Field Trip Forms – Field Trip

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Field Trip Forms – Field Trip

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Field Trip Forms – Field Trip

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Charles Kramer
Florida teacher

 

Think back to the first time you were able to step outside of the classroom with your class. The nervousness you felt loading the students onto the bus, the million ‘thank-yous’ to the parent chaperones, chatting with the overly friendly bus driver, and the general sense of uncertainty of what was about to happen next. As a culture raised on Dateline and 60 Minutes, we are conditioned to be vigilant of the ever-present danger lurking around every corner, and awareness amplifies to a point unknown prior during your first-time off school grounds with a class full of third graders. For me, my first time going off school grounds was unexpected and pulled me out of my toasty workspace on a frigid, but sunny, Tuesday Morning in March to help monitor a class of fifth graders as they toured the One World Trade Center in Manhattan. Yes, you are reading this correctly, I was new to New York, only two months in the city at this point, had landed in a small school on the admin team in Flatbush, and the flagship experience of the spring was a trip to the One World Trade Building. 

I was a recent transplant to New York, never having stepped foot in the city until I decided to make the move from the south to the Big Apple, struggling with the subway, a sublet, and sunrise to sunrise mindset that seems to creep into who you are when you are in the city. I was fortunate to quickly find a job and pay my rent and my loans all at the same time, but still had no idea what I was doing in the role, and had never really engaged with students, teachers, parents, or any of the number of people you see throughout your day when working in the school’s main office. On that Tuesday morning my supervisor walked over, looked at me, and said “want to take a trip?” My mind immediately swirled to the worst-case scenario: what did I do? Am I going to have to speak to the principal? Am I getting fired? My supervisor could see the fear in my eyes and said “chill – Ms. Janis called out with the flu and we need a member of staff to chaperone the field trip today.” Having spent the last two months navigating internal policies, child protection training, attending PD geared for educators (still no idea why that was a requirement of my admin job), and trying to understand the systems used for everything from monitoring attendance to contacting service providers, I had completely forgotten about the no guidance provided deliverable of scheduling a class trip for 100 students and their teachers scheduled for that very morning.

I looked at my supervisor and said “sounds good – it will be my first time in the One World Trade Building” with a huge smile. As a transplant who was still in the honeymoon phase of living in New York, this was the best thing that could have happened! I would have the opportunity to spend a day away from my desk, albeit mostly on a yellow school bus, going into Manhattan to visit an iconic building that represented so much to New Yorkers and the rest of the United States. 

“Great – they’re leaving in 30 minutes. I need you to review the field trip forms we have here from the parents confirming the students are able to go, and if any form is missing, quickly follow up with the teacher to see if you can call the parent for a verbal confirmation.” 

There goes my hope for a coffee before loading the children on the bus.

Being new, I oblige and go through every form we have and confirm that all the field trip forms are present, and I even found time to pull the list of parent chaperones and learn their names before we headed out. I know – gold medal administrative excellence from the new guy – be impressed. 

After about 20 minutes – the buses show up outside of the front door of the school, the students begin to shuffle down the hallways and descend four flights of stairs leading up to their classrooms. Being New York, spaces are repurposed and outfit for whoever is paying the rent. In this case, the school was in an old six story warehouse, so loading the kids and getting them in and out of the classrooms was, unbeknownst to me, a logistical nightmare. After a 45-minute loading process – we were off! What a good feeling it was, for a about 2 minutes. I was sitting on a questionably maintained school bus, driving through Brooklyn as rush hour tapered off, melting because the bus’s heater was broken and pumping heat at 90 degrees, it was that or driving in a metal tube through the freezing city, to then stop in front of the One World Trade Building and try to keep 30 students from running into traffic, guide them through security, and get them to the line to the elevator that brings you up 100 floors to the observation deck of the tower.

Moral of the story: experiential learning is not just for the students, and it never stops!

While the morning proved to be a logistical nightmare at times, riding up an elevator that walks you through the history of New York City, the evolution of the city, and ultimately stops to open to a room with another screen that drops to a jaw dropping view of the city was worth it. It was not the students “ooo-ing and Ahh-ing” loudly, it was me! The sight of the city, the view above all other buildings in all directions that allowed you to see over the Atlantic or over the city was incredible and was made all the better because I was there with a class full of students who were equally as amazed and excited about being up in the air overlooking the city, they have been a part of all their lives. 

While I can look back and jokingly remember the difficult or inconvenient parts of that day, it was a good reminder that the experience of seeing something new or different for the first time helps form who you are. Regardless that my morning had started with a request to sort field trip forms, it ended 100 stories in the sky taking in a view that validated the experience and the choice to be there with the teachers, students and parents. 

Moral of the story: experiential learning is not just for the students, and it never stops!

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