Monte Sebly at the Kansas Ag in the Classroom Conference

(Monte Selby) Good morning. My name is Monte Selby. I came to Salina, Kansas for the Kansas Ag in the Classroom Conference. I live in Colorado but I was a Kansas teacher, principal, and also a professor. What we’re looking at is ways to connect with kids or connect with other people. And, yes, I have a guitar. It seems funny for Ag in the Classroom but part of what we did was just look at why do hit songs stick in your head and why are they so memorable. And in the same way when we want to share things with other people, how do we take some ideas from songs to make it that memorable? So, one of the things you try to do as a songwriter is connect with your audience obviously. And that usually happens best when it’s about them. So, we move from songs to classrooms and connecting with other people, whether it’s kids or adults. So, one of the things with what we’re trying to do is help kids understand something that’s out there that maybe they’re not so familiar with but they need to learn about. And in Kansas, agriculture is a great thing to actually learn about. And it involves science, art, math and, obviously, reading. And, there are so many things about that that provide a great learning opportunity that kids are already interested in. Kids are interested in plants and kids are interested in animals. So, one of my big things today was talking about bringing what’s out there in terms of in Kansas. What is out beyond the classroom that can come into the classroom as a way to engage kids and to hook them? Just like songwriters try to know what you’re interested in and bring that into a song. Now that if Ag comes into the classroom and you can add that to things kids learn. Then when the things kids need to learn, they also see it outside of the classroom walls. So, they’re seeing it in nature. They’re seeing it on the farm. And they’re seeing it in animals. And, one of the stories that I shared today was about a young man in high school that I met in North Dakota who does not see himself as smart. So, school is tough for him. But when I asked him about what do you like to do, he told me about taking mowers apart and taking the motor from one into another and downloading the schematics so he can rewire it. And all the sudden in that part of his life he’s brilliant. And ultimately, he loves to work on stuff and he uses all kinds of things we learn in school to do it but he doesn’t see himself as school smart. So, with writing a song with him, making the connection to what he already loves to do, open the door for us to become writers. And so, I might play you just a touch of that song. And it’s just straight out of his life. It goes like this. As soon as I could walk, I’d go and watch my dad. He’d fix, repair sometimes rebuild about everything here we had. Well, then when I got older, he’d always show me how ‘cause learning how to fix things is worth passing down. I love to work on stuff. I love to make it run. Take it all apart, put it back again, that’s what I call fun. So, if it’s rusted, clogged or broken, and if it’s missing what it needs I’m the one to call. Yeah, I can fix anything. So, that’s the beginning of the song. And, actually, a lot of my life is meeting with people, whether it’s adults or with kids or professional songwriters, and trying to think about what we have to say and how do we put it into a song. Because most people know songs and they enjoy songs. And, anytime you want to get a hold of me, look me up. Just hit and you’ll find my email, my phone, and give me a call because I love to talk about teaching and making it engaging. And I love to talk about music and writing songs. And if I can be of help let me know.

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