Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Trip with Sixth Graders

I recently went on my first trip at my new school.  While it was awesome-- my sixth graders are a lovely group-- the teachers seemed very stressed even though we were at an interactive museum with a science playgroup where the kids could safely run around and explore.

I mentioned this to one of the teachers, and was told that the school projects this energy around trips.  There seems to be an overall worry that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong.

At one point, after I had finished scaling the rope jungle gym, with encouragement from a student I'll call N, I had to monitor my energy by leaving a certain area of the playground and heading to another.  In the midst of such a fun, hands-on trip, there were unnecessarily sharp words and uncalled for attitude towards the children. So I removed myself.

I am aware that people don't always know what they're putting out.  Since energy is a big deal to me and I am sensitive to it, I noticed the slight stress. Maybe this is due to my self-contained teacher past, but I allow children to be children with guidelines of course.  I do not anticipate the worst and then prepare for it by being overbearing and in turn, stressed out.  I have the ability to keep tabs on ten children even if they're not hanging off my arms.  It's my job to know where they are, even if that means knowing they are in the vicinity of a place.

On a brighter note, I took pictures with my new, bright purple Olympus E-PM1, and bonded with the students in a way I hadn't prior to the trip.  The students saw another side of me-- wearing jeans, climbing ropes, enjoying myself, choosing to take my group into the gift shop and not being worried about what a disaster that would be.  Likewise, I saw different sides of them-- from N helping me scale the ropes and giving me confidence, to the student who remembered the bus numbers.

Trips are important.  Another thing I miss about teaching self-contained in my prior environment is being able to take my students on seemingly-random trips aorund New York City to learn.  This city is amazing in that there are so many oppurtunitites to learn.  As a middle school teacher, I think it is important for me to expose my students to new things, all the while teaching reading, writing, lsitening and speaking.

Miss M

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