Would you like to chaperone?
My son’s eighth grade social studies teacher reached out to me to chaperone a field trip about three weeks ago. The last field trip I chaperoned was a choir festival and it was a joy, so sign me up for sure! The teacher sent some emails regarding the trip, but you know I am busy, so I did not really take the time to read them. I had the date and time on my calendar, that was good enough. The night before the field trip, I received an email with an attached bus list. I decided to open that attachment up and review the students on my bus. At that point I noticed that there were only two parent chaperones, so I figured that I better read the itinerary of the day. Well, to my surprise this field trip was outdoors! The expected temperature for the day was a high of 30 degrees. My mind raced, what? It’s too cold for me! I was not even planning on a hat, now I had to think about boots and layers. Why did I not read the email three weeks ago? I cannot believe I did not read the emails! Is it too late to back out of this trip? No, I cannot do that, I committed to this and as an educator I know how difficult it is to get parent volunteers during the day. I am not one to back out of a commitment, even when there are surprises. Cold or not, I am going to go with a smile on my face. I try telling my eighth grader that we need to bundle up in every imaginable winter item and find our boots. He was not into my idea and decides that sneakers are good enough for him. We are going on a field trip in a field, a farm in fact, we really need boots! There is no convincing him at that moment, so I decide to bring the boots to school.
The day is here
As, I arrive to school, everyone is hustling around ready to go. My son still is not convinced that boots are a good idea, but he grabs his hat, coat, and gloves. Some students were well prepared with winter gear and some were not, even though the teacher did remind them to bring warm items. But, when you are a middle school kid, there are a lot of things to ponder in selecting what you wear around your peers.
After a thirty minute bus ride, our destination was a hill of pure ice, so the bus drivers decide they better not drive up the hill and risk the inability to turn around. I for one, thought this was an excellent idea, no need to get stuck outside for more than two hours. While sitting on the warm bus mind was thinking Starbucks would be great to have on this outside adventure, But, my reality was an icy hill to climb and acres of fields to walk. The Starbucks idea was forgotten as we trudged up the icy hill. The students were extremely talkative and ready to embark on their journey not caring about the cold or ice. Once we reached the central location, items were distributed, directions were reviewed, and the task of claiming land was underway.
The paths were snow covered, glad I had bundled up and I wondered if any of the sneaker kids wished they would have worn boots. As I wandered around with the students and talked about the activity, I was thinking to myself that I wish I would have read the directions in the email one more time. Then, I realized I did not have any idea where we were in this massive woods. I am certain the thought of being lost did not even cross the minds of these students. They were running around, reading the maps, and doing the required tasks. The students were working in teams and supporting and encouraging one another. At the specified time, everyone arrived back at the meeting location safely. There was only one small problem, one phone was lost, which would result in that family returning to the farm to explore more with the intention of finding that phone.
The bus ride back was full of energy and laughter. During the ride, my mind wandered back to when I was a middle school teacher and how I really enjoyed teaching at the middle school level. As we arrived back at school and exited the bus, I heard many of the students thanking the bus driver! I was extremely impressed with the kindness they had exhibited during the day and felt so fortunate to have an amazing school and local community.
As I drove home, I was all bundled up and cold, but warm on the inside. I reflected on this amazing day and how happy I was to be apart of it. Thank you teacher for asking me! This day in the cold snow with two bus loads of eighth graders, reminded me that…
- Kids know things, we need to listen to them – this really hit home as I was in the woods and they were wanting to direct where we were going and what we were doing. Let them lead!
- Middle school students are kind – the thank you’s I heard leaving that bus, made me so proud.
- Be present – kids appreciate attention. These students talked to me constantly, in the field, on the bus, and at the school. They crave positive interactions with adults. We need to be present with the kids.
- Teachers work hard and care – extra activities and trips take time, collaboration, and planning. Schedules and lunches need to be adjusted and the day needs to be meaningful and organized.
- Parents want to be involved – even though the night before I did not want to be out in the cold temperatures, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
- Read emails and directions – I was the parent that did not read the school notes, and I almost showed up for an outdoor field trip extremely underprepared.
As I talked to Macy, a student I really enjoy, I looked at her young face and it brought me right back to teaching (I have been in administration for 17 years) and made me feel so certain that I chose the right profession. I absolutely love being around kids and there is no other job that can bring so much satisfaction. Thank you eighth graders for a fun day!