Realistically setting the bar for CDEs

I feel like I’m working harder than my students in this CDE!

We have all thought this at some point in our career.

We are trying to convince this quick witted student that they would be perfect for Extemporaneous Public Speaking LDE.

We spend our free time combing through the Food Science & Technology rules so students can try this CDE for the first time.

We review the 23 page Agricultural Communication CDE media plan.

We spend countless hours preparing study materials for the Veterinary Science CDE.

We get disappointed when students do not put in as much time as they need to be competitive. 

We all know this feeling too well…so how do we set realistic expectations for ourselves as FFA advisors?

We let students set goals and expectations for the team at the first meeting.

When I started having students set goals and posting them in the classroom this did two things:

  1. It told me how hard the students were willing to push themselves in the CDE or LDE which allowed me to modify my expectations and the amount of time I was willing to dedicate to the contest.

  2. And it gave students a bar to shoot for. Students wanted to meet this goal and would put in even more time to achieve it because it was a goal that was set by themselves and their peers.

And believe it or not, it worked! Since having students set goals for themselves, I had three teams compete at a national level in the Agricultural Communication CDE and the Food Science & Technology CDE and had more students compete at the state level in Ohio. 

So I challenge you to put the ball in your students’ court!

As you begin preparing for the next round of CDEs and LDEs, ask you students…What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? How hard are you willing to push yourself? And then reevaluate your expectations so you are not disappointed with the results and can celebrate your students for what THEY establish as SUCCESS!