Field Trip!

Last week I took my class to Boston to visit the Olde South Meeting House and Faneuil Hall.

The planning for the trip, of course, began in September, when I checked with my grade level colleagues about whether or not we wanted to go this year. We all agreed, then checked with the updated curriculum map to find out when we’d be learning about the Revolution. We picked a likely day in March.

After that, I emailed Olde South, asked to book the program, filled out the on-line paperwork, called the bus company and waited for the confirmation in the mail.

Flash forward about two months, to where I found out that the state testing for fifth grade had been scheduled for the date that we booked our trip.

Call the museum back, change the date. Change all the paperwork.  Call the bus company, sit back to wait.

A month before the trip, I filled out the school field trip forms.

Three weeks before the trip, I sent home the permission slips and the requests for chaperones.  The next day I started collecting all of the forms and collating them.  I collected the checks that the parents sent in and put them in an envelope, which I locked in my desk every afternoon.

Two weeks before the trip, I made 80 copies of the study packet and handed out class sets to both of my colleagues.

One week before the trip, I contacted the three parents who would chaperone, sent out “thanks anyway, I wish we had room for all of you” emails to the parents who couldn’t come, and submitted my chaperone list to the office to make sure that they all had up to date background checks.

I also gathered all of my permission slips and handed them all to the school nurse.

Next I created a spread sheet where I entered the name and check number for every check sent in as payment.  I stamped the back of every check, printed out the spread sheet and deposited it all in the mailbox of the PTSO Treasurer.

Three days before the trip, I taught the lesson about the big Towne Meeting that lead to the Boston Tea Party.  I sent out a reminder email to parents about the trip, telling them to send a bag lunch with the kids and to make sure that they all had on comfy shoes.  I called the bus company to confirm the trip.  I got the check from the PTSO and put it in my purse. I emailed the nurse to tell her that we would be leaving before school, and that I would need all of the student meds by 3 pm on the day before the trip.

Two days before the trip, I made out my student groups and reminded chaperones by email that they needed to be at school an hour earlier than our usual school start time. I sent an email to all of the parents of my students telling THEM to remember our early start!  I sent an email confirmation to the Meeting House.

The day before the trip, I got an email from one chaperone saying that he was feeling sick, and asking if he could send his ex-wife in his place.  Gulp. She wasn’t background checked, but what could I say?  I agreed.

At 4, after everyone had left for the day, I suddenly remembered the medications, and rushed down to the nurse’s office.  I gathered up 3 first aid kits,  8 inhalers, 3 epipens and 4 little envelopes with pills inside.  I delivered bags of medications and instructions to my two colleagues and put all of mine in a bag in my classroom.

The morning of the trip, I headed out the door with plenty of time, knowing that my long commute meant that I should take no chances of running late.  I hopped in my car, and saw, with horror, that my “flat tire” light was on!!!  I frantically texted my husband, who ran outside in his bathrobe, confirmed that I did, indeed, have a flat, and handed me his keys.

I got to school just barely on time, caught my breath and started to check the kids in.  The busses pulled up as planned at 8:15, and things were looking good.  Until my sick chaperone walked in, saying, “I still feel lousy, but I didn’t want to disappoint my daughter.” ( He coughed and hacked all the way into the city.  On the small enclosed bus.  Full of children.)

At 8:30 it was time to go, and I had all of my expected students except for one.  As I searched for her home phone number, she came to the door of the classroom, crying her eyes out.  I lined up all of her classmates and my chaperones, then brought the little girl into the hall. “What’s wrong, honey?”  She gasped and sniffled, but wouldn’t speak.  “Come on, tell me what’s the matter.”  We were on a VERY tight schedule, and I couldn’t spend much more time trying to pry it out of her.  Finally, she spoke.  “I felt sick this morning, and I had a stomach ache. I wanted to stay home, but my parents said that they had to go to work, so they made me come.”

Oh, I don’t think so!  I was not about to put a crying, sick ten year old on a bus to the city where I would be responsible not only for her, but for the rest of my class and half of another.  No, no, and no.  Down to the office we went, where I left her in the care of the secretary who would be calling her mother.

Finally, we made it onto the bus.  I took attendance, went over the safety rules and we set off on our trip.  And promptly drove into a huge traffic jam, making us late and setting the entire day’s schedule at risk. A quick call to the museum (have you ever tried to have a cell phone conversation on a school bus full of fifth graders at the height of rush hour? Yeah….)

A half hour before we arrived, I heard my name being called, and the ominous words, “Charlie doesn’t feel well.”  Yep.  Car sick child.   I sat her beside me and held her wrist on an accupressure point, and tried to talk to her to get her mind off it.  She didn’t throw up, but she didn’t feel better, either.

Finally, sweet Heaven, we arrived at Fanueil Hall.  The day went more or less as planned, with a few little exceptions. One was when the car sick-child had to go home and I had to send her off with a chaperone to meet her Dad.  One was when a police car came dashing to the curb right near us and out hopped the father of one of the kids.  After I had my heart attack, I remembered that he is a cop in the city.

We learned a lot of history, saw some cool old grave stones, ate lunch of Boston Common and played capture the flag on the green. I counted heads no less that 20 times. I gave out noon time meds.  I heard myself say things like, “Down off the fountain, boys!” and “Do NOT touch the sick squirrel!” and “No! You may not go talk to the homeless guy.”

At long last, it was 2 o’clock and the yellow busses came weaving through the city traffic. I got everyone safely back on, rearranged some seats, and settled back. After a few rousing songs, a few rounds of fifth grade “Truth or Dare” and several demonstrations of double jointedness, we were finally back at school.

As we got off, and I gave a huge sigh of relief that it was all at last behind me, one of the chaperones waived to me gaily, and said, “That was great!  You must really love these days off!”


2 responses to this post.

  1. School trips are the stuff of nightmares. I know how much the children love them and how important they are, so I do them. But they are incredibly stressful. Congrats for surviving your “day off”. Ha!


  2. I know, truly, it is amazing how much time they take!!!! And I am such a neurotic old lady that I get scared to death that someone will get hurt. But the kids do love them and the chance to really live history is too good to pass up! I just had to laugh at the comment from the Mom, who is a wonderful person and is always upbeat!
    May Heaven protect me from too many more “days off”!!!!


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