The Magic of a Field Trip

Many students look forward to their annual field trip all year long. A chance to escape the confines of the classroom and take learning opportunities on the road.

Field Trips are a break from the usual school day, offering the opportunity to see an attraction or museum and interact with classmates and teachers in a slightly more relaxed manner than the normal school environment.

They have many benefits from the vantage point of an educator as well, teachers are able to benefit from the resources and first-hand experiences that museum and galleries can provide, they can share in expert knowledge from curators and individual subject specialists and they can be used as an end of year reward for students who have worked hard and deserve a treat.

Even though field trips are an enjoyable and fun treat for students they also offer unparalleled learning opportunities, evident by the fact that private schools on average send their students on far more frequent off-site days out, sometimes amounting to a trip per month.

Day trips off campus are particularly beneficial to students that may have limited access to these types of learning opportunities due to economic reasons, such as students from low-income families.

Despite all the benefits of field trips, some teachers still find them a stressful proposition, having the responsibility of an entire class or group away from the safe confines of school and the normal procedures for backup if required, can be unnerving. There are also legal considerations if things do go wrong and an accident or incident occurs. However, by following a few safety tips and thinking proactively ahead, teachers can ensure that every field trip is as much fun for the teachers, as it is for the students:

  1. If it's feasible (due to distance and cost), arrange a pre-visit where you can tour the activity and site, perhaps with an accompanying educator and make a risk assessment of any hazards or concerns you may have. Note down fire exits, safety protocols and the names and details of those leading activities with your groups. Locate the washrooms, lunchrooms, locker rooms and check the visitor rules. You may also be able to get some materials and worksheets to share with your class before your arranged visit.
  2. Pre-arrange all permissions needed from parents and administration and make sure you have this information on you during the trip.
  3. Pre-plan alternative activities due to inclement weather, traffic problems or in the event that an onsite educator is sick or called away.
  4. Prepare your students ahead of time by reminding them of all the rules and expectations you have for their behavior and conduct.
  5. Carefully prepare adult chaperones and volunteers on their responsibilities during the trip and on any expectations or rules you expect them to abide by, i.e no smoking/ frequent group head counts etc.

In addition, you may want to bring with you this short checklist of things to keep you and your class ready for the many common situations and problems that can arise during a field trip:

  • Cellphone with school information and phone numbers stored.
  • Emergency worksheets or games in case problems arise, groups are split up or an incident occurs.
  • Full first aid kit with at least one member of staff trained in CPR.
  • Any student medications that may be needed, including EpiPens.
  • Detailed notes (and copies) of the names of all students.
  • Roll call chart to conduct head counts.
  • Camera for recording things you may want to remember, like where the bus is parked, for recording injuries or damage if unfortunate incidents occur or simply to showcase amazing learning opportunities to share with parents and administrators on your return.

Fiona Tapp, is a Freelance Writer, Educator, and Mom. An Expert in the field of Pedagogy, a teacher of 13 years and Master’s Degree holder in Education. Take a look at her website or blog to connect.

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