Students love field trips, but being in charge of one and going on one aren’t the same, are they? Take a look at a few strategies to make your field trips a success.
1. Contact the venue early.
Look ahead at what you’ll be teaching, then try to align your field trips with your topics. Keep in mind that some busy field-trip destinations require planning up to six months in advance.
2. Plan for lunches.
Include lunches for your chaperones, you, and your students—taking into account allergies or sensitivities like lactose intolerance. (Forgetting about those would not make for a fun experience.)
If your cafeteria will not be providing sack lunches, give parents reminders to send lunch or lunch money.
3. Build in a grace period with your permission-slip due date.
For example, your announced due date could be Wednesday even though you can accept them until Friday.
4. Divide students into groups.
To add peer accountability and simplify assigning chaperones, choose 5 or fewer students for each group.
5. Choose responsible parents as chaperones.
Did a few parents just come to mind? Reach out to them and see if they’re willing to help. (A good way to do this is to send home notes three or four weeks before the field trip.)
Avoid asking parents who are always running late, who forget to return permission slips, etc
6. Make lanyards for your chaperones.
In the plastic ID sleeve, include a list with the names of the students they’re responsible for, phone numbers of those students’ parents, your number, the other chaperones’ numbers, and your field-trip rules.
7. Consider ID tags or stickers.
If you have younger students, ID tags or stickers are a safety measure in case a child does get separated from the group. Include the phone number and the name of your school.
8. Dress alike.
Have everyone in your group, including chaperones, wear the same shirt (like school T-shirts if you have them) or the same style (bright green, tie dye, etc.). You’ll be able to find your students much more easily and vice versa.
9. Check on student medications.
If you have any students who take medication, see if it needs to be administered before you leave or taken with you. Make sure inhalers, etc., aren’t forgotten.
10. Pass out trip info.
Give your students and chaperones a schedule and a map.
11. Overdo head counts.
Count students before you leave your classroom, on the bus, when you leave the bus or get back on, when you get to your destination, and throughout the day.
12. Plan bus seating.
Put students with motion sickness near the front (and give them bags just in case), keep students who need the most attention near you, etc.
13. Review expectations.
Before field-trip day, explain expected behavior and consequences. Review these before you get off the bus.
14. Get there early.
Plan to arrive half an hour before your tour starts. Instead of rushing around, your group will have time for a bathroom break, reminders, and questions.
15. Make it count.
Ask questions about the trip on the way back. Have students write about what they learned. Create a field-trip worksheet with questions about what they saw and how it relates to what they’ve studied.
And here’s one more thing—try to have fun yourself! Even though you’re keeping track of your students and your schedule, you can still enjoy the experience and bring some new memories back to class with you.