Two weeks ago I had the chance to chaperone a Spanish excursion (aka field trip) in Madrid. My fourth year students were going to a political talk in the city and I was asked to attend with one of the history teachers. I’ll admit I was a little nervous about what the excursion would entail–I was picturing students abandoning the group for something more interesting or losing someone on the metro. Instead, it ended up being an extremely relaxed day and the field trip was executed ‘Spanish style.’
What do I mean by Spanish style you might ask…well let these few anecdotes speak for themselves:
We leave the school after rounding up what we perceive to be the whole group. As we begin the 10-15 minute walk to the metro, two students ask if they may hop into a nearby shop for a snack and catch up with us along the way. To my surprise my fellow chaperone said yes, so long as they rejoined the group as quickly as possible. Even more surprising was the fact that minutes later the two students came toddling up behind us with bags of chips in hand, having truly gone to buy a snack rather than ditching the field trip!
Once on the metro the students spread out willy nilly among the train cars. My American teacher side was thinking ‘no, no, let’s stick together…everyone on one car please…’ However, I am in Spain, not America. Groups of students sat on one another’s laps or huddled near the poles throughout the length of the train and when we were nearing our stop myself and the other chaperone simply informed our students that it was time to get off. That easy.
After exiting the metro, it came to my attention that we had no idea where we were going. Well, we had an address, but no map, no directions, no clue! My fellow chaperone proceeds to ask a loitering taxi driver who steers us in the general direction. As we continue walking, we continue asking those around us for directions to the destination street. After some wandering, crossing streets, and back-tracking steps we found the field trip location. Who needs to plan ahead?!
Shockingly we arrived early. I assumed we’d wait outside for 15-20 minutes and then enter for the talk at the appointed hour. However, I am in Spain and 15 minutes is plenty for a coffee! My chaperone informs the students that she and I are going to grab a coffee nearby during the down time and that we will meet up with them later. She set a time and meeting point and off we trotted to the nearest ‘Cafe y Te’ where we ordered a drink, savored it over some lovely conversation, and then rejoined our students. Only in Spain!
At the conclusion of the field trip, it was my understanding that we would accompany the students back to the school. Not so. Many students wanted to stay in the city, meet up with friends, or go home with a parent who worked nearby. Although no permission slips had been signed, phone calls were made and after my fellow chaperone spoke with parents one-by-one and students were given permission to disband, our group diminished. In the end, I (only I!) returned to the school. Who knew I’d be chaperoning…myself…