My favorite part of my job is when I get to spend some time with my sunshines outside of our classroom. Change is not something they handle well, but when they let themselves trust us enough to take the risk, it goes well. This trip was no different. A few of the kids had never been on a boat, and those that had hadn't been on one in the ocean. This was definitely going to be worth it.
We headed out on the two hour bus ride, having established with the district school health coordinator that no, there is no air conditioning on school buses. How kids can ride in the very back seat of the bus I will never understand, but they divided nicely: HS in the back, MS in the middle, and us old teachers in the front.
Once we got on the boat, they were a little freaked out by the number of strangers also heading out to see some floating mammals. Most everyone found a seat upstairs, while the kids went under deck. As we started moving, they headed to the front of the boat-- a small space which limited the number of strangers around them but kept them in the fresh air to reduce nausea. All was well.
For the first time in my existence, we saw whales. I didn't get great pics, and I'll upload them to this later, but it was quite impressive. Weather Boy and Weather Lad are beyond jealous, which means I'll be heading back at some point soon, I'm sure :) The sunshines were really excited about seeing the whales-- and when they smile for real, it confirms why I love this job. To see these wise-beyond-their-years teenagers giggling and running for the edge of the boat to see a whale swim by-- yea, it's quite a moment.
Two kids got sick-- one was so green the whites of his eyes looked funny-- but we made it back to shore with no other incidents. We let them walk around for a bit, looking at the shops and getting their land legs back before heading back on the bus. We were back in town by 6, as promised. They were tired, sunburned (I didn't exactly say I told you so, but those words did leave my lips), but refreshed after spending a day on the ocean with friends.
Many people ask how I can work with these kids all day. I don't know why it makes sense to me, but it does. I enjoy helping kids transition between hating school and every authority figure in their lives and into kids who recognize they have different strengths and learning styles than the average kid. I am teaching more than math and science. I guess at heart I'm teaching them to make peace with the cards life has dealt them, and to keep working to make the best hand they can with what they've been dealt. It's not always easy, and sometimes I only start a process that they have to finish on their own after they've left, but if I leave them knowing there's someone out here who always wants to know how it's going, someone who isn't afraid to be seen with them in public, then I've done my job. They make me happy, they make me proud, and I love working with them every day, even on the days I don't love it. The cool part is if I read that last sentence to them, many of them would understand what I was saying, but all of them would believe me.