Friday, July 1, 2011

FCCLA State Conference Attendance

This year was a year of firsts for me as an FCCLA advisor. This was the first year I have taken students to compete at the State conference. It was also the first year I have had a student compete in the Foods Events and Johnson and Wales University. And it was the first time I have worked to chair a STAR event at state competition. Needless to say, the year of firsts has been a big learning experience for me as an advisor. The experiences have shown light upon things I need to work on as an advisor, and things I need to help my students with to help them better prepare for their competitive events.

Registering kids to compete at conference was initially very intimidating. My biggest fear was being unfamiliar with the competitive process and the event specifications, and thus putting my students at a disadvantage. We made the rule as a chapter that the only way students could attend State Conference was if they completed a project. This decreased the chance of having students attend who were not in it for the right reasons. We had a total of 4 students who ended up competing; one in Interior Design, Fashion Constructions, and Life Event planning, and one at the Baking and Pastry food event a few weeks later.

The three students we had completing STAR events worked hard and put in many hours preparing their projects. One of the best parts of preparing for state was seeing the kids get more and more excited as their work on their projects progressed. As an advisor, I tried to set deadlines and benchmarks for them to have specific parts of their projects done. One thing I learned is that I need to be more firm in holding the students to their deadlines. I made it too easy for them to get behind, which in the end resulted in them having to do a lot of catch up work right before we left for the conference. All three had pretty good experiences competing, and the two who are underclassman plan on attending again next year. They also now have the experience of competition under their belts which makes it easier for them to recruit and excite new members. I think one of the best ways to get new members into your chapter, is having the kids share their excitement. Then other students will see the benefits from someone they can relate to, and not just some adult telling them they should be a part of it. Next year I am going to have these three girls come into my classes and share their projects and experiences with them, so my new students can hear first hand from someone who experienced it.

One of the biggest struggles I had with preparing kids is that all three of them are students who were not currently in one of my classes. This meant that I did not get to see them on a regular basis. The majority of the time we had to help them was after school, and sometimes finding the time to be able to work together and coordinate schedules became difficult. Another struggle I had was completely understanding all of the specifications for each event. There are so many small details that must be followed that it can become overwhelming. Especially since all three students were competing in different events.

Taking one of my catering students was probably the most exciting part of the state conference. She is an aspiring chef and will be attending JWU next fall, and so she was ready and eager to dive right in. She practiced preparing her quick breads, choux paste, and cake decorating at home many times and during one of our FCCLA after school meetings as well. She did a great amount of work and research to prepare herself, and her dedication and excitement to doing well was clear. It made me proud to see one of my students preparing for her future occupation in a class I teach! I have already asked her to come back next year and talk to my future students about her event and what the competition was like. I think having a former student share their experiences with my classes may help recruit more students for next year! The food events were very fun to observe. It is great to see how professional the students behave and how seriously they take their competitions. Some of the knowledge and talent the kids have is incredibly impressive!

Even though the format of the conference was different this year than in past years, I found that having the food events on a different day to be more accommodating. This allowed me to attend the food competition with my student to observe her and chair a STAR event at the Marriott, which I would not have been able to do had the competition followed the previous year’s format. Being there and being part of the process helped me better understand how FCCLA works which will ultimately help me become better at recruiting more students into our organization. Before taking students with competitive events, I was very unfamiliar with the process and expectations. The theory of the best way to learn is by doing, was proved to me once again and I look forward to taking back the things I have learned and sharing them with potential FCCLA members in my classes. My own new found understanding for the FCCLA Competitative process alone will help me be a better Advisor and recruiter

No comments:

Post a Comment