I recently embarked upon an excursion into the city with my year 7 students. Some of them had never previously ventured into the CBD and the increasing excitement in the lead-up to the big day was palpable.
“Any questions about your homework?”
“Miss, when we go to the city, can we wear free dress?”
“I was hoping to only have questions about your English homework at this point, Delta, and I have cleared this question up several times now. You will need to wear your uniform.”
“What if we wore our uniforms but got to wear whatever shoes we want?”
“No, full school uniform. Now, back to questions about homework please.”
“Can we not have any homework because we’re going to the city?”
When the big day arrived, I organised to meet my class at the train station at 8am. I thought that I should get there well ahead of time as this was their first time meeting at the station. When I arrived at 7:35am, there were 22 out of the 25 students already bouncing about at the nominated location, sipping Slurpees and sharing bags of chips and lollies.
“MISS ADAMS! MISS ADAMS!”
The entire platform of waiting passengers turned to stare.
“Krystal just texted to say she’s running late. She’ll be here in like five minutes.” I didn’t want to point out that this would effectively still make Krystal 20 minutes early.
“Where’s Mr Grace?”
“Yeah, he’s late!”
By the time Mr Grace turned up, three minutes later, our remaining three students were also in attendance. Travelling with 25 students on a peak hour train is always fraught with tension and, after delivering behaviour reminders on the platform, we managed to squeeze all of us in to one section of the front carriage. Several business people took one look at us and left the carriage for a quieter journey. The hour-long ride ended up being fairly tame, punctuated with screams and giggles when students viewed the face swaps they had created on their phones.
We made it into the art gallery and somehow managed to keep track of our high-energy, sugar-fuelled charges as we navigated our way around the classics and then into the more modern pieces.
There was much giggling and pointing at the various nudes dotted around the walls but the main question on everybody’s lips was “When are we having lunch?” For Mr Grace and me, the main question was, “Where can I get my third coffee for the day?” as our energy and tolerance levels were waning.
By the time we were safely ensconced back on the train, I allowed myself to relax a little as our tour of duty was almost complete. Unfortunately, I might have fallen asleep at this point, as did Mr Grace, and this enabled the kids to take a great face swap photo of us. I never did get that third coffee — maybe that would have kept me awake and out of the photo.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian