The Right End of the Halter

Blog Author: Patina Crowder, CTE Coordinator, Iraan-Sheffield ISD

As an ag. teacher by trade and an administrator by call, I often default to my livestock roots to make sense of the world.  I relate human kid training to kid goat training.   In fact, some of the best advice I ever received as a young ag. teacher a long time ago was, “Never forget to pay attention to the right end of the halter.”  In other words, remain focused on the real reason why we are all working so incredibly hard.  It’s all about the young people who ultimately need to be prepared for the world they are about to enter.  For them to be successful, we have to be skilled trainers.

To improve my skills, I’ve spent time studying livestock and people.  Some of my heroes are Monte Roberts aka the Horse Whisperer and Dr. Temple Grandin.  To me, and others I’d guess, there are many similarities between livestock handling and human education.  What I’ve learned from their work is that we all, (students, parents, and educators) could use a little more understanding, a lot more asking, and a good dose of patience on the part of our handlers.  Amazing feats can be achieved when a trusting relationship exists between the trainer and the trainee.  Good livestock handlers and educators know and understand their herd, provide what is needed to help them be their best, and give them the confidence to enter an ever-changing arena.  In fact, it’s easy to determine the skill of the handler by observing the behavior of the herd.  The same can be said about people.

An example of skilled handling –

I recall visiting the Roscoe district in the spring of 2017 as a result of an invitation to participate in external Harvard Rounds. I really had no idea what to expect and was mostly interested in seeing the veterinary facilities.  What I witnessed was a level of excellence in education that I had never envisioned.  When I began to walk through the classrooms, I could tell immediately that amazing things were taking place in the schools because of the conversations I had with students.  They were well trained, confident, and very outspoken about what they were doing. When I finally got to visit the research facility, the “tour guide” could have easily been mistaken for a third-year veterinary student instead of a high school junior.  As a result of that experience, I was incredibly motivated to learn whatever I needed to learn, work as hard as I needed to work, and convince whomever I needed to convince that we had to bring the P-20 model to our district.  Our students deserved the opportunity to perform at the level of excellence that I had observed.

Now, as the newest member of the CEN team, Iraan-Sheffield ISD is on the path to leading champions into the arena with confidence and excellence like never before.  Our committed team of like-minded folks are glad to be onboard and look forward to the amazing things to come for the right end of the halter.

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