first

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133 Figure A-3. Agriculture teachers’ curre nt experiences in urban schools. Small school – under microscope Large school – autonomy, less parental pressure Parents expect Ag Ed to be your life No life in ag community Urban area – can separate from teaching Leave students at end of day Go home and have another life I make a change I make a difference in someone’s life Treat like a mom Little access to role models in family Teaching and living in an urban area Get a lot of good stuff from him Really close with (teacher name) Share ideas Used to work together Work together for sub-districts Introduce ourselves to new teachers Bring in lesson plans and ideas Using same books Curriculum alignment Swap and exchange lesson plans Pool resources and materials A lot of assistance Somebody will help me Urban teachers can separate personal life from professional life Personal rewards Collaboration with other agriculture teachers Benefits to teacher

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134 Figure A-3. Continued. 84% Hispanic 11% White 2% Black 1% Asian 2% other 98% minority High Hispanic population ~50% Hispanic 85% of school is Black 75% Black 10% White 10% Hispanic Some of everybody’s here Understandin g student culture Like learning about different cultures Love hearing about different places Enjoy diversity of urban students Like the diversity & Hispanic culture Different from my hometown Kids share about background Hear about ag in Puerto Rico Contribution of students – culture and experiences Cultural diversity of students Teacher appreciation of cultural diversity Contribution of individual student culture to classroom Contribution of cultural diversity to classroom environment

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135 Figure A-3. Continued. Lack of parental involvement Tried to have FFA parent meetings Hard to get parent support Priorities of parents Don’t have families at home Parents working a lot Parents here all the time Pro education It’s for their child Sponsorship Low level of parental support High level of parental support Level of parental support Put school information into Opening Doors powerpoint Educating principal about FFA/ag We did this song and dance Charted FCAT performance of students Landscaped school Integration of other curriculum subjects Main focus is FCAT “I’m a data man, show me data” FCAT performance of students New principal – supports ag program Lack of support (former principal) Support of principal Previous experience with ag program Farming background Doesn’t treat like dumping ground Well supported by administration Supportive administration Principal has never been in classroom Didn’t want ag program Help from administration is really, really good Principal had no idea what this was All the trips FFA takes, that wasn’t happening at all Teacher’s effort to obtain principal support Level of principal support Administrative support for Agricultural Education

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136 Figure A-3. Continued. Supportive assistant principal Visited schools Attended FFA events Has a clue Very well supported by APs Ag teacher moved to AP position AP had a positive image of FFA/agriscience On 4th principal In 5 years, will have completely rolled over administration 7 administrators in front office, one was here on day one Second principal in 4 years Change of principal Principal turnover 3rd principal in 5 years PrincipalÂ’s expectations for program (former ag teacher) More outside Getting dirty Learn about hard work Production ag side Unrealistic expectations No animals Ignorance about what biotech was supposed to be Challenges with lead teacher Different vision of program Traditional view of agriculture Lack of understanding about ag in community Ignorant about subject Level of support from assistant principals Administra t ive transition Princi p alÂ’s vision for p ro g ram Lead teacherÂ’s vision for program Administrative support for Agricultural Education Administrative obstacles to teacher vision

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137 Figure A-3. Continued. This is the way itÂ’s always been done Need a drill press Wanted welder Will not be splicing genes with a welder Equipment that was ordered Arrangement of facility Not set to be biotech lab Limited to plant tissue culture Struggle for equipment, supplies, & materials Needed basic lab equipment Lack of biotechnology equipment Proposed career academies Jobs available Farming No mention of science, biotech, geomatics County supervisorÂ’s vision for program Absence of appropriate equipment and supplies Administrative obstacles to teacher vision Misperceptions at county level Thought she would be teaching animal science Not allowed to have animals CanÂ’t have barn Gung ho about plants Horticulture Aquaculture Different route Teacher flexibility within school restrictions Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools

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138 Figure A-3. Continued. Start a dog grooming business Future of ag at high school and area Getting kids working with small animals No future in cows Appealing to students with small animals 90% of my kids have never been within 5 feet of cow Never will interact with cows 80-85% have cat or dog at home Make ag relatable to these kids Ag production is not relatable to urban kids I ask them what do you want to learn about You can tailor it to whatever they want Combine what they want &what I think Hard to convey message without application Production of large animals Nothing to apply to Community based Important to work in traditional agriculture Traditional agriculture canÂ’t be main focus Relevant, consumer based programs Food science, biotechnology Focus on interiorscaping, small-scale production Ornamental horticulture Companion animals Fad is consumption ag Not enough interest in consumption ag Kids in ghetto, playing in dirt DonÂ’t change everything to consumption ag Good old boy mentality Ag is original science Stop promoting stereotype Train to be scientists No training needed for farming Not interested in agriculture Traditional ag offered as an elective Take art DonÂ’t want to get sweaty and dirty Student-centered curriculum Curriculum content Agricultural Education curriculum in urban schools

