Think back to your best memories of elementary and middle school. The most cherished memories (or for some, the only memories) probably don’t contain sitting at desks, practicing equations, or finishing worksheets. Instead, I’ll bet you remember all the things in between the mundane. Time in the lunch room, presenting an art project, or best of all, field trips are probably better remembered.
Out of everything that happened in 12 years, I remember field trips best from my time in school. Whether it was taking the short ride to Ganondagan yearly where my best friend’s parents showed us through the long house, or the considerably longer ride to Genessee Valley Museum where we dressed as pioneers and churned butter or played ring toss games, field trips always held the most prevailing memories.
While I’ve experienced field trips as a student and as a ‘tour guide’, hosting students who spent time at camps away from their school, I’ve never participated as a teacher running the trip…until last week. We (myself, Madeleine, and Robin) took our STARS team to Verona Street Animal Shelter. While there’s a TON I could say about how wonderful this organization is and how much good they’re doing to keep animals (and their humans!) in the Rochester community happy and healthy, I’d instead like to focus on how beneficial the trip was for our STARS kids.
As a teacher, the trip was stressful. We corralled 10 kids on the RTS buses, walked through the city, and worked to sustain attention and energy through all the distractions an animal shelter provides (OMG a yorkie!!). There were a few tears, complaints about sandwiches, lots of ‘when will we get to play with the puppies?’, but so many more smiles.
The STARS came away from our visit being able to better articulate both the big question we aimed to address as well as the action that matters in our community that they would take. They came away with a true understanding that not only do animals need food, water, and shelter to be happy and healthy, but they also need socialization with animals and other humans and time inside and out. Without visiting the shelter, making carefully crafted observations, and talking with experts in the field, we would have only been skimming the surface of understanding.
More importantly though for our STARS team, we came away from that day as a team. After visiting the shelter, we ran around the park across the street, kids had a big group hug, and we saved Mr. Prickles one more time. The trip brought our STARS closer together through the formation of more real connections created by a shared experience.
While planning and executing field trips is difficult for teachers, they are ideal for developing deeper understanding, and they’re arguably better for developing deeper relationships and lifelong memories. That’s something I won’t soon forget and will most definitely practice as a full-fledged teacher.