A Note To Teachers About to Go on a Field Trip:
Field trips are great opportunities to get kids out of the school and into the world. When I worked as a classroom aide years ago, I got to go to the theatre, to the movies, to the courthouse, to the museum and to art installations. I loved those days. I worked with teens with disabilities and went to provide whatever support was needed. I enjoyed it. The kids I worked with did too ... except back in those days getting in to places was a lot more difficult than it is now. The field trips gave all the students the opportunity to see things that are only discussed in the classroom.
What students who are out to see things forget seems to be what teachers seem to forget too ... that they are also seen and heard. Their behaviour is noticed. They are not invisible and their actions have consequences.
Joe and I went to the museum today for a few minutes to pick up a brochure we needed. We went in for a quick look in the gem room, which is an amazing place to spend some time. The main foyer was full of students, all in their early teens. I tense up around large groups of kids. I know that most of them are great kids but those that aren't aren't. I am fat. I am a wheelchair user. I am the perfect target for even those with poor aim.
That a teacher can't recognise what a risky situation is and react to it surprises me. It seems that they are just trying to get the kids from one place to another that they forget that while they have a responsibility to the students they also have a responsibility to the museum and to the other patrons there.
Our timing was terrible because we had to stop as the group poured up a set of stairs and headed by us in a long stream. We had to stop and wait for them to file by me. The 'pig' noises were one thing, the 'Whoa man, look at the fat guy,' was another but the outrageous behaviour, obvious to all in the area, a few other people stopped to wait, coming from the other side, looked at me with sympathy - and I think with a sense of gratitude that was a strong enough magnet to pull attention away from them. But the supervisors were oblivious, I think purposely so.
So to teachers.
If you've been teaching for more than 15 seconds you will be able to do a risk analysis for rude and immature behaviour when in the community. Risk situations should be responded to properly. Maybe do the following four things:
1) outline expectations of behaviour before leaving, places should not become unsafe because you are taking your class there
2) plan with your other chaperones for strategies to deal with high risk situations and be ready to intervene
3) don't be afraid to use your authority in public, it isn't shaming to call someone on shaming another
4) be unafraid of high expectations for your students
On our way out of the gem gallery we were on the second floor of the rotunda and Joe looked down and said, "Let's wait for a few seconds." He then told me that another group of students were filing into one of the rooms below. I refused to wait. I have a right to expect to be safe in public places. I rode down with anxiety in my throat. They were all gone by the time the elevator doors open. I was relieved.
It shouldn't be chance that keeps me safe, it should be your preparation and your supervision.
It should be.
But it hasn't happened yet.