I’ve had the pleasure of working as a social media manager, a substitute teacher, a camp counselor, and a museum educator. Over the past year, I’ve picked up on some things that museum educators hate. I’ve shared these things with teacher friends who either laugh or completely understand. This post is for all of my fellow museum educators and those who just want to know what it’s like.
We send you the pre-trip visit activities for a reason. There is nothing worse than getting a group of kids who don’t even know the basics of what we’re going to be talking about in the museum. I know that the school day is long and hard enough already but please, don’t leave it up to the museum staff to teach your kids everything on a subject. We are a supplement.
Chaperones on Their Phones
THIS IS NOT A DAY OFF.
Okay, with that said. This is honestly one of the things that bothers me the most. We tell the students they need to keep quiet and not be on their devices yet the chaperones in many cases will be on them for almost the entire trip. Sometimes quietly, sometimes not. Side note, turn your ringer off. Oh, and pay attention to the kids you are supposed to be watching!
Speaking of the adults being bad examples… Please, chaperones and teachers, if you’re going to have a conversation over your museum educator, at least leave the room. Or, better yet, wait until lunch. Whenever the adults are bad examples like this, it leads to the students’ behavior ultimately deteriorating.
Teachers Not Stepping In to Correct Bad Behavior
Annnnndddddd speaking of bad behavior…. When your kids are interrupting over and over and over and over and OVER again, please intervene. If they are breaking rules, standing on furniture, being loud, being rude, etc., do something about it. You have things you can take away from them. The museum educator does not. We are an authority with no power.
Being Asked the Same Question Five Times or More in a Row
This is only okay if there were multiple groups. When you are doing whole group Q&A time and you get the same question five times in a row, that’s when educators get the eye twitch. Yes, they’re real. Now listen.
Slime (and Other Trendy Toys)
Leave them at school. Just don’t even bring them into the building.
Story time! So I work in a historic state house where we have ~150 year old desks that we allow school groups to sit in. One day, students brought slime upstairs and sealed or partially sealed some of the desks closed with the slime. We still have some desks, even after cleaning, that can’t open or are stained. Unless you want a bill for repairs, just leave that sticky mess at school. Or better yet, at home.
If you’ve ever been around elementary aged school kids you know about storytellers. They’re the kids who raise their hand to answer a question but then tell you a whole unrelated story that may or may not eventually end up at the answer that you were looking for. In museums, we get these kids a lot. You don’t want to be rude and cut them off but at the same time you only have so much time to get through a whole program that is probably behind schedule to begin with. At least the kid wants to talk and tell you about other museums they’ve been too and stuff… I guess.
Speaking of being behind schedule to begin with, there is nothing worse than when a teacher starts rushing you in a program. We know how much time we have and we know that you need to be on the bus and then back at school by a certain time. Please do not be rude and start rushing your museum educator. We will get you on the bus on time. Hell, we’ll even make sure your kids can use the bathroom first too. Do. Not. Rush. Us.
When the Teacher Steals Our Explanations
A lot of schools do the same trips over and over again, year to year. That means that some teachers have done the program you’re teaching dozens of time and know some of the things you are going to say. Which is fine. Please, keep coming back! The problem is when they cut you off or jump ahead with an explanation that you were eventually going to get to. *sigh*
We know that you can’t help it. Traffic is a thing. Weather is a thing. Being late in unavoidable in a lot of cases. When you’re late though, you can make life a little easier for the educators at the museum for when you arrive. One, call ahead and let the museum know you are running late. It helps us adjust the timing and makes it so we don’t have to stand outside in bad weather longer than we need to. Also, see “being rushed.” Don’t rush us because you were late. We’re adjusting, just let us do our jobs.
If you work as a museum educator, do you agree with any of these items? What are your experiences working with students and teachers? Share in the comments.