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139 Figure A-3. Continued. Students are fine No student problems Best kids I ever worked with (worked with over 250,000 kids) Love students Great kids Awesome students Well-behaved Look forward to students Likes the students Likes that urban students do not have agriculture background Likes studentsÂ’ lack of agriculture knowledge Farming Low level of education Low end job Negative perception of ag DonÂ’t want to learn about farming Has nothing to do with me No idea about agriculture Minimal knowledge of ag No understanding of everyday impact Get milk from store No concept of agriculture Think about Old MacDonaldÂ’s farm Just another science class Never even heard of it Is it true that are we are going to be milking goats Thought we were going to be farming Had no idea what it was 190 kids dumped in class DonÂ’t have a clue what ag is Just cows and tractors Students enrolled in Ag Ed classes StudentsÂ’ perceptions of agriculture Value of Agricultural Education to urban students

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140 Figure A-3. Continued. Kids are hungry for what we are trying to teach them Student raised on a dairy farm is not going to appreciate strawberries Urban kids are excited as information that rural kids would consider minimal After a couple of weeks, 75% of kids were on board Enrollment for next year = 130 students 91 signed up for high school ag They go crazy because of animals, greenhouse They love it Exploratory class embraced subject matter It gives the students the chance to experience something very different Kids want to learn Hungry to learn material Want to learn about small animals Want to learn dog breeds Student works at daycare Always landscaping daycare Kids are playing in dirt and growing plants SheÂ’s doing something I taught her Student reaction to subject matter Student application of subject matter Value of Agricultural Education to urban students Do everything possible Opening/closing Extemp Prepared Creed Fair booth Veggie ID Food science 1st in OCC Spanish extemp speaker Public speaking Quiz bowl Land judging OH demos Focused efforts Horse judging FFA activities FFA in urban schools

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141 Figure A-3. Continued 10 –12 members 45 members 10 – 12 members 55/42 members between 50 –60 members top kids are in FFA High achievers gravitate towards me 438 members 100 students involved Willing to participate in FFA State winner in extemp No ag background Reaction to award Hard work paid off Excited about recognition Extemp speaker – Spanish speaking 1st place in OCC Success in land judging Student achievement Student involvement in FFA Alternative view of importance of FFA FFA in urban schools Not normal FFA activities Keep students off street Soccer Board games Chill and hang out Order pizza Something to do

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142 Figure A-3. Continued. Students are more distracted Many different things to do on weekends/after school Other opportunities at school competing for time Involved in established clubs Thought students would gravitate to FFA Other responsibilities – lives and jobs Everything is after school Million other activities around the school Transient students Half of chapter moved High student turnover Always getting new students Hard to keep them Influence of neighborhood Movement of renters Didn’t have a ride to get anywhere Can’t stay after school Nobody to pick them up Fewer students can participate after school Kids live far away Mom and dad have to pick them up After school activities are very limited Student perception of FFA Stereotypical redneck farmers Educate about FFA Difference in membership nu mbers between two schools Difficult to educate students about FFA This is the farming club Defeating perception Do I have to show animals to be in FFA? Other avenues and options FFA has to offer Stereotype crap Freshman are pressured about club involvement Student opportunities and involvement Turnover of student population Transportation obstacles Promoting involvement in FFA Obstacles to FFA involvement

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143 Figure A-3. Continued. Practical relevant SAEs for urban students Zero percent have land Subdivision or apartment kids More large animal SAEs than sm all animals (housed at school) Agriscience projects or community service Animal care or home improvement No projects outside of cla ss except agriscience projects Small projects for fair (chicken, rabbits, plants) Live in apartments, condos, or houses on small lots Not much space for home project Apartment/residential areas Pig projects are not relevant Practical SAEs SAEs stay at school More work for teacher Caring for turtles More research than care Encounter resistance on parentÂ’s part Parents do not realize value Huge barrier is lack of parental support Difference in parents at urban/rural schools At home, parents would help DonÂ’t have parental back-up to do things CanÂ’t get too creative with SAEs No one is going to help You can only help so much as advisor SAE opportunities for students Lack of parental involvement in SAE SAE in urban schools

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144 Figure A-3. Continued. Division of campuses Hurt enrollment Large campus 2 campuses 3500 students No freshman on main campus CanÂ’t start ag until sophomore year Hurts program 2600 students 3rd year for school Can see 3 other high schools with 5000 students My school is also expected to be 5000 students Not enough seats in classroom Limited space CanÂ’t use equipment 2600 or 2700 students 1200 in entire school 440 in magnet program High teacher turnover Difficult school environment Difficult classroom environment Number of referrals and suspensions Low performance on FCAT Looks like a jail Horrible Scary at night School looks trashier and trashier Looks terrible Size of school Pride in school School characteristics

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145 Figure A-4. Agriculture teach ersÂ’ outlook on their teaching tenure in an urban school. Stay as long as they let me Always teaching in urban school WouldnÂ’t teach forever in urban school Will not always teach at current school Curriculum of program (vet science, animal science) Would love to teach vet assisting Biotech type program Family issues Difficult to move family DonÂ’t want to raise family in city Job opportunities for husband Child is one Get cut based on numbers New school Possibility of losing a unit Desired characteristics of new school Continuation of urban teaching career Departure from urban teaching career Curriculum offerings Influence of family Concern for job security at particular school Influences on decision to continue teaching at current school School with more well-balanced student population Well-balanced faculty More stable principal, administration Less turnover More respectability

