Anne Smieszny Silva
Once upon a time, there was a Spanish teacher who was tired of always being considered “just a Specials class.” The evil science teacher got new materials, the scheming social studies teacher got to organize a special event outside in the sunshine, and the hoity-toity English teacher next door was always wallpapering the hallway with Pulitzer-prize winning works of student literature.
“I must do something that will knock their socks off!” the Spanish teacher exclaimed. “I know…I’ll take my class on…(gasp!) A FIELD TRIP!”
“No! Surely you jest!” replied her colleagues, “No Spanish teacher has ever taken a class on a field trip and survived! Besides, what makes you think that a field trip will teach your students anything about Spanish?! We live in Scranton!” And worse, the ubiquitous horror stories from Spanish teachers past, about calamities that befell these renegade Spanish teachers who ventured to take their class outside the school walls.
“Ay, there’s the rub,” thought the Spanish teacher to herself. “What can we do that will be meaningful without requiring passports?!”
So she thought and thought, and although terrified, arranged a trip for her class to the performance of the Hispanic Flamenco Ballet. The day of the field trip came; all permission slips were accounted for, all bureaucracy surmounted. The teacher was up at dawn, certain that some catastrophe—tattoos, broken limbs, food poisoning, severe boredom—would beset them. And in the back of her mind, that unspoken fear: “They’ll think it’s stupid and I will have lost them for the rest of the year.”
And do you know what happened? They all survived. Nobody returned to school with piercings of any kind, nor loss of life nor limb. In fact, the students enjoyed themselves thoroughly, and wrote enthusiastically about the cultural insights they had gained—more enthusiastically, in fact, than they had participated in the science fair, or the outside social studies event, or their beautiful English projects.
And it was good.
Have you ever taken your students on a field trip? How did it turn out? What were your fears? What were the obstacles? What did you learn?