Monthly Archives: November 2010

Field Trips & Vomit

I just finished packing for a long awaited trip to Orlando for my first ever English teachers conference. Check this out:

It’s being held at Disney resorts. We’re staying at the Wide World of Sports. I’m riding Space Mountain five times. The weather is twenty degrees warmer than Brooklyn.

All signs point to good.

Also, for all you nostalgic ex-middle school readers, THE Gary Paulsen, author of The Hatchet will be in attendance at the conference.

What I really wanted to take a few seconds to write about was the recent trip that I went on yesterday (and field trips in general).

Yesterday, I was a chaperone (a word that the students find hilarious), for a ninth grade trip up to the Bronx for a College Fair. We’re trying to get our oldest grade more aware of what it takes to get into college, and every year there are a bunch of opportunities offered by the city for free.

Since I don’t have a “normal” teacher schedule and I’m usually not in front of three or more full classes a day, I’m more available to be a trip chaperone than most other teachers. That being said, this has been my third trip this year – and I’ve been on a trip with each of the grades so far. While I can definitely say that the maturity and level of ridiculous behavior of the students from 6th to 9th grade varies drastically, one thing has been universal – vomit.

Being a city school we use the subway for any trip that is close, and buses for trips far away . The trips this year have been to upstate New York and the North Bronx – both around an hour trips factoring in BQE traffic and completely sad and lost bus drivers. So out of the three trips that I’ve gone on, there has been some major pukage on each. Thankfully, I was the designated driver on the first few trips in my bumper-car Camry, but yesterday I got to experience the magic first hand.

I’ll start off by saying I’ve never seen a bunch of human beings so excited to watch one of their friends puke. Actually, now that I think about it, there was a gallon milk challenge the winter of freshman year at college but that another story. Anyways, an interesting part of this particular incident was that the girl who started to throw up all over the back of the bus said that it wasn’t because of motion sickness at all. She kept saying that it was some exhaust smell from the window that was just causing her to continuously vom.

For the beginning stages of the drive the bus was filled with your standard (albeit loud) student conversations about anime, horror stories, and pregnancy. Other noise pollution contributions were of obnoxious renditions of Justin Beiber and Trey Songz. Suddenly, us teacher chaperones in the front of the bus are alerted to “a situation” by an uproar of laughter and general excitement in the back of the bus.

As you would expect, many of the girls were turning their heads and covering their noses and mouths. What was crazy was that the puking girl and her seven or eight friends were having a grand old time –  laughing and jumping up and down. I’ve never in my life seen a person so joyfully throw up her lunch and breakfast. The happy face of this girl after she came up for air was priceless.

On the way back from the college fair the same girl was at it again. She caught a whiff of whatever evil smell was in the highway air and just started back at it, this time filling up a see-through yellow bag that we had taken from the college fair. The weirdest thing was that she refused to move to the front of the bus to get some fresh air. Her friends literally didn’t move their seats and continued to sit right next to the girl, either helping her or just having fun with what was going on. While it was kind of gross and disturbing, it was nice to see they cared about each other.

Also – Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’m sure there have been a million funny or inappropriate things that students have said in the past few weeks. The fact that I haven’t been able to post is really because the days in November have really started to blend together in my head and I feel like Thanksgiving is coming at a good time. I’ll try to write some more notes and get in another blog before then. Until then, stay strong.


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Into November

I was first going to post about what happened at the end of last week when a 9th grade student got in my face and turned into a gigantic ball of nasty. She didn’t actually turn into a ball, but she was aggressively yelling at me in front of her entire math class because I told her she was being rude.

All I can say is that it doesn’t feel great when a 14-year-old tells you to “Shut the F**k Up!” It’s also not worth it to go head-to-head with a hormonal teen who is having a bad day. The situation is ongoing, and my conversation with her mother was just as frustrating. Another tangent this post could go on is how unreasonable some of our students’ parents are. Sometimes you start to feel bad for your misbehaving and rude students because their mothers (or occasionally their fathers) are even more out of control than their kids. I guess that’s a topic for another time.

What I really wanted to note right now was how teachers live in a constant realm of possible contamination.

Two of my roommates are flat-out sick. The other one has had a little cough on-an-off for a few weeks. Many of my co-workers are constantly fighting flu-like symptoms and whopping coughs during their classes and meetings. Most ridiculous – Ms. N was just out for a day because of a case of pink eye. Sure – the cause of these illnesses might be the changing weather. It could be global warming. But a more likely factor causing sickness is literally right under our teaching noses. They are the very beings we spend all day with. 

I have to say – I was insanely lucky last year and only missed one day of school. This year I already came down with a nasty case of Strep Throat in September that kept me out of school for almost 3 days. You know that when you’re getting Strep Throat multiple times in one year, you have to be contracting it from some student who comes into school and hasn’t showered in days. God – Strep Throat and Pink Eye are such a little kid illnesses…

Physically, our janitorial staff does an excellent job. The floors are clean, the desks are fairly shiny, and the hallways look presentable (shout-out to Lou, Joe, and the other janitors). But it’s the actual living, breathing, stomping, and shouting middle school students who are feeding grounds of dirtiness and grime. Some of these classes (and especially the ones with the younger kids) feel like cesspools filled with salivaed-on pencils and sneezed-on erasers.

I’ll admit that all of my roommates, who work with younger kids at elementary schools, have it worse. Those little devils are the grossest of the gross for sure. But middle school is the age where they are learning about using soap and shampoo in the shower. Half of them are just mastering the complicated process of properly applying deodorant. The other half hasn’t heard about it yet. I’d be seriously  impressed if Cal Ripken Jr. or Brett Farve could last only a few school seasons without taking a day off because some sniffling kid coughed on them.

So to end, hopefully I can stay healthy and the weather can just stay the same temperature for a few weeks at a time. Good luck to the rommies fight their colds. I’ll be downing Emergen-Cs in the meantime.

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