Most field trips in my experience as a teacher require plenty of upfront prep work. Permission slips sent and signed and returned. Money requested and collected. Classroom lessons to prepare the kids so they understand what the field trip is trying to make more clear or meaningful.
So, faced with my first exposure to Junior Achievement’s BizTown mid-week, I helped my kids prepare. For days prior to the visit, they applied for jobs, learned how to balance a checkbook, created television ads, and wrote radio jingles. They began to see, maybe, how the working world works.
Other teachers who had been to Biztown before told me that it was a fun field trip for the students. Meanwhile, I expected to be plenty tired at the end of the day.
We arrived and our students were led into a large, prefabricated town with business facades surrounding a town center. We saw a laboratory, bank, convenience store, movie theater, boutique, and a construction company, just to name a few. Throughout the day, the students trained in their jobs, and worked in their businesses. On 20-minute breaks, they deposited their paychecks, ate lunch, and shopped or watched a five-minute movie at the theater.
The key to the success of the day was how the BizTown educators took charge of the program. Before the day began, they thanked the teachers for doing the preparation, and informed us that parent volunteers would take it from there. We were free to travel about as we pleased!
One BizTown woman escorted the teachers to a private kitchen with freshly brewed Starbucks coffee and plenty of snacks. She pointed the way to a large conference room that overlooked the entire town, where we were free to work, visit our kids when we wanted, or observe the whole city at work from a wonderful vantage point. She explained how the Biztown doors were locked and alarmed so no child could wander off. Every teacher had a keycard to come and go as we pleased throughout the day.
I spent my day walking around, enjoying my students working and learning. I visited with my son as he learned and worked the projector at the movie theater, and ate lunch with him. But I also planned for the next week’s lessons, and took tons of pictures of the joy I saw on my kids’ faces. I was physically tired at the end of the day but I wasn’t mentally tired. I truly enjoyed the day.
As I told my husband later, what made this field trip so different was how the teachers were treated. I felt valued. I felt like the work I had done beforehand was deeply appreciated and respected. That’s an idea that’s not new to me in the least—it’s what Being Teacher is all about: ideas and solutions to make every teacher’s life more enjoyable.
But finding a place that pampers teachers felt amazing. There must be more places out there that pamper teachers, more field trip destinations, school districts, and businesses?
I know that teachers are important to our society, and should feel valued and honored for their work. So thank you, BizTown, making me feel valued. And teachers, I want to hear from you. If you have other experiences—specific places or trips or events where you’ve felt valued or pampered as a teacher, please let me know!