The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 01 2013

With Children in the Woods

Day 164: Thursday was our annual 6th grade field trip to Blue Hills, a hiking area and nature preserve south of Boston. Last year, I had to sit out due to car accident-induced concussion and whiplash, so I was excited to get to participate this time around. The weather was perfect – 85 degrees and sunny.

It didn’t hit me until we’d arrived that no one had any idea where to go. No one had brought maps. So, I took my group of eight boys and just walked on until we found a path that looked like it went up. It turns out we’d found the skyline trail, which went up and down hill after hill.

I was in heaven. So were most of the boys, who happened to be pretty athletic, save one who labored most of the morning; I ended up having to take his backpack myself. The descents were a little tricky, thanks to the rain of the previous two days, and one of the boys kept falling and telling me his mom would kill him for getting his pants dirty (why he had worn khakis to go hiking was a bigger mystery).

The best was the third and final summit. It was higher than the others, populated by only small bushes, and featured an incredible view of Boston.

Things did go a little downhill (pun intended) from there. We took an arbitrary right turn somewhere, ran into a group of girls from our school with two parents, and when we popped out onto the road, we knew we weren’t where we wanted to be. Using a map one of the parents had, we eventually made it back to the bus – 20 minutes late.

It turns out the park rangers had been looking for us. As I walked up to the bus, some kids yelled at me, “Did you forget to bring your topographic map?” “Did you get distracted by all the biotic factors?” If I’m going to be made fun of, at least I’m going to be made fun of with science. I also realized when another teacher looked at me with some revulsion that I had broken out in hives due to allergies, earning me a spot in a parent’s minivan on the way back to school so I could have some cool air.

The point of this story, I suppose, is that I’m really going to miss my kids. They are a pain in the butt sometimes, but they are also wonderful and funny and good company. As we were walking up to the bus, I turned to IC, whom I’ve been teaching for two years, and asked him if he’d like to hike with me again this summer, since I won’t see him anymore. Despite an hour or so of grumbling about wanting to be done, he looked down at his shoes and (uncharacteristically) shyly said yes. I hope we get to make that happen.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
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