Yesterday was a special day. My babies from my second homeroom as a teacher celebrated the end of their eighth grade career by attending a ‘My Kind of Town’ field trip. I don’t know how my middle school team does this every year. I mean, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching these talented, charismatic, and wonderful humans for three years, and I have to hope I’ve prepared them enough for the shark tank! I don’t want to let them go yet. My team has been in the game far longer than I have so I can’t imagine how exciting it is for them to know that they helped nurture young professionals in college or on the career front.
I’m feeling emotional because of graduation season so I apologize in advance for the rambling or from losing focus in my post.
Essentially ‘My Kind of Town’ field trip means that my students jumped on a coach bus from our far southeast side neighborhood and journeyed to the mecca of our city to see another side of our town, to experience our city like a tourist. We had a packed agenda from taking selfies at the park to viewing the city 100+ stories high to attending an architecture cruise on the lake front. There were a couple added bonuses to our final outing together which included being trapped on the expressway due to a special world leader being in our neck of the woods and taking a photo with an NFL athlete.
babies eighth graders never cease to amaze me. On the bus ride, a couple students were researching on their cell phones to find out which products on the McDonald’s menu were made of GMOs. We have been writing argumentative essays about whether or not there should be laws to regulate use of GMOs and these kiddos were extending the knowledge on the bus without being prompted by the teacher. Listening to their conversation made my heart melt because three years ago I probably would not have heard an academic conversation on a field trip let alone talking about genetically modified organisms.
Secondly, my students amaze me because of their confidence, strong sense of self, and interpersonal communication skills. I mentioned earlier that my students took a picture with an NFL athlete, but I just have to share the background story because it is hilarious and you will definitely see the above character traits in my students. My students were ecstatic that we were going to the Hard Rock for lunch. None of my students had been there before and they felt so grown up sitting a regular tables with their peers while being waited on by such cool, student friendly waiters. After students placed their order, a tall, muscular, and attractive man with an athletic build was seated with his family at a table near by. Almost immediately after being seated, one of my students darted over to my table to exclaim, “Ms. G, did you see him? Did you see him? Matt Forte, that’s Matt Forte!”
In my head, I thought, “He’s the football guy, right?” As much as I love my city’s athletic teams, my preference is baseball. My co-worker immediately knew who my student was referring to and I may have had to pull out my phone to confirm that the buff man was in fact the ball player. My student proceeded to beg and plead with teachers to allow him to go up and ask for an autograph. Our human selves were just as starstruck as our students, but our teacher self responded with, “As much as we want to let you get an autograph, Forte is a human and a human on a lunch date with his family. We need to respect him by admiring him from a far. We can not let you or any of our students interrupt his lunch.”
This kid is a master of argumentative writing and replied with, “Ms. G, he is an NFL athlete. He is used to people flashing cameras and asking for autographs.”
I firmly responded with, “Not today. It is the off season and he is with his family.”
Our lunch felt like an eternity. The buzz of Matt Forte sitting across from our table made its way to all of my students. My little argumentative writer kept bouncing back and forth from his table to my table with the funniest comments including:
“He’s a Bear. We have never seen a Bear in the flesh.”
“Don’t do this to me. I have to go up to him and take a selfie.”
“This is killing me. You just don’t understand what this is like for a fan.” (I know exactly what it is like…I was senior in high school when the Sox won the World Series. I left school earlier to attend the ticker tape parade…and I ran into Ozzie last month and almost passed out when he said, “Hurry, let’s take a picture!” after I was brave enough to approach him!)
“It is like you hate us or something.”
“That’s it, I’m going over there. I’m just kidding. I’m too nervous.”
“Quit looking at him like that, Mrs. McKinney. I’m gonna call Mr. McKinney.”
“The Binions are gonna be so jealous that they missed this.”
The waiter came over to our table to give our kids a compliment. He was impressed that no one went over to Forte’s table because he clearly noticed that my students were aware that a Bear was in the house. As much as my colleagues and I appreciated the compliment, we couldn’t promise that our students would hold out for much longer. They had been antsy for 45+ minutes and we were getting ready to head out for the last leg of our trip. We sent some our children to the restroom before getting back on the bus and who would have thought a couple girls were bold enough to ask Mrs. Forte to ask her husband to take a picture with them? Somewhere in between, Mrs. Forte had to school the gals about relationship titles because someone addressed her ‘the girlfriend’ instead of ‘the wife.’ Regardless of how it when down, the girls did it! My girls strolled out of the bathroom with Mrs. Forte and baby Forte and walked straight up to the table. A hand full of students ran up after the girls, which freaked out the Hard Rock staff. My team and I managed to seat our students and the rest is history.
On Forte’s way out, he stopped in front of our table for 5-10 seconds (which felt like a lifetime) and students were frozen in awe of their hero, our city’s hero. He smiled and asked, “Do you want to take a picture?”
I’m the young teacher and my students are fully aware that I blog, tweet, and Instagram (BTW, they can’t access my personal accounts) so my students and even my colleagues asked if I would tweet him later. I didn’t want to use my personal Twitter, haven’t been able to remember my classroom Twitter account password since my first tweet, so I did what any other social networking teacher would do- I posted a picture and tagged @mforte22 in my photo on my Diaryofa(n)[inserthere]teacher Instagram account.
Wait til my student hear about this!
This was the best trip ever, but not only because Matt Forte was kind enough to make some of my students’ wildest dreams come true, but also because my team and I have some of the best students ever.
Happy Graduation Season,