The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of a writing community.
We are getting ready for our annual field trip to Philadelphia: all the reservations have been made, field trip T-shirts have been ordered, and chaperones have been cajoled into joining us for a day of visiting historic Philly in the company of rambunctious sixth graders. There is only one thing left to do, the hardest thing to do…
…make the “field trip groups”…
This is middle school. Making groups, like seating charts, is a serious business. It can be make or break. It can be “totally the best thing” or “oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die- on-this-trip-I-hate-my-life”.
And, it’s all on me, the group maker – the decider of best thing vs. I-hate-my-life.
I sit at the kitchen island with day-glo colored sticky notes covered with desperately phrased messages:
“It would be great if I could be with A., and C., but NOT okay to be with B. and D.”
“L. and M. and also N. and O. It’s okay not for N. and M. but definitely L. and O.”
“I’m okay with anyone. But NOT K., Q., R., S., and T. And also U. and V. But, I’m okay with anyone.”
“I don’t want to be in any group. I’m good on my own.”
It’s getting late. Pretty soon it won’t make any sense to go to bed at all because it will be time to get up and face the music anyway – to make the big reveal to 42 sixth graders anxious to know who is with who. I summon my inner jedi teacher spirit – the one who can see into the future (well, as far as that day in Philadelphia at any rate) and know what will work best. I call upon my seven months of daily observation, what I know about each child, what I’ve seen, heard, and surmised. Then, I make my final moves. The sticky notes coalesce into six groups. I take out six pieces of construction paper and a rainbowed assortment of markers, and transform each stack of sticky notes into the “Philadelphia Groups!!!”.
A short while later, the first bell rings and I hear my kiddos coming up the stairs and making their way to our classroom. “Do you think she’s done them yet?” asks one, “I dunno, let’s go check it out.” They enter the room in twos and threes and make a beeline for the board…silence…and then they erupt in shouts and squeals:
“Oh my god, you’re in my group!”
“This is going to be the best group!”
“You’re in my group, you’re in my group!”
“This is going to be the best trip ever!”
I sip the last of one cup of coffee already feeling the need for another. Philadelphia, here we come!