Sunday, December 20, 2009

Field Trip

Today I went on a field trip with the language arts teachers to the Seattle Art Museum. They needed an extra chaperone and I was curious to see how large public school field trips are pulled off. I was assigned a group of about 6 students. It was a little confusing because I was given a list of students but then one chaperone wasn’t able to make it and I was assigned a few extra students. The whole day I wasn’t sure if I actually had everyone. I wasn’t used to that level of confusion and chaos on a field trip. I am used to compulsively counting my 30 something students on SGS field trips, but there seemed to be fewer controls on this field trip. In fact, I think some students may have wandered around outside at one point. At the end of the trip, role was taken and everyone miraculously showed up. Once we actually split up into small groups I was a little less stressed out because I had an easier time keeping track of my group. The docent led us to a series of exhibits and through a series of activities. They were decent activities—they were inspired by the art and came from the students’ interests and prior knowledge. For example, we saw a coffin that was shaped like a BMW and we talked about how in this place in Africa (can’t remember where; also the students were studying Africa in their LA/Social Studies block) people were buried in coffins that represented their life and/or their aspirations. We had a discussion about this and then the kids sketched what they would want their coffin to look like. Some questions that plagued me the entire time were: What was the purpose of these assignments? Where was the accountability? And how can students who have never had an opportunity to visit an art museum be given free time to explore on their own? Throughout the trip I also struggled somewhat with discipline and motivation with the students. Students were very reluctant to do some of the activities, and since I didn’t know them or what their class was about I was uncertain about how to keep them motivated. I often resorted to asking students about their experience with/feelings about art and trying to bring them in someway based on their responses. In terms of discipline, the students were basically fine, but I had one to two students who would sit or stand very far from the group while our docent would speak to us. This one particular student said he could hear and was paying attention. I responded that his actions could come across as lack of motivation or disrespect and that it’s good to check whether our behavior is coming off the wrong way, but he wasn’t motivated by that. Overall, it was a good experience to see how one can pull of a field trip with a large number of students.

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