I love teaching my sociology class because it is such a fun and interactive class to be apart of! I have a very supportive school district that allows me to be creative and inventive in the classroom. My class gets to participate in a bunch of interactive projects and trips. Here are some of my favorite field trips and activities.
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Every month my class partners with a 4th-grade elementary school classroom. It really helps we are a k-12 campus so the kids can easily collaborate. We take turns traveling to high school or elementary school for our monthly collaborations. Some months we are sharing projects or reading books. Others we do a holiday theme activity such as Valentine’s day we did Valentine’s for Veterans or St. Patricks Day party.
The collaboration has been such a wonderful partnership and both of the classes really look forward to each experience. I always hear “yes it’s buddy day” from my high school seniors! It is a wonderful way to spread compassion, empathy, and kindness within our school community.
During our gender unit, we study the full spectrum of problems related to gender. One issue we learn about is domestic violence and the #metoo movement. We get to go to a local women’s shelter called the Walter Hoving Home. The home has helped thousands of women reclaim their lives from drug and alcohol abuse. We get to tour the facility and hear powerful stories of survival and second chances at a new life. The experience opens my student’s eyes to problems in our society and they get to hear first hand from women who are rebuilding their lives.
Teacher for a Day
Being a teacher for a day is one of my favorite days of the school year! During our education unit, each one of my students pick a teacher who they would like to shadow for a day. They help the teachers in the classroom by grading assignments, making photocopies, co-teaching a lesson, and see a behind the scene perspective of being a teacher.
The day after the teacher shadow is the BEST day where they reflect on the positive aspects of teaching and what makes teaching so challenging. The experience always reinforces how hard teaching is and they walk away with a new apprehension for their teachers.
Here are some of their reflections on being a teacher for the day:
“I enjoyed seeing how much my teacher cares about his job and loves what he does” ” I felt like the experience helped me to understand the experience of my peers (special education kids) because it’s very different than mine” -“Mrs. Gesson made learning fun” -“it was really fun” -“I got to shadow my favorite teacher” -” I definitely want to go into stats in the future” -“Middle schoolers behave way different than high schoolers.” -“I enjoyed seeing the positive experience of seeing student-teacher relationships.” -“I honestly enjoyed everything about the job. This reaffirmed my desire to be a teacher in the future.” “It is hard to adjust to each student’s individual needs.” -“I think the hardest part of teaching is getting kids to work, who don’t want to” -” she really dedicates herself to helping students.” -“I have no idea how teachers keep their cool dealing with middle school kids.”
During our crime and deviance unit, we go to Greenhaven Correctional Facility and participate in the Youth Assistance Program. Students get to see and experience what life is like in a maximum-security prison. We start the day with a discussion of what the prisoners did to get into the prison as well as share stories and pictures of what daily life is like in the prison. The group meeting was particularly effective and VERY well-run. The students even felt comfortable opening up about their own mistakes with the law and drug use. This was very impressive that the kids felt comfortable sharing their own experiences in a safe setting.
Then we get a tour of the facility including seeing the towers, mess halls, visitation room, and yard. We eat prison food and lunch with the prisoners and then do a wrap up of the day. The kids liked sitting with individual men and asking them questions during lunch. They said lunch with a small group was their favorite part of the day!
I can honestly say it has been one of the best experiences of my student’s lives. Kids learned about the criminal justice system first hand, which truly enriched my class. The stories were so personal and impactful. Each story connected and resonated with the kids in some way. I know they took away that one small mistake can completely alter your life. The experience taught them empathy and really not take the things they have in life for granted. Most of them commented that the experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives. As a teacher, this experience can’t get any better than that!
Trading Schools Experience
Another amazing experience we get to participate in during my education unit is the trading schools for a day. My school is in a beautiful suburb one hour outside New York City. They get to trade schools for two days with a school in the Bronx. Students get to tour each other’s school, attend classes, and compare and contrast differences between the two school environments. They come away with a deeper understanding of schools and make new friends that they never would have met!
What have you done with your class as a field trip or activity?
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