Friday, April 12, 2013

Kids Before Students

On Monday morning at approximately 7:30 am, I'll be leaving our middle school on a journey to Charlton, Ma with about 67 seventh graders.  We are heading to Nature's Classroom for a week long expedition.  What better way can you think of to spend your April vacation?? Seriously, though. There's something to be said for traveling with students, and say it I will.

Yes, it's a HUGE responsibility.  Yes, it takes lots of planning, lots of emails, and lots of paperwork.  This is all very true. All the tasks that need to be taken care of before the trip, are, to put it bluntly, a pain.  However, traveling with students allows you to see them in a whole new light; outside of the classroom.  And while your purpose in taking them on a trip may be academic exploration, it's really the other things that they (and I) remember most.  I'd like to share a few highlights with you...

  • We are always wanting our students to ask great questions.  Last year, on our NC trip, I was asked the greatest question of all: "Ms. Anderson, how sunburnt am I on a scale of a French fry with no ketchup to a French fry covered in ketchup?" Now I don't know about you, but I have to say this is about the best scale I can think of to determine sunburn severity.
  • Taking a class at NC about using natural ingredients to take care of your skin, and smearing bananas and oatmeal all over my face alongside my seventh graders.  I have to say, it works!
  • Watching one of my seventh graders (one of my gifted, and more sophisticated students) eat a worm.  A move that I assumed to be way out of left field for this child.  It was great watching him be a kid, instead of the super serious student I saw in the classroom everyday.
  • Watching two of the sportier boys in my class, who are always focused on basketball, football, baseball, and the like, learning how to salsa dance, dipping and lifting included.
  • Hearing my current 8th graders say things like, "I cried when we had to leave Nature's Classroom! That was the best week ever!"
I guess what I'm trying to say is that despite the headaches I've had to deal with the last few months in planning this trip, I'm really looking forward to seeing my students in a different light, without the pressure of school. I love seeing my students when they are not students, when instead they are just kids. They are asking hilariously creative questions, stepping out of their comfort zones, and attempting something brand new.  It helps me to remember to relax in the classroom, and to remember that yes, it is a place for students, but more importantly, it is a place for children.

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