Classroom Management Reflections

I am shocked when I walk in a classroom and I have to use punitive measures to get students to participate and do what they are supposed to do. The teacher to student relationship is a basic systemic condition that can be traced back as far as human lives have existed. As I reflect, I realize the problem isn’t the relationship; it is that throughout my professional life, I’m not confident in expressing and identifying what I expect out of others. I feel like I’m always on the back end of a situation, using punishment as a means of control. I know I can’t keep going on this way and I have to discover a new way to move forward. So, I have to ask myself, what is it I expect out of those around me, students and colleagues.


I expect those around me to be:

  1. Affable
  2. Congenial
  3. Focused
  4. Confidence
  5. Genuine
  6. Humble
  7. Honest

I know this is a lofty goal and a large order. How am I supposed to get people to act in this way? How do I keep from being too manipulative? What do I do about the people around me who don’t exhibit these qualities? The first thing I need to do is outline exactly what I think each of these seven characteristics looks like.

  1. Affable- By affable, I mean that they are approachable and that they listen. I expect students to give eye contact and I will return the favor. I also expect my colleagues to embody what it means to be there as support. I will never call on someone at work to do something that they don’t want to do but I expect them to be approachable and listen to a problem. If they feel moved, act with me, not for me.
  2. Congenial- Confrontation has its place but too often we get entrenched in our thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and we let arguments become the focus and rather than a medium for progress. In the course of a lesson or a meeting, the discourse has its place but confrontation just wastes time. I believe that the place for confrontation is not in public. It is to be handled in private and at moments when all parties can enter with a clear and free mind. Additionally, I expect people to take the needs of others into consideration. Ultimately, we have to take care of ourselves but, we can’t ignore those sitting right next to us.
  3. Focused-I struggle with this one. I want students to do the work I place in front of them and I expect my employer to stay out of my way and let me do my work. The reality is that in my job I have one clear goal and if the work doesn’t align to that goal, I need to back away. In a classroom, one clear goal for students is to grow up to be successful adults. I can promise students that I will work to help them become successful. At the same time, I expect myself to refrain from taking on tasks that are outside the scope of my mission at work.
  4. Confident- Nothing would make me happier than giving students and colleagues the chance to express how awesome they are but, there is so much doubt and self-harm. We sabotage ourselves and we take on too much in an effort to look better. We all need to learn to calm down, take a step back, be ourselves and be proud of who we are.
  5. Genuine-Don’t pretend. Don’t lie. Just be you. This is a personal failure of my own. I often find myself in situations where I cannot utilize my innate skills. I am at a point in my life where I want to just be myself at work. I am tired of pretending and I am tired of everyone else pretending too. Kids try to look better around their peers and adults do it too.
  6. Humble- No one is perfect and we all take on tasks that are too large. We are always trying to battle for our place in the sun but, the reality is that the sun is quite large and when we find our place in the sun we will usually burn.
  7. Honest- Don’t take abuse, be honest, stand up and advocate for your rights. But, this has to be done in an appropriate and constructive context. We don’t need to jump to extremes every time. Additionally, honesty doesn’t mean telling everyone, everything. It means saying what needs to be said to keep us all safe and healthy.

If these are the skills I want students to learn and that I want the people around me to possess then I need to do two things. I need to create a situation and a system where these skills are the only skills that lead to success. Additionally, I need to do my best to educate those around me on the expectations I hold. While this may be a challenge I think that everyone can get behind these seven expectations.

I plan to post images that exemplify these qualities to remind people of my personal mission. I plan to work to exemplify these qualities and I plan to give the people around me regular reminders. I also plan to write and release stories that demonstrate these qualities. Finally, I will use positive reinforcement to reward those who have done their best.

Row Cover

Children in urban environments don’t often come in contact with large-scale agricultural practices. So, when you introduce a tool designed for a farm into a school garden, students are unable to make connections between the product and its use. When you ask children to describe word row cover, you get some interesting answers. Becuase their gardens don’t grow in traditional rows (typically they grow in small beds), their comprehension of the word and the use of the material provides them with some creative thinking. Students commented that the row cover looked like the lining under the bottom of a chair. While I personally found this response creative and intelligent, they were intrigued to learn that the real purpose of the fabric to the provide some shelter to the growing plants in the harsh fall and spring months.

