Monday, May 02, 2011

Excitement is mounting!! Our annual 8th grade trip to Detroit is THIS week. For many students in my school, this is their first trip to a city. For others, they go places with thier families regularly. Whatever the circumstances, a class field trip, over 6 hours on a school bus, 2 nights in a hotel, a professional sporting event - TIGERS game!, 3 days with friends and teachers is one of those lifetime opportunities.

For me, these kinds of trips are more about the bonding than anything educational that happens on the trip. The stories, the pictures, the amazing-ness of the journey, is powerful in ways teachers who choose not to ever be a part of something like this will never 'get'. As a teacher, you see students in such a different way - the classroom leaders often become wallflowers out of their element, and in contrast, the quiet, non-contributing class member, shines when out in public. I am always amazed how they rise to the occasion and each and every venue we visit.

I remember many years ago, there was this particularly annoying young man in 8th grade. At the time, I taught 7th grade, and to be honest, was quite happy to see him move onto 8th grade. He was not horrible, instead just a persistent thorn in your side kind of kid. The 8th grade teachers didn't want to take him, but he wanted to go, and mom wanted him to go. At some point, I said I would go along on the trip, and take him in my group, and take responsibility for him and his behaviors. Even as I volunteered, I shuddered to think what antics he might find to amuse himself with. One particular part of the trip concerned me - the Holocaust Memorial. We were scheduled to hear a Holocaust survivor speak. I was terrified this young man would do something, even inadvertently, during the presentation - make a rude comment, giggle inappropriately, belch... the possibilities seemed endless in my mind. He and I had a heart to heart chat before the event, with him assuring me he'd be on his best behavior. I believed he believed that, I just wasn't sure that would be good enough. When we took our seats in the large room, he and took front row, center seats, me thinking what a bad idea this was, how seats by an exit would have been a better idea. Once the elderly man began to speak, my kiddo leaned forward in his seat, elbows on his knees, listening raptly, almost not breathing, the entire hour long presentation. I was shocked. I was proud, amazed and impressed.

I've learned to never make assumptions about students and what they will or won't do. You just never know...

As we pull out of town in that big yellow limousine Wednesday morning, and I look at the charges we're taking along, I know this trip will be just another page in my teacher memory book where I will long look back fondly.

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