Field Trips: Navigating our World

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to go on a field trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul with my son’s art class. The high school anatomy class students were also in tow. For about 45 kids, mostly in grades 11-12,  there were three teachers and two parent chaperones.  I had not planned to go on this trip until Monday night when I went to PT conferences and found the art teacher in need of a chaperone. I volunteered immediately, but my husband put a caveat on the agreement; my son had to be okay with me going along. I felt lucky to be approved later that evening!

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Python skeleton at the Science Museum of Minnesota, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2019

Last Thursday was not the first time I’ve been a chaperone on a field trip with high school students. In the past, I have served as a chaperone for two band trips – one, in 2010, to Florida’s Walt Disney World for a performance in Epcot, and another in 2013 to New York City. The New York City trip had several performance venues such as Lincoln Center, and the USS Intrepid for the band and a large cathedral for the choir.  For many reasons, the NYC field trip was my most favorite but also the most work. I had eight students assigned to me for the five-day trip – several of whom had special dietary requirements. Most other chaperones only had four students. I’m still not sure why several of us were assigned eight but it was a little too much. The extra students made decision making very difficult surrounding meals and what to do with our “free afternoons” such as going to Times Square or Rockefeller Center.  The responsibility was overwhelming at times. Growing up in the midwest, many of our students had never been to NYC before, and this made them vulnerable to several dangers like standing too close to the curb or losing track of what street we had walked down while wandering.  Still, all the activities that were included in this jam-packed trip made it well worth the effort to be a chaperone. We saw Phantom of the Opera, the Blue Man Group,  and toured NY Harbour on a Ferry to name just a few.

So, the one day trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota was totally enjoyable and innocuous as far as chaperoning responsibilities. The students were mature, seemed responsible, and engaged in exhibits. I had plenty of time to keep an eye on them, as well as enjoy the exhibits myself.  Basically, I needed to make sure my group got on the bus at the high school, stayed in the museum for our allotted time, and returned to the bus when we went to leave. I was given a student list with phone numbers for texting or calling if necessary, and they all had mine, as well as the teachers’ numbers. I knew some of the students from their time in elementary school where I subbed for about six years in various classrooms, ran an afterschool garden club for over a decade, and also went on field trips as an involved parent.  It was a great group of students and I only had to keep track of seven of them for one afternoon, in one five-story building. Easy peasy.

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       Circulatory System of the Hand, Body Worlds Exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota            © Carol Labuzzetta, 2019

Although field trips are not always successful in terms of learning material, I do think they add to a student’s knowledge base. Being able to navigate the world today is an important life skill. Chaperones, if willing to take the responsibility, can help students learn from the places to which they travel. I know I have never regretted going on a field trip as a chaperone.

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Lady Liberty, New York Harbour, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. This is a blog forum hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. They graciously provide a wonderful atmosphere in which educators and authors can share their writing. I have been participating in this group for over three years! Thank you!

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