Through support from the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, students at Pleasant Hill planted and covered three beds with row cover. The experience was eye-opening and helped the students think more intentionally about the environment and how humans interact with the natural world. The students drew a connection to the water cycle and to the role the sun and clouds play in regulating Earth’s temperature.

The hard work performed by the young students is nothing in comparison to the valuable lessons learned in the garden.

Fall Chick Quest Project

This fall, students at Pleasant Hill Academy and Hyde Park Elementary are incubating chicken eggs. The project is a part of OSU Extensions Chick Quest and 4-H Agri-Science in the City. With the help and support of several classroom teachers, in 3 weeks students will welcome the new baby chickens.

Check out the slideshow below to see how a chick develops inside the egg.

What’s on the horizon for 4-H Agri-Science in the City


Students can learn by reading, watching or doing. You cannot downplay the value of learning to acquire knowledge independently but, learning in groups and experiential learning are equally as valuable. Students who engage in project based learning develop a greater appreciation of fellow students from different social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, [1] seek higher-level instructional feedback and develop higher level questioning strategies. Teachers learn to identify how to integrate content into more subject areas, better facilitate student discussion, and assist in student self-assessment.[2] Additionally, students perform better on assessments as measured by pre and post-tests.[3]

Project based learning is the foundational approach of all 4-H programs. 4-H is “delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture, and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and parish in the country—through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4‑H camps.”[4]

The 4-H Agri-Science in the City program is offered during the school day to the students at Pleasant Hill through a cooperative agreement between Ohio State University Extension and Cincinnati Public Schools. Capitalizing on the Vision 2020 approach and the Environmental Science designation, students at PHA have access hundreds of self-directed projects that they can complete for our annual judging competition, in the spring. Every student who enters a project is automatically registered as a 4-H member. This gives them access to college scholarships, summer camp programs, and state wide leadership opportunities.

Additional sites for 2017-2018 include Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, John P Parker Elementary School, and Silverton Paideia Academy. Each of these sites will receive resources and periodic visits from the program manager.

Project judging is a common element for 4-H youth but is a new component to 4-H Agri-Science in the City. In January students will have an opportunity to select a project to complete in cooperation with the classroom teacher or independently at home. Examples of classroom projects include “Chick Quest”, “Rockets Away” or “Wired Up”. Students will work on their projects’ throughout the winter. Then, in May students will attend a 4-H Project Expo at the school. All students in grades 3-6 will be judged and receive placements while students in PK-2 will receive recognition and feedback for their efforts. All students’ projects will be displayed at the Hamilton County Fair, with their permission.

One of the greatest benefits of 4-H is an appreciation for self-directed education. Students, with guidance, find that spark within themselves to seek out more information in an effort to be the best that they can and produce the best project they can.

[1] (Kaldi, 2011)

[2] (Miro, 2011)

[3] (Christopher J. Harris, 2015)

[4] (4-H, 2017)

Annual Report

Want to catch up on 4-H Agri-Science in the City? Check out our annual report below.

To view the report in full screen, click on the square in the middle of the image. You will be able to zoom in by double clicking on the images in the document.

Having trouble viewing the document above, click here to download the PDF or click on the image below.

2016-2017 Annual Report

Link to Annual Report

Students holding a baby chick.


Reptiles with Cincinnati Parks Nature Next Door Camp

4-H Agri-Science in the City is excited to again work with the Cincinnati Parks, Nature Next Door camp to provide instruction to youth in four communities this summer. This season students will learn about reptiles and their habitats. Specifically, the youth will learn about Ohio Reptiles.

To see what students are learning, check out this video and try your hand at a few reptile related questions.



4-H at Rothenberg, a Success.

