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Entry date: 1-14-2022 - Field Trips Are Fun - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I spent today at the Arizona Science Center with the vast majority of the 2nd grade at my school. We were also joined by a group of parents who are probably regretting their decision to be a chaperone, which I will get to in a moment. All in all, there were about 200 souls that entered the Science Center and I’m not sure if they all got on the buses at 1:45pm when we were released from science Purgatory.

To properly tell this story, I must start at the beginning.

During a team meeting in late 2021, some asshole, probably me, brought up the fact that we are allowed to take the kids on two field trips during the year. You know those things that you bring up in a group of people that seem like a really good idea at the time because they are far enough away that the logistics aren’t really things you have to worry about? This was definitely one of those times.

There are several hoops one (or a group of teachers) have to jump through to make a field trip happen. There is the whole procurement of funds from the school/district, buses to line up, lunches to figure out, chaperones to beg, borrow, or steal, and permission slips to send out to the parents/caregivers. This process takes a while.

For me, when we got the go ahead to do the field trip from administration, I had enough chaperones in the first 30 minutes of announcing the date and location to cover my class. I have a wonderful group of parents who are awesome and involved and like to help out. I had twice as many volunteers as any of my teammates and, of course, I lorded this over them at every opportunity.

I’m pretty sure they secretly hate me, at times, because my class is well-behaved, I get lots of things donated like masks, water, pencils, and snacks, and my kids love me. Not that their kids don’t love them, because they do, but it’s probably the way that I lord things over them in a subtle, “oh, by the way, if you need your kids to be part of one of my groups, it’s okay. I have 15 parents who volunteered and a waiting list of a few others if needed.”

They can’t see my smarmy grin under my mask, but they might hear it.

(To be honest, I just got lucky with my parent group. I don’t think it is anything I’ve done other than being respectful to them and answering their questions as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.)

Anyway, I digress.

The day started off with a bang as one of my teammates announced on our group text chain their positive result for a Covid test. This was the 2nd of my teammates to announce this in about 12 hours. Luckily, we already had one of our curriculum coaches coming on the trip and our school administration sent the other to help, as well. I think we know have about a dozen teachers out with COVID as of this writing.

The struggle is real. Don’t let anyone ever tell you COVID is fake. We have a bunch of students out with it, too. I would not be surprised if it’s worse next week considering how many students don’t seem to want to wear a mask. Sure, they’re eight, but c’mon!

It occurred to me on the way to work that I would have to step up in a big way, and I’m fine with that, but I was also running late. For some reason, I am not motivated to get to school early right now. Perhaps it is the reckless disregard for health and safety all around me every day?

When I got to work, the kids were literally bouncing off the walls. I get that they were excited and in my heart of hearts, I love it, but in my brain, I wasn’t quite ready for it. I don’t drink coffee, so I’m a bit of a slow starter at times when my energy level is not quite as high as the kids. That feeling of, “Hey, this was a good idea a month ago,” was clearly winning at 7:40am today.

Parents were messaging me saying they were running late and that they hoped they weren’t going to miss the bus, which left at 8:30am. If you’ve ever had 20 or so people asking you for things at the same time, you know what my morning was like between 8am and 8:30am. We got to board the bus, though, and our driver was super cool so off we went to the Center.

As we drove to the heart of the city, it was really cool to hear the kids talking about the city that I often take for granted. One of my students who was sitting near me on the bus told me that he had never seen downtown before. The wonder in his eyes was amazing. I wish I could have bottled what he was feeling. As we got closer to the Center, the kids and even some of the parents seemed genuinely giddy.

Then all hell broke loose.

While the majority of my class was pretty composed and we had small groups of kids with each chaperone group, some of the kids lost their fucking minds when we got into the building. Thanks to the kind people at the Arizona Science Center, we got to go in about an hour before they open to the public and you would have thought someone told some kids that it was their job to break everything they could see or touch.

Within minutes, for example, a huge chess set that was set up and ready to go in the lobby area was destroyed. Children were sword fighting with the bishops and I was close to losing my mind. As I walked around and checked in on my class, the carnage I saw reflected in so many eyes made me question my sanity. I asked a few parents, “How do you feel about your decision to be here today?” and they laughed the laugh of those who knew, with all confidence, they would not be volunteering again.

Mercifully, the time went quickly, and the kids were much mellower by the time we wrenched them away from the bubble making area and the poor, decimated chess board. Our bus driver on the way back didn’t really speak to us at all, which was perfect, and we arrived back to school safely and on-time. When I saw my principal, I asked her if we had to do a second field trip this year and she looked at me closely and said, “You’re really supposed to do two.”

I nodded solemnly and said, “Sounds good” as I lied through my teeth.

See you tomorrow.

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