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146 Figure A-4. Continued. Offered position in urban schools Where Ag Ed is needed Needed in urban areas Level of administrative support Opportunity to educate urban students about agriculture Influences on decision to continue teaching at current school Need administrative support Challenging to interest students Unsupportive administration is difficult

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APPENDIX B GROUNDED THEORY

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148 Figure B-1. Grounded theory of the career expe riences of novice urban agriculture teachers Career Experiences o f Novice Urban Agriculture Teachers Decision to Teach Agricultural Education Decision to Teach Ag Ed in an Urban School Current Experiences Influences on Teachers' Decisions to Continue Teaching in an Urban School A. Personal influences Ag Ed/FFA involvement Work with desired audience B. Human Influences Former agriculture teacher College advisor C. Personal Influences Desired location Personal control Curriculum N etworking Prior experiences D. Human Influences County agriculture supervisor Family N eed for teacher Other teacher(s) E. Perceptions Urban Rural Encouraging Experiences Discouraging Experiences G. Administrative support H. Personal Value Teacher b enefits Culture I. Programmatic Expectations Curriculum SAE FFA J. Value to Students Culture Value of Ag Ed FFA F. Family Support K. Family Support L. School Characteristics Size Level of pride M. Programmatic Expectations FFA Curriculum SAE N. Administrative support Administrative transition Vision for program O. School Characteristics Students Faculty Administration P. Administrative support Q. Personal Benefit Curriculum offerings Job security R. Human Influence Family

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149 APPENDIX C EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE

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150 APPENDIX D INFORMED CONSENT

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151 APPENDIX E IRB APPROVAL

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152 APPENDIX F INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE Today, I would like to provide you with the opportunity to describe your perceptions about teaching in an urban school. 1. Why did you decide to t each? Middle school/high school? 2. Why did you decide to teach ag? 3. What are your beliefs about teaching in an urban school? Did you have any beliefs prior to obt aining a job in an urban school? Students expectations, diversity, interest in subject matter, behavior management Curriculum teaching style, subject matter Context of school Role of SAE/FFA What assisted in the formation of these beliefs? People (parents, cooperating teacher, university personnel), media, etc. Since you have started teaching in an urban school, how have your beliefs changed? Efficacy 4. Prior to teaching, what kind of experiences did you have in an urban school/area? Primary/Secondary school experience University experience Preservice teacher preparation Early field experience Student teaching experience Discussions during pres ervice preparation Initial decision to teach in urban school Influential factors Reaction of family/friends

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153 5. What kind of experiences have you had wh ile teaching in an urban school? Students Other faculty Administration Families/Parents Acceptance of agriculture Curriculum (class activities) FFA/SAE Extracurricular activities of students 6. What are your expectations of your futu re teaching career in an urban school? Decision to continue teaching in an urban school (influ ential factors) Students Curriculum Administration Resources Collaboration with other teachers

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163 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Wendy Jacklyn Warner was born August 19, 1976 in Washington Court House, Ohio. She was raised on a small hog and grain crops farm in rural Fayette County, Ohio. When she was eight years old, Wendy joined the Wayne Progressi ve Farmers 4-H Club and began exhibiting Chester Whites at the county and state fair. While attending Miami Trace High School, Wendy continued her involvement in 4-H and also became an active member of the Miami Trace FFA Chapter. In June 1998, Wendy earned her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education from the Ohio State University. As part of her degree program, she completed her student teaching at Johnstown High School in Johnsto wn, Ohio under the supervision of Mr. Tim Reichert. Upon graduation, Wendy relocated to Or lando, Florida to teach exploratory agriscience courses to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Corner Lake Middle School. After two years of teaching at the middle school level, Wendy accepted a position at Robert Hungerford Preparatory High School in Ea tonville, Florida. While teaching at Hungerford Prep, she served as the academy leader for the Agricultural Biotechnology Academy, president of the Orange County Agriculture Teachers Association, and a mentor for beginning teachers. In 2002, Wendy was recognized as the Florida FFA Agriscience Teacher of the Year. In 2003, Wendy accepted a graduate teaching and research assistantship in the Department of Agricultural Education and Co mmunication at the University of Florida

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164 and began work on a Ph.D. in Agricultural Education. During her time in graduate school, Wendy taught a technical writing co urse, assisted with various teacher preparation courses, and superv ised student teachers. She al so conducted research studies on urban agriculture programs, laboratory in struction, and experi ential learning. While completing her degree, Wendy served as the vi ce-president and secr etary of Alpha Tau Alpha and was a member of Gamma Sigma De lta and the Agricultural Education and Communication Graduate Student Association. In September 2006, Wendy will assume an assistant professor position in the Department of Agricultural Education a nd Communication at Ca lifornia Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.