Smalley, S. W., Smith, A. R. (2017). Professional development needs of mid-career agriculture teachers. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 282-290. https://dot.org/10.5032/jae.2017.04282
Nationwide, agricultural education faces a shortage of teachers (National Teach Ag Campaign, 2014; Foster, Lawver, & Smith, 2016). To remedy this, both recruitment and retention efforts are necessary. While extensive research in agricultural education has focused on needs of beginning teachers, less research has focused on needs of agriculture teachers at later career stages. As such, the purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore challenges, activities, and professional development needs of mid-career agriculture teachers, particularly those within the “Experimentation/Activism” and “Reassessment/Self-Doubt” stages identified by Huberman (1989). The study narrowly focused on a census of 35 teachers from across the country who applied for a professional development program designed for mid-career agriculture teachers. Mid-career teachers identified lack of time, course planning, and programmatic expectations as challenges or obstacles. The teachers reported a desire to fulfill professional development needs by networking, reenergizing, and improving stress management. Specifically, teachers reported participating in professional organizations, joining teacher listservs, and networking through the National Association of Agricultural Educators’ Communities of Practice for engagement and support. Findings suggest continued professional development offerings and additional research related to mid-career agriculture teacher well-being are warranted.