Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Lame Fieldtrip (Or: I Couldn't Make this Stuff Up!)

For my class’s second fieldtrip I wanted to take them out of the neighborhood, farther than mere walking distance and came up with a trip to see the film Freedom Writers. Did I think it would inspire the students to scribe eloquent prose in my classroom? Well, no. With a class average of 3rd grade literacy I didn’t figure on churning out any Yeats after a watching a movie. However, I figured maybe it’d spark some interest in debate, maybe show the teacher’s side of the classroom, and for no other reason—get the kids out of the school for a while.

Or, at least that was the plan.

Problem #1: While walking toward the theater in downtown Brooklyn, after a pretty successful ride on the subway one of my students got pooped on. Even worse, it was the sole female student. Death from above! My kids are called emotionally disturbed for a reason, and this girl was FREAKING OUT about the poopage. And, in all honestly, I really couldn’t blame her…the devious pigeon’s aim couldn’t have been more detrimental SPLAT, straight to the top of her head, a little on a cheek, and the rest on the side of her coat. Danielle’s voice rose in pitch and volume, cursing and rubbing her hands into the mess in her hair. I can’t say that I thought fast, or said “just the right thing” however I did try to minimize the event by dispatching a paraprofessional to take my girl into the nearest bathroom inside a McD’s and clean up. I can safely say that the Teaching Fellow program did not ready me for fecal-therapy.


Problem #2 (the big one): We were rounding the corner and coming up to the movie theater when we saw an explosion of school children. It was like every school in Brooklyn took their students to this exact spot. After waiting in line with my antsy students (Derek kept threatening to kick the asses of the half-his-age students ahead of us) Freedom Writers was sold out. Lame. Really lame, and no one to blame but fate.

OK, I thought to myself, I could salvage this trip by letting the kids see Stomp The Yard. I could put up with 90 minutes of step-dancing as long as my kids didn’t go home empty handed. Or so I thought. Four minutes later: Stomp the Yard sold out. And the hoards of students kept piling in, lined up down the block and up the next street. I offered to take the kids to see Dream Girls, however, my students decided to cut their losses and go.




Problem #3 (the most irritating one): After not watching the movie I took the kids to Popeyes, thinking to at least get them fed so the whole trip didn’t suck. And with so much extra time I figured we could take the kids on a book-finding expedition…seeking out the local Barnes and Nobles and making a list of books desired to put into our class library. A fine idea in theory.

A little back-story on our little class trip: One of the students going with us to the movie was NOT supposed to go. This student being the one who punched out the windows in my class and started several fights that week. I didn’t really think we could control this student on a class trip, and my administrator decided that he’d be fine to go. The assistant principal said that if worse came to worse I could call his mother’s cell phone and dismiss the student from the trip. Right—like that would do any real good if the young man went postal.

So there we were in Barnes and Nobles, the majority of my students browsing, picking out books they wouldn’t mind subjecting their brains to…and out of the corner of my eye I see my “trouble student” flipping through a porno mag. First of all, I didn’t think B & N carried porn. Secondly, if they did carry dirty magazines…wouldn’t they hide them? It was when I saw the kid trying to stuff the magazine into his coat that I flipped out. I couldn’t imagine calling his mother and telling her what her boy was stealing…or worse if security caught him at the door; I was picturing headlines like:

“Inexperienced Teacher Blamed as Unruly, Underage Student Steals Skin Mag”

So instead of keeping a low profile, murmuring reasonably to my student about why stealing is wrong, and generally a bad idea nowadays due to technologically savvy security teams…I shouted: “Put that down! NOW!” Heads turned, my other students were mortified, saying they would never go on another trip if Derek came along. (And for the most part, aside from the pooping…these ED students acted like normal kids in public, I was proud of them.)

I hustled them all out of the store and declared the fieldtrip over, telling the kids they didn’t have to go back to school, but they couldn’t stay here.

7 Comments:

Blogger 17 more years said...

Your administration amazes me. For starters, YOU were responsible for that kid, not the principal or the AP- so I would have cancelled the trip rather than take the problem child along with me. We ban kids from trips all the time, for much lesser behaviors than breaking windows and starting fights. But my favorite was "dismissing" the kid from the trip based on verbal consent from the mother. If that happened, and the kid was hit by a car on the way home, she would have slapped the DOE with a lawsuit so fast it would have made your head spin.

I hate to say this, and it might sound cruel, but here is some advice if you are going to make it in this profession (and please know that I know that you are young and this is your first year). You need to develop a backbone- fast. They bamboozled you over "Mark" and put you in a dangerous position by allowing this kid on your trip.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ms. C said...

YOu make a very good point about sticking up for myself, however, cancelling the trip never even crossed my mind. Who would have suffered if I cancelled the fieldtrip? My students. They were the foremost on my mind.

Maybe it comes with age and experience, because I told the AP that I didn't think the student should have come on the trip, and the AP was oh-so-reasonable about him, it ended up making me feel like a louse for trying to forbid the student from coming.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

And if something had happened to that child, your admins would never admit to saying what they did. The rule is, if a child is bad, the parent must accompany him on the trip.

Next time your admins hit you with those details, ask them to put it in writing.

As for movie trips, I usually book in advance. How many students were buying tickets and how many were already booked in advance?

Monday, January 29, 2007 7:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ms. C said...

I only had 5 students with me, and it didn't seem like anyone booked in advance...all the other kids were waiting in line ahead of us.

I tried to get tickets through Fandango, but the school had tickets already for the movie theater and wouldn't have paid me back if I bought other tickets.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

It sounds like they overbooked.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:56:00 PM  
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Anonymous george said...

yea, i try to order tix prior to and just have kids bring in money, though not sure of financial situation of your students, but i teach in bronx and im sure it cant be much worse...

your blogs are very interesting cause they remind me of my times learning the trade, it gets easier, but i got to say you're learning lessons alot quicker than other teachers i know, good work and if you need some feedback or to bounce some ideas back, let me know- george

Friday, May 18, 2007 7:15:00 AM  

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