The end of the school year is prime time for field trips. Assessments are over and so is most, if not all, of the curriculum; you and your students are ready to get out of the classroom for some enrichment. However, newer teachers can be intimidated by the prospect of leading the students off school grounds, and veterans may have suffered a bad experience. Here are some ways to make sure everyone has a fantastic time—even you!
Talk to someone who has been there before
Whether your school is in a major metro or a rural area, there are probably only so many good field trip options nearby. Chances are one or more of your colleagues has already led a trip to your target location, so take advantage of their experience. Connect with other teachers at your school who have visited the site in the past to learn the ins and outs (or warn you away).
If you are the first from your school, you still probably aren’t the first class. When you call to book, ask for some tips from the site staff to make your planning and organization go smoothly. The personnel at the site will have seen both successful and trying field trips before.
Visit the site beforehand
Heading out on a field trip sight-unseen is not recommended. You can learn a lot about a site and how to plan for your trip from a quick stop before or after school or on the weekend. You don’t need to take in the full field trip experience, just give yourself a brief preview to get an idea of some potential pitfalls or things you may want to cover in class before you go.
Educate your chaperones
Parents who volunteer to chaperone field trips tend to do so throughout their child’s school career, so it’s likely they have some idea of what they’re getting into. But they may not have chaperoned a trip with you. Of course, be appreciative, but also be firm about your expectations. Divvy up the on-site jobs that may be necessary and clearly assign duties. It’s also a good idea to briefly reconvene all of your chaperones at the end of the trip to find out what went well and what can be improved.
Structure your students’ experience
On a trip, students need to be kept busy, preferably with hands-on activities that will keep their minds engaged. Time that students are left to their own devices is time when it’s more likely for something to go wrong. Make sure you have a well thought out schedule for the day, and try to keep unstructured time, like lunch or a chance to explore the gift shop, to the minimum.
We know the final stretch of the school year can be the hardest to get through. Hang in there, teachers, and check out these four tips to avoid end-of-the-year negativity!