A new way to coach CDEs

Raise your hand if this sounds like you…

One teacher program.

Offer 20+ CDEs and LDEs.

Limited community involvement.

Independently coach the majority of teams.

This was me.

If students were interested in a CDE or LDE, I did not want to limit involvement but did not have an alumni or booster organization to assist with these teams.

So I organized resources, created practice materials and learned the contests right there with my students.

However, as you can imagine - or have experienced - this takes a lot of time, not only to compile resources, but also to physically meet for practices.

I knew there had to be a better way so I began reorganizing how I approached CDEs and LDEs, and placed the responsibility back on the students. Here are a couple of ways I did this:

  1. SET GOALS: As I explained in the Realistically Setting the Bar for CDEs blog post, I had students set goals during the first practice. This told me how hard they were willing to push so I could realign my expectations and the amount of time I was willing to spend to reach their goals.

  2. USE A LMS: Whether your school uses Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas or another Learning Management System, create “classes” for each of your CDE or LDE teams. This allowed me to organize all of my resources in one place and allowed me to release these materials to students in a timely fashion.

  3. ASSIGN HOMEWORK: I never assigned homework for an agriculture class, but I would assign homework for CDEs and LDEs. There is not enough time during weekly or bi-weekly practices to review all of the materials to be successful. Therefore, I assigned students homework in their LMS for these contests, and although I did not give them a grade, students were willing to do the homework because they wanted to be successful. 

  4. ASSIGN CAPTAINS: Each CDE team would have a captain who had competed in the contest previously. This student was responsible for communicating practices with the rest of the team and delegating responsibilities to team members, such as preparing study materials.

  5. DELEGATE RESPONSIBILITIES: Between the team captain and other team members, I would delegate study materials for students to prepare. Whether it was finding example Kahoot quizzes online, reading chapters from study materials and summarizing their findings, or compiling ID photos, students were the ones creating these study materials, not me as the educator.

This new way of coaching CDEs and LDEs allowed me to maximize my impact as a FFA advisor and produced three national teams and countless other state qualifying teams during the last half of my decade in the classroom. But more importantly, it allowed me to gain countless hours and set boundaries safeguarding my work-life balance.