Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapter 3

Field trips.  Oh field trips.  I pretty much have a love/hate relationship with field trips.  As in I hate them but my students loved them.  In my last few years in the classroom, we did not have any field trips and it was kind of nice.  I think my dislike of field trips comes from a few tainted experiences.  I didn't like prepping, organizing, collecting money, arranging a bus, letting specials teachers and the lunch staff know we'd be gone, coordinating parents, micromanaging parents who weren't acting like adults and setting a good example, constantly counting to make sure no one is lost, non stop watch checking to make sure we were on time and we were back on time, the chaos of kids out of their normal environment....and the list goes on and on.  I think a lot of my dislike is due to the fact that we were so restricted on field trips.  In order to use the buses in our district we couldn't leave until a certain time (after the late schools started) and we had to be back by a certain time (when the high schools dismissed) which left a pretty small window of time.  Because of this, we were restricted with how far we could go which really limited the options for field trips.  This was just sad because I taught in a city that was right in between Detroit and our state capital of Lansing, which means there was no shortage of cultural events we could have exposed our students to during a day trip.  That being said we did do a few field trips that I remember - the state capital with 4th graders (this was one trip they always did even if other grades didn't get field trips), a play to see Henry and Mudge, a one room school house, a farm/dairy to connect to our social studies.  I'm sure there were a few others but they really aren't coming to mind...must not have been very memorable trips!!!

After reading this chapter, I realized that field trip doesn't mean getting on the bus and driving for an hour.  In looking at some of the strategies, I realized we did more field trip type activities than I thought.

-Business Buddies - the district I worked in was BIG on something called business buddies.  We were required to do two a year.  It was a field trip that came to us.  The coordinator in our district contacted local community members in a variety of fields about coming in and talking to students about their job.  The nice part about this was we didn't really have to coordinate it.  We told the coordinator what we were studying, what type of buddy we were looking for and when we wanted them to come in.  She was also open to other suggestions if there was something out of the box that we wanted to try.  In doing this, my students were able to meet the mayor, a weatherman, a beekeeper and a firefighter.  It was a nice way to connect to the community without leaving the building.

-Neighborhood site - we did a mini field trip every other year with the historical society in the city I taught in.  They got to see the old and new township hall, learn about voting, see a one room school house and bus tour to learn about how our community has changed.  While this could sometimes be a frustrating field trip because it wasn't always presented in a kid friendly way, it was still great that people volunteered to do this and when I would teach social studies, I could refer back to what we saw.

-Walk around the school - we would do this a lot for science to observe the weather, the seasons, plants, etc.  We also did it during math especially with our geometry unit when we would look for shapes in nature.

-Moving outside for more space.  We had a courtyard attached to our classroom that we took advantage of when we needed more space for games, or needed to use chalk on the sidewalk.  The students were outside but they were protected from the road and hidden from the playground so they could still stay focused.

-In religious ed, we walk to the building next door and go to the chapel so students can pray and practice appropriate church behavior.  Because our school and our church are not on the same property, we can not easily take our students to church to show them different things we teach about in class.  The chapel is a chance to get up and get moving and have a church like experience a little closer to the classroom.

I never really thought about these things as field trips.  To me a field trip was getting on a bus and me being more exhausted when we got home than if I had taught all day.  I guess I need to be grateful that we were allowed field trips like that, even if only for a few years.  And I need to embrace anytime we get out of the classroom to do learning outside of our normal 4 walls.  I know a lot of learning can happen during those trips and it is important for students - even if the teacher doesn't love it!