I remember many field trips well from my own school years well. Most involved long bus trips to Seattle for trips to museums, the theater, or the aquarium. Standout days from each grade and they were always something to look forward to. Yet I am sure for my teachers they were a nightmare to plan and stressful to carry out.
This Monday was field trip day for my sixth and seventh graders. A lot of things were the similar to U.S. field trips I took as a kid. Students had to pay ahead of time (13,000, which meant a lot of students couldn’t come), then we loaded a bus and headed to the big city Cartagena. Two mothers of students came along to help supervise as well, though we certainly were not a five-to-one ratio and I am not sure an idea of name tags or permission forms ever crossed anyone’s minds.
The bus ride was probably the least favorite part of my past teachers’ own field trips. Mine was a similar hour and a half long humid bus full of eleven, twelve, and thirteen year-olds. We bumped along the muddy road, then waited for the ferry and sped along Cartagena’s traffic-clogged streets. My students have a continuing problem of being unable to talk in anything less than a shout – a cultural thing, but still annoying. Sometimes they would starting a song-like shout as loud as they could, deafening all those we past.
Our destination was IDER (Recreation and Sports District). For the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games, Cartagena built a series of stadiums which now hosts an athletic school. We first stopped in an arena which hosted tae kwon do, karate, wrestling and gymnastic leagues, then the softball and baseball stadiums, and the aquatic complex that housed an Olympic-sized pool and multiple diving platforms. Finally we peeked our heads in at Jaime Moron soccer stadium where I had been before for the U-20 World Cup match (more on sports and the world cup in my post from August here). Few of my students had probably been inside any stadium before or even seen a real pool like that so while not a famous museum, theater production or zoo, I think most students enjoyed it.
Jorge Tajan, our P.E. teacher headed up the trip and did a good job explaining about the stadiums and different sports. Telling the students they would have a test on the material, Tajan had the students scribbling notes all along and my co-teacher Pedro and I translated some of the sports to English .
Cash burning in their pockets, my students seemed to buy more snacks every time I turned around. While we waited for the ferry, they screamed out the window for bags of chips. Then in front of the first stadium they chowed down on deditos. We then provided them with cookies and juice. Twenty minutes later they mobbed a vender selling meat kebobs and a man making shaved ice. Back out of a stadium and more of the same snacks. Finally we had lunch, taking over a roasted chicken place where my students bought fried chicken and more soda as me and the other teachers tried to corral them to make sure no one ran across the street. Problematic since even after chicken, most students wanted to buy more snacks (really!?) and water (this I could understand). Santa Ana kids aren’t well-practiced in keeping track of traffic though, so finally I left them go in groups when I looked in all directions to make sure the road was all clear of motocycles, trucks, buses, taxis and horse carts.
We left a little after 8:00 and got back around 2:30. A decent day. Stressful for the teachers of course, but I almost guarantee that even the most bored-looking students will remember more from this day than their average day at school. So bring on the field trips, even if they are with 80 or so middle schoolers.