Raindrops Falling On My Head

Jose Vilson 10 Comments

Brooklyn Bridge RainOn Friday, a fellow teacher and I took 2 of my classes on a trip to the Central Park Zoo, and I have to tell you that it was good and honest fun. We trekked from one side of the park to the other to get to it, but when we got there, it was well worth it. Penguins, polar bears, and exotic birds were only some of the sites we witnessed. Of course, the kids loved the sea lion show before lunch. Simple things like that really inspire kids.

Some of you are thinking “This early? Don’t you save those for later on in the year?” Yet, I have a problem with that thinking, because honestly, I don’t see why we don’t take these kids out more. It’s scary that some people, administrators included, would prefer to keep their kids caged because they’re just “uncontrollable,” not offering them an opportunity to learn experientially. Imagine if our students actually left their neighborhoods before the age of 14. If it isn’t Dominican Republic, a lot of my students have never actually seen anything outside of the Heights.

Interestingly enough, it was after it started raining that it became a memorable trip. We ran a huge risk by having the kids out in the rain like that, and we quickly had the kids back on the subway, but on the same token, kids love getting messy. A couple of them were trying to continue playing football and Frisbee after the rain came down hard. I laughed on the inside, but stopped it immediately.

I was happy that we also got a chance to bond in that fashion. With all the concentration of getting the kids to produce high scores on their tests, and meet test standards, it’s good to develop them personally and help them reach life standards. It gave me a chance to think about our roles as models and molders for the future.

Imagine if we could concentrate our efforts on letting them be children while simultaneously planting seeds for their futures. With all these garbage after-school programs and 37.5 minutes added to our programs, you’d think we’d use that extra time more effectively to build that rapport with them. We can say whatever we want, but we’re so influential in their growth as people.

It definitely won’t be the last, but my next one will be even doper. I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, off I go to work on Penny Harvest. Peace.

jose, who’ll probably get a break from the madness on Wednesday …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 10

  1. Alisha

    I agree that kids need to be exposed. The more exposed they are – the more they learn about possibilities and opportunities. This is my first time visiting your blog – I like it. BTW – I am an exception to the administrator rule :)

  2. Harmony

    I agree. I’m not a teacher, but it sounds to me like they are pressuring them to perform and produce rather than grow and learn through educational and fun experiences. Field trips should be a mandatory learning experience that sprinkled throughout the year — and not just once a year at the end of the year. Anywhoo, glad you and the kids had a good time.

  3. pissedoffteacher

    I used to teach in a school on 67th and 1st. Most of our kids were from Harlem and had never been further south in the city than that. I now teach in Queens and I have kids who have never been on the subway. You did your kids a great service. The things they learned on this trip will stay with them far longer than the math you teach them every day.

  4. Hugh O'Donnell aka Repairman

    My wife teaches students (at our alternative high school) how to navigate our mass transit system here in suburban Oregon, among other life skills (includes buses, trains, and rail trolleys). You wouldn’t believe how anxiety about getting around can kill a kid’s ambition to get out there and get a job or interviews that they want while they’re going to school. Do your students know the ropes on the trains? Curious…

    Also, and I’m not recommending this, but quite by accident, I have always lived within the attendance district of the school I taught at. I never minded it, and seeing kids out in the “real world” always positively influenced our relationships in school (once they realized that I didn’t live in my classroom closet). Of course, my son, when he hit the eighth grade, wanted no part of being in one of my classes! :)

    BTW, I love the Brooklyn Bridge, and that’s a cool photo. Needless to say, it’s now in my archives too!

  5. BK Teaching Fellow

    yea man, i love what you said about “help[ing] students reach life standards”. Yessurrrr! thats what i’m talking about.. at some point, it becomes way bigger and larger than testing and evaluations and assessments. we are people, first…

    respect to you..

  6. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ Alisha: I hope you understood it wasn’t all administrators, just some. Some of them pretend to encourage it, but then put you through all this red tape when you try to make one.

    @ Harm: ::scratches post:: Mandatory indeed!

    @ POT: How can one even conceive that? Queens is a place that, if you don’t take the train, you’re really not going ANYWHERE. It’s sad how even adults don’t ride it.

    @ Jonathan: I definitely saw that on Friday. Good, messy fun.

    @ Hugh: I definitely don’t see myself taking my kids home, but that’s because they live all the way on the other side of the island. And yeah, I love the Brooklyn Bridge. I need to walk it soon.

    @ BKTF: We are people first, not number crunchers, like some people want us to believe.

  7. angelamichelle

    wait till the end of the year for a field trip? and what’s used to motivate/real life teach the children during the school year?

    bravo to you mr. v for not only taking the children, but allowing yourself to be “human”, not just teacher, and enjoy the trip yourself.

  8. LuzMaria

    As I read your post, I thought about those “trips” I remember fondly as a child and/or young adult. It seems that there used to be more time to enjoy being a child and running around while today our educational system thrives on the data standardized test scores provide. Is this “data” really reliable? How does one “capture” the humanistic component of teacher on an excel spreadsheet? While reading your post, I kept visualizing your little ones running around, their laughter and sweaty faces contributing to the beautiful Central Park landscape. Since that “Kodak” moment cannot be mapped out as a bar graph or pie chart, it is easily dismissed. It is a teachable moment for both stakeholders, students and teachers to interact with one another without the constraints of the rigid educational tone mandated by the powers to be.

Leave a Reply