This past Thursday I was able to take my 8th grade class to the Guthrie Theater to see A Christmas Carol. This is the 9th year that I have had the privilege of taking students to this play.
I have to be honest, I do not relish bus rides with younger students - they do not nap or value sleep quite like their older counterparts. They also tend to hold on to a bit of their elementary selves - running and talking a little louder than necessary when exploring new environments. The excitement for novel situations is not lost on these kids. =)
But as I settled in for the show with the kids, there was silence. Silence from even the most active student in my room. I looked around during the performance and was reminded how seeing something created live before your very eyes, how storytelling at it's very best, can transport even the most hard to please child into a new world.
Every student was mesmerized. There were no phone screens shining in the darkness or loud whispers from behind. The students were momentarily transported into Dickens' world of poverty and hope, of selfishness and family - the book they had been forced to read in class had come alive and was suddenly real.
These are the moments that remind me of my classroom why. Teachers were sharing with me the next day how the students were "raving about the play" or "loved the experience". I grew up in a small town. We didn't do field trips. I didn't have the experience of going to museums or plays (other than the local playhouse in my town). I get how difficult it is for families in rural communities to get away to the "big city" to check out cultural experiences. This is why I love to see the reaction of students when they step out of their usual routine, put down their phones, and take in a new experience.
So I give a hearty thank you to the parents and caretakers of the community that support field trips like this. We may not be in the classroom, but the looks on your students' faces when they ask questions, share they experience, and talk about what they saw is more than enough proof for me that they learned something.