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Sunday, November 8, 2009


I'm thinking of the 22 years I've spent as a teacher.

I bumped into a Facebook group of alumni from a dear, previous school I worked at. Spent my 30's and part of my 40's there. Well enough into my career to know what I was doing and what I wanted to make of it. Single, until I was not. Childless until I was not. I idealist until I was a little less (never quite lose the idealism of wanting each school year to be the best for my students).

On the Facebook page, the memories posted were of the big events. The field trips, the songs, the art projects, specific teachers.

It got me thinking of the overnight field trips: the BIG ones. We used to take our 5th graders to Mazatlan and El Recodo (yes, it was a public school, but a special one at that). I have so many fond memories of that trip. Spent so much time organizing and instituionalizing the trip. I was one of two teachers who organized the activites, particularly, the academic end. What did our students need to know, how would we teach it, and what would they do when in Mazatlán. It was a great, creative and exhausting time.

8 of the 9 years I went on the trip. By the last year, I no longer wanted to go. I had a young boy at home. The trip had changed. It was too predictable. Then it was moved to Cuernavaca and I couldn't relate to the need to go anymore, but was needed. I did not enjoy that trip. I don't enjoy being in the 'back seat' of anything. I love to collaborate. On that trip, I was merely a chaperone.

Fast forward to my new school. Our 8th graders go to a great place in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. I've gone each of the 4 years. The second year, I even took over the organization of the trip. I have taken my son each of the years I've gone, except the first one. Since he is a rambunctious and bilingual kid, he loved the trip probably much more than the 8th graders did. These years will form a special time for me and him that I hope to conserve.

This year, I have made a decision that I don't want to go on the trip. I've told the Heads of school as well as the lead Spanish teacher (a friend of mine) that I would prefer not to go, in fact, that I don't want to go. It will be funny not to be on that end of the trip for once, but I think I have lost some steam and enthusiasm with traveling abroad with students, at least this year.

The question I grapple with is whether this is a sign of resignation and loss of enthusiasm. I still love teaching and I love doing things that truly do impact students' formation. While I like to think that the activities I do in class have an impact, what kids really, really remember are the trips, the songs, the silly games. I don't sing and I'm not known for silly games, but I do travel with kids to distant and interesting places. Am I giving up on that or is this just a temporary thing?


SrtaOwens said...

It's just a temporary thing. Sounds like you need a break from the predictable travels. Students do remember big activities, but they also remember the smallest details. You share enthusiasm in the classroom and give opportunities to let every student shine. Those relationships will last just as long as memories from a trip.

ERKO said...

Wow, what a nice comment. It made my evening! I know down deep that what I need is a break, a time to focus on being here with my son. I'll keep up the enthusiasm part down here at home and support the trip the best I can from afar. Thanks!