Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Field Trips Can Really Kill You!

       Hi everyone! Today all of the fifth graders at Tree Elementary got to go on a field trip to the science museum. This included five of the eight kids in my class... Starling, Rosella, Triller, Kite, and Towhee. Mrs. Eagle and I went along with them, as did one of the aides. 
       The plan was for the more high functioning kids (Towhee and Rosella, basically) to join in with the regular education fifth graders, with the aide accompanying them. (At Tree Elementary, wherever the special ed kids go, a special ed aide has to go with them. The regular ed teachers aren't hot on taking responsibility for the special ed kids, even when they're socially high functioning and independent, like Towhee and Kite are!) Meanwhile, Mrs. Eagle and I would take the other three kids separately. We were also going to take Heron, a fifth grader from one of the other special ed classes. He was the only fifth grader in his class, so it was easier to just include him with us than send a whole extra staff member with him!
       Our little group was supposed to be Mrs. Eagle, me, Rosella, Starling, Triller, and Heron. Sounds like a good plan, right?
        We had lunch immediately when we got to the museum, even though it was only 10:45. Lunch went smoothly enough. After lunch, we herded our four kids over to the bathrooms. This took a while, but went well enough. Then we headed up the stairs, in pursuit of the first exhibit. 
         Halfway up the stairs, Starling flipped out! She started screaming, covering her ears, and sat down on the floor. The science museum we were at is very large, and a lot of the exhibits include noisy machines, and it just really overwhelmed her. I went the rest of the way up the stairs to wait with the other three, while Mrs. Eagle tried to coax Starling out. It was to no avail. Starling just crawled underneath the stairs and refused to come out. So Mrs. Eagle told me to go ahead with the other three.
        Now I was all alone, except for three kids... two of whom I already know can be very stubborn and unpredictable, and one of whom I had only known for an hour! (I know three kids doesn't sound like much, but keep in mind that these three function on the level of preschoolers, complete with tantrums, running off, bathroom accidents, etc!)
        First we went to the storm exhibit. The kids enjoyed this a lot. As for me, I spent the whole time with my head on a swivel, counting them! I managed to keep them all in my sight. Then Heron announced that he had to go to the bathroom! 
       I told the kids we'd head over to the bathroom, but Rosella and Triller didn't want to budge from the electricity ball they were playing with. Meanwhile, Heron was hopping around and moaning! I ended up just grabbing Rosella and Triller by the wrists, telling Heron to follow me, and marching them all through two other exhibits and over to the bathrooms.
       We usually use the family bathrooms, so we don't have to send the boys into the public restroom on their own. So Heron went into the family bathroom, while the rest of us waited. That's when Rosella decided to undo the rope on a roped off flight of stairs, and run up! She sat down on one of the steps and wouldn't budge. Rosella likes to test, and she seemed to know there wasn't really much I could do right then. Finally, I ordered Triller to stay right were he was, went up the stairs, scooped up Rosella and sort of carried her down the stairs. Once down, I let Rosella know that she could still lose minutes of free time (their incentive for good behavior) even at the museum. She protested, "No minutes!" I told her, "Then keep yourself safe. That means, stay with me. If you don't keep yourself safe, I'll have to take minutes!" 
         Heron finally came out of the bathroom, where he must have been doing a "number two" since he was in there so long! The transportation room was right across the hall, and Heron really wanted to go in, so there we went. 
         The train room actually captured their attention for quite a long time! There were two giant model train displays, and Heron and Triller just stood there staring at them, entranced. Rosella enjoyed clambering around on the trolley car and train engine. They stayed in there for at least forty-five minutes! 
          By then, it was almost time to meet our group downstairs. So I suggested we go find one more exhibit to see before we left. We started to walk out of the transportation room. Suddenly Triller screamed and laid down on the ground, covering his ears, saying, "I'm scared!" He wouldn't tell me what he was afraid of. I asked him to point at what he was afraid of, and he pointed in the direction we had just come from, so that didn't make much sense. Rosella and Heron had laid down on the ground in an act of solidarity with Triller, people were staring at us, and I was starting to get exhausted! Finally I just scooped up Triller and carried him to "safety" a few feet away.
        We did manage to see one more exhibit, before it was time to go meet the rest of our group. I had to threaten both Triller and Rosella with minutes to get them to leave. Apparently they were having the time of their life!
         We found our way back across the museum and to the group meeting room, where we thankfully met up with Mrs. Eagle and Starling. They had spent the entire time in the egg and chick exhibit, the only room Starling would agree to go in. Mrs. Eagle said, "I was at the museum, but I was never really in the museum!" I assured her that I hadn't gotten to see much of the museum either. 
          I spent the bus ride home sitting next to a very talkative Starling (who is very entertaining, I must say... I love that kid...) and when we got back to school, all the kid got free time because Mrs. Eagle, the aide and I were too exhausted to do anything else. In fact, I am very exhausted as we speak... I'll probably fall asleep in a few minute!
         So, I learned something today. Even though I think my kid are delightful at school, when you try to take them out in the world they can be a real nightmare! 
        Thanks for reading, everyone. I'll write more soon. 



  1. I'm glad you made it through the museum without anything more serious happening! Big museums can be so overwhelming to kids with sensory or other issues, and three kids to one adult in that situation would be a challenge. Glad the kids had fun!

    1. Yes, this museum was especially big and noisy! I'm sure that was at least part of the problem for Triller and Starling. Rosella was just being a stinker. ;)

  2. I have no doubt that you are exhausted! Besides assigning aids and determining which students were going with who, did the school have a plan for the students? They had to have known that the possibility of one child running away or having difficulties would leave the teacher in the position of either leaving the remaining students, letting the one child run away or having to drag the other students along when they were behaving appropriately. Its a difficult situation for sure. I had one child while I was working as a Child Development Worker that always refused to leave the park when we were up town so I was instructed to carry her to the car for her own safety (she was 4). Whenever we did this, however, she would repeatedly yell, "I don't know you, don't take me." You can imagine that looks I got while doing this, I was always so nervous that people would think I was kidnapping a child! Luckily this didn't happen when you were at the museum!

    1. No, the school didn't have any plan. The entire fifth grade was going, and most of the groups consisted of up to 10 kids per one adult. I think they just expected the fifth graders to be on good behavior, and didn't really think about some of the kid who might not have as much control over their impulses and sensory issues. The kid screaming "Don't take me" at the park sounds like a nightmare! Good thing you didn't get stopped!

  3. Field trips are always a challenge. I remember one where a student had a seizure in the main hall, neither I nor the class were particularly bothered, we knew the rules, he had seen seizures before, but you can't imagine how many people told me to do everything I knew was wrong- "stick a spoon in his mouth," Hold his head rigid" I wanted to scream- mind your own business, but there were all my students standing around. Then there was a time a similarly named school took our long reserved lunchroom tables and ate our school lunches too! I ended up buying 10 pretzels and eating them on the steps of the museum. (I'm talking about the museum that the movie "Night in the Museum" is filmed in.)

    I like trips to shows where you sit down and watch. And leave all together when its over.
    Get some rest- you deserve it.

    1. Wow, good thing those passerbyers weren't in charge of anyone with epilepsy! The advice they were giving you i really outdated! I think if you saw someone calmly sitting with a person having a seizure, you should assume that they've been through it before and that they have it under control. As for field trips... in theory, I love them, but then when we go on them I always change my mind!


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