Monday, June 22, 2009

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothin' Left to Lose

For all you teachers who have never done something like this, take heed: It is not a good idea to plan a field trip for your middle school students AFTER they have had their graduation ceremony AND their senior trip.

Allow me to elaborate. For months now, threats of being removed from graduation and/or the senior trip have been sufficient to discourage egregiously bad behavior among my little friends. There have been, this year, only two fistfights (both of which involved the same problematic little friend) and no real major classroom disruptions. I attribute this to a combination of a more tranquil and cohesive group of students and my much-improved classroom management. I can count on one hand (okay, maybe two) the number of times I've had to raise my voice this year. I've been able to deal with incidents of whining, sassing, etc. with phone calls and e-mails to parents. I wrote up exactly one kid for detention (the stapler-throwing incident I wrote about here a while back). No removals. No suspensions. And if my own winning manner with the darlings wasn't enough, well, nobody wanted to be left out of graduation or off the trip.

Well. Both are now over. Both were smashing successes with all our little dears on their best behavior. And now the tougher cases in the eighth grade have realized that, as the title of this blog indicates, they have nothing left to lose.

Which brings me to my point: IT IS A BAD IDEA TO TAKE YOUR FRIENDS ON FIELD TRIPS AFTER THIS POINT. I had the pleasure (?) of escorting mine on a trip under just such circumstances. And any threat I could lay out to discourage bad behavior was like a wet noodle. It was a somewhat trying field trip.

It did not help that the individual who planned this trip--which, it is worth noting, was neither myself nor my grade partners, all of whom WOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER--did not apparently take into consideration that this trip was being planned for "seniors" with nothing left to lose. Or that there might be bad weather. Or that, when dealing with middle schoolers, it is always better to order too much food than not enough.

I am planning a longer and more comprehensive post on field trips in the future, but I had to blog about this now before I completely exploded.