#SOLC17: Jedi teacher makes “the groups”

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!



17 thoughts on “#SOLC17: Jedi teacher makes “the groups”

  1. I had a field trip today and spent most of last night making groups. In the end, there were minimal complaints (that I heard) so I count that as a win. Hopefully your groups work out just as well. Safe travels.

  2. I don’t envy you this task. When we had to divide kids into groups for a field trip we sat as a team and decided who should not be with whom and which teacher would take which student. Usually all went well. Enjoy your trip.

  3. It’s clear you listened to their needs and their wants which is pretty much what we can do for this wonderful age on the brink of teen angst but still little in their hearts! I hope the trip is a great learning experience and memorable good fun for all.

  4. This sounds like a great trip! My partner and I will be making cabin groups for our outdoor ed trip in a few weeks. We go through the same kind of thing — when will it help to have friends together, when do kids need to be separated, which teacher gets which kids, etc. etc.

  5. There are a few things I don’t miss about having my own class, and this is one of them! I love that your Jedi spirit was with you as you worked on this crucial task! Have fun in Philadelphia!

  6. So… I could comment about making groups or taking a field trip, but I won’t. I’m going to comment about your writing, your storytelling… it was so well crafted. You had me with you all the way. And a cup of coffee was perfect in the ending. I noticed your bookends–Philadelphia in the first and the last sentence. Bravo!

  7. I couldn’t wait to get to the next word as I read your slice. You are a wonderful storyteller.

    And I loved the response to the groups! You have super powers!

  8. Love hearing that ending. You must have done something right! I’ve been there through the years, and had to create room and/or tent groups too. It isn’t easy. But the lure of the trips helps get past who’s with whom, sometimes.

Thank you for reading my blog! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s