Reader Tales From the City
I started a long teaching career at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, more than a little awed by the fact it was bigger than my hometown. At that time, the federal government made money available for field trips and, upon discovering none of my 9th or 10th graders had ever been on a field trip or even traveled much in the city, I set about planning to take them to what I considered its most beautiful place, the Cloisters.
I made a recon visit, gathering info with which to pepper my lessons over the next couple of months, devising a treasure hunt of objects that would give them a good overall sense of the place. I was confident my students were very well prepared to appreciate and learn from what they saw.
I showed my students the legal contract I had to sign, testifying to my responsibility for any harm they did on the premises.
Following our visit, during which my students were exceptionally well behaved, I asked them to write thank-you notes to our chaperones.
Janie’s letter to a chaperone made me forever humble about a teacher’s ability to anticipate students’ needs, to figure out what they need to know:
“Dear Ms. Craig, Thank you for going with us to the Cloisters. I’m sorry so many things were broken.”
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