Thursday, February 18, 2010

Field Trips: Important for Teachers, Too

When we have recesses from school like our present one, I like to send myself on field trips. New York City has field trip destinations like almost no other city in this country and indeed the world, and there's no excuse for not taking a day to see something new and interesting. You can get inspiration for actual field trips with your students, too.

I've had field trips on the brain because I'm taking one with my students pretty soon, and I'm slightly afraid that I'm out of field trip practice. It's been a tough year for field trips at the Morton School--almost every teacher is afraid to take the middle schoolers anywhere because of one hellacious class (not one of mine)--and my kids have developed a severe case of cabin fever. When I announced our impending field trip, which was more than a small hassle to put together, the heartfelt cheering from my kids made it all worth it.

But that's slightly off track. The point is: FIELD TRIPS for YOU. Pick someplace interesting, one of those places you just never get around to seeing. In a city with museums devoted to firefighting, Tibetan art, finance, and even sex (!), you'll find something. Most museums provide cheap entertainment for a few hours, for one thing--many have "suggested donations" (read: you can pay less than the sticker price), educator/grad student discounts, and free or Pay What You Wish days/nights. So don't let finances discourage you! Go off the beaten track and enjoy something.

I've commented, mostly at the Core Knowledge blog but in other places too, about the importance of teachers continuing to cultivate the passions that drew them to teaching and develop new interests in and knowledge about art, culture, literature, history, politics, etc. etc. If we're not culturally literate and engaged, we can't model it for our students. Drag yourself out of bed semi-early for one day that remains of your glorious winter recess, or reserve a day in your spring recess, and send yourself on a field trip. You won't regret it.
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