Those Times That Field Trip Slips Save The Day

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Those Times That Field Trip Slips Save The Day

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Field Trip Snacks Square

Those Times That Field Trip Slips Save The Day

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Caron Phillips
Colorado Teacher


Field trip permission slips take so long to trickle into the classroom. Sometimes it takes even longer to actually make their way to the teacher when said slips get temporarily trapped in backpacks or crumpled in desks. Then the day before the field trip has teachers scrambling to ensure all the slips are accounted for or alternate plans have been made for students who are not attending the trip.

Or at least that’s me.

I let every excuse in the book fly. My brother keeps using the permission slips you give me for paper mache.I try to accommodate every need.  ______ needs to buy the largest stuffed animal you can find for his baby sister.I do my best to make sure every student can attend every field trip. Miss, I know it’s the fourth time, but I need another copy of the field trip form.I even add phone numbers to the slips where parents have forgotten to include that bit of information.

And yet, you can never plan for everything, right?

The day of the big, end-of-the-year trip for the fifth graders began like any other field trip morning. We were taking the train to a baseball game and doing a decent amount of walking in the sun. I made sure to only wear clothing with pockets, and added sunscreen and an extra first aid kit to my backpack.

Once at school, I quadruple-checked the number of permission slips before packing them too. I also checked to see if everyone had listened and worn comfortable shoes and some sort of skin protection.

Nope. That would just be silly.

Family members were called to drop off tennis shoes and hats while I attended to the students who were unable to reach anyone who could help on such short notice.

Spending money was accounted for (Miss, I know my mom gave me $20!),lunches were packed in backpacks (Miss, do you have room for three pomegranates in your backpack?), water bottles were filled (…thank goodness I had extra in the classroom), and we were on our way.

Since we were walking a good mile with 75 fifth graders, the teachers and chaperones did our best to corral the students. The students’ deliberately slow speed (as pre-teens are apt to do) made crossing the streets as a group impossible, so we split into two groups for the first part of our journey.

Keeping my group together was akin to herding cats. I cheered every acceleration and tried to motivate and incentivize the entire way to the station. I even made up some songs, singing them at high volume in my angelic voice. We brought up the rear and showed no signs of amping up the lackadaisical pace.

When we arrived at the train station, the students who had gone ahead were just getting ready to board the next train. We squashed our classes together in a few cars, trying our best not to disturb the other passengers, some clearly regretting their decision to take this particular train.

The ride to the baseball stadium was thankfully a short one and we hustled the students off the train after just two stops. We could see the stadium from the station and this time our students were excited to walk the couple of blocks to watch the game and spend all their money on overpriced junk food.

Since this was a free game for fifth graders citywide, the line to get in was a bit long. But the appeal of meeting new peers and thoughts of freedom once inside kept our group’s attention until it was our turn to enter the stadium.

We broke down the rules, boiling down to: an adult needs to go with you if you are leaving your seat, stay together in a group, show integrity, and please, please, please don’t do anything that would hurt yourself or others.


I had a Google Voice number that allowed students and parents to contact me without giving out my real phone number. Many of the students had their phones with them, so I made sure that at least one student and adult in a group had a phone and way to contact myself or another chaperone.

Plus, I had a good amount of students who consistently reported the others who weren’t making the best choices. Miss, ______ is trying to fight a kid from another school. There was no question I earned my steps as I raced around the stadium to the empty sections where students gathered to puff up their chests and ruffle the feathers of their peers from other schools. They ignored the calls of the chaperones until they believed their voices had been heard. Then I shepherded the groups back to their seats while ignoring the empty threats thrown over adolescent shoulders.

Baseball games are long and fifth graders’ attention spans are not. By the third inning, most of the students had decided that hunting down the perfect basket of nachos was much preferred to waiting for the action on the field to happen. As they wandered off with their groups of friends, chaperones followed behind at a reasonably distant pace, enough for the students to maintain their cool factor.

Even so, it was predictably difficult to round up everyone.

When my group of students got to our meeting place, there were only two other groups waiting, meaning we were still missing five. I started texting and calling the others, who eventually made their way over to the east exit.

I was anxious to get going because we were on a timeline. The parents who had come on the trip were allowed to take their students after signing out with me, while everyone else was riding on a bus back to school where they would be taken home. I didn’t want to make the families wait even longer for our already late arrival, nor did I want to lose any brownie points with the district’s bus drivers. They were kind enough to provide transportation back to school so we didn’t have to make the trek twice in one day.

The students without phones patiently waited their turn for other students’ and teachers’ phones to become available.

Upon arriving at our designated bus stop and seeing an empty space, I called and was told that another bus was thankfully on its way.

But that bus never came.

I called again and was told the bus drivers had already headed home for the day and there was no bus coming. They say they would make phone calls to the drivers to find someone to get us.

But there was no guarantee that it would be anytime soon.

Our kids were exhausted. There was no way they could walk back to school, and the fast-approaching evening darkness had us leery of making the trip on foot.

I had the students start calling their families to let them know that they would be late(r) and they had the option of being picked up downtown instead of waiting for the bus to arrive.

The students without phones patiently waited their turn for other students’ and teachers’ phones to become available.

After handing my phone to the nearest student, he looked at the screen for a while before admitting to me that he did not have anyone’s number memorized. I looked around and saw that same realization cloud the other waiting faces.

I was in the same boat. I didn’t know the numbers of my students’ families by heart either.

Trying to internalize my panic, I quickly tried to think of what to do. With the school office closed, there was no one in the building I could reach who could help me access the student database.

After chaotically emptying my backpack on the sidewalk, the folder holding the field trip slips caught my eye.

Of course. There was my golden ticket! Those small slips held magical ten-digit codes that would connect my sweet students with the friend or family member waiting to pick them up.

A bus eventually came. We quickly boarded, the cooling temperatures and lure of getting back to families made everyone anxious to make the short trip back to school.

Once I had connected each student with their ride home, I wearily walked to my own car. Looking through my backpack for my keys, I again saw the permission slips, wrinkled and well-loved by now. I reminded myself to thank the educator who had taught me to write down everyone’s number. My gratitude for that bit of wisdom (and the bus driver who saved the day) was apparent in the smile on my tired face as I walked through the doors the following morning.

The fact that it was a Friday didn’t hurt either. 


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