January 22, 2010


Remember our last field trip? While I enjoyed getting to know my students at that times, I really didn't like the field trip or it's chaos very much.
This time around, we (the 8th grade team) got a little smarter and planned the entire day ourselves. The planning didn't actually take too long because teachers are pretty good at delegation. For our efforts in planning, we were richly rewarded yesterday with a fabulous "convivencia" with our students. Convivencia is the Spanish word for field trip...although yesterday wasn't much of a field trip since we didn't leave school...
Let me explain. So in February we are taking our students on a three day field trip to San Vicente, about 5-6 hours from Cali. In preparation for that trip and the three non-stop days of fun with 100 hormonal 8th graders, we decided to do some team building work now in January. We organized a convivencia yesterday with four different activities or rotations all aimed at helping the students make a "Commitment to Excellence", our theme for the day. The activities each focused on a different type of excellence: academic, personal, social and environmental.
My activity focused on social excellence, or excellence as a member of a community, team or group. For this activity, a colleague and I brought the students to the ropes course we have at school. Many of the students didn't remember the course existed, and had never used it before. We asked them to complete a series of tasks as part of a small group of 4 to 5. One specific task included the high wall. As I lead students to this activity I told them about how I completed this activity many years at summer camp, so I was confident they too could do it. I am happy to say that every single student went over the high wall yesterday. While some were nervous or scared to try it, they all persevered and found trust in their classmates to get the job done.
I LOVED getting to see different sides of them outside the general classroom and it reminded me of what awesome little people they are turning into. New people came up with creative ideas, new people emerged as leaders, and students who have trouble remaining positive in class suddenly turned into cheerleaders for their teammates. Sure, there were students who chose not to contribute positively to the experience, as some will always choose to do, but for the most part they were a seriously impressive group.
The day finished with a reflection time where we reviewed the four areas of excellence and then asked students to write a personal action plan for this semester. We are keeping these plans for the students to open in San Vicente, as part of another goal-setting activity, so they can check in with their plans. The end of the day was hard for students to focus, but overall I think they did a nice job of working towards a commitment to excellence.
LOVE the teamwork & happiness here!
Up and over!
Scott leading a small reflection at the end of our rotation.
Other tasks in the ropes course.
Annnnnd one group of kids definitely made Scott & I go over the high wall. They found this endlessly hilarious. :)

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