This summer students participating in the Imani afterschool program at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy were invited to be 4-H members for the month and explore the world of agriculture through cultural lenses. Student groups were each assigned a country, Mexico, Nigeria or India and each picked a food to study. Students learned about black eyed peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

As a culminating project, students were expected to create posters outlining what they learned about the food they studied. The 24 students in grades K-6 were able to demonstrate their knowledge and highlight the interesting facts that will certainly stay with them for a lifetime.

Check out the video below for a glimpse of what they learned.


The weather was cool and the day filled with excitement. On April 21st 4-H students from Pleasant Hill Academy participated in their first Global Youth Service Day. The project was designed to benefit the local community garden used by the College Hill Gardeners and the school. The audacious project involved over 200 students which culminated in the building of an octagon shaped garden bed and the planting of a bean tepee.

The preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students helped weed the water the garden space in preparation for the spring. The second and third-grade students helped plant seeds and plants in the raised garden beds. Then the fourth, fifth and sixth graders helped cut, design and build an octagon shaped bed to stand as a centerpiece of the garden.

The students at Pleasant Hill Academy, a Cincinnati Public School, are part of an environmental science program which lends itself well to the 4-H projects. Throughout the year, as a part of their typical curriculum, students learn about the natural world.

The project was sponsored by Serve Ohio as part of their initiative to engage more youth in Global Youth Service Day.

It was a pleasure to work with the students as they learned how to (under supervision) use a saw to cut wood and calculate the angles for the octagon bed.

In cooperation with the school, students also planted 7 commemorative trees on the property and engaged in a series of earth related activities designed to provide the students with a stronger connection to the natural world. Students were also given trees to take home and plant on their own.

4-H Agri-Science in the City is looking forward to working on more projects like this with the youth.

Serve Ohio (Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism)

Serve Ohio (Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism)

Test your Knowledge

4-H Agri-Science in the City Youth are often asked to provide feedback about what they have learned and if what they have learned has helped them develop a stronger understanding of age appropriate scientific concepts.

In an effort to streamline that process and connect environmental science to the mediums that are familiar to your youth, 4-H and environmental educators are working together to build a treasure trunk of resources to support youth.

Here is one of the first engagement tools. The online quiz is set up like a trivia game that youth can play independently or teachers can use in a classroom setting.  Check it out, give it a try and provide feedback below.


Special Thanks to our contributors:

Mary Dudley of the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati

Rebecca Supinger of OSU Extension, Greene County and

The Teachers at Pleaseant Hill Academy.

Laughter Erupted

By: Tony Staubach, Program Manager, 4-H Youth Development

Laughter and joy erupted at Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill on Wednesday as the 6th grade launched rockets and the 4th grade experimented with a banana piano.

Since September youth in 4th, 5th and 6th grade at Pleasant Hill have participated in 4-H Agri-Science in the City as an integrated part of their school day.

For several weeks, the 6th grade students have been working with 4-H Agri-Science in the City Program Manager, Tony Staubach to learn about force and motion in anticipation for their rocket launch.  The students were tasked with designing, building and evaluating the success of their rockets, which were constructed out of used 2-liter bottles, duct-tape and cardboard.

The 4-H excitement continued throughout the day as the 4th grade students began learning about electric circuits by creating a banana piano. The students were initially puzzled by the engagement exercise but became fast experts on electrical conductivity as well as the role insulators in an electric circuit.

Although 4-H Agri-Science in the City is new addition to Pleasant Hill Academy, the teachers and students have taken to the program like fish take to water. Pleasant Hill was designated the first Environmental Science School as part of the Cincinnati Public Schools Vision 2020 initiative.

Although the rocket launch is over, there is still a lot of excitement around the corner.  In April students at Pleasant Hill Academy, in addition to Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Silverton Paideia, will hatch chicken eggs as part of the annual Chick Quest program. Hatched chicks will stay at the school for one week before finding homes with local growers.

Since 1902 youth in communities both urban and rural have joined the 4-H positive youth development program to engage in project based learning and leadership development. 4-H Agri-Science in the City was created in 2014 by Ohio State University Extension, thanks to the support of State Representative Jim Buchy, to help expanded access to food, agriculture and environmental science education to youth in urban communities.