Everyone loves a trip! Be it for a day or a week, everyone gets some form of stimulation, from leaving the classroom and putting what we know into practice or developing our understanding further through first hand experiences. For those that haven’t planned a trip before, yes there is a lot of work for us as teachers, be it local or far, but it is worth it. There is no better feeling as a teacher than knowing you have given students the opportunity to do something they may not have been able to do if the trip had not gone ahead.
Students will be given many opportunities throughout a trip to build relationships with other students that they may not necessarily know, this is particularly true if you go somewhere with another school, or students who don’t ever have the same lessons, or different year groups. It’s great to see how the dynamics and friendships of the group grow and change over the course of the trip. It also allows students to get to know the staff too, and vice versa! Outside the classroom allows for far more opportunities to get to know students that you might not have in your classes. Not only that, it allows for students to experience new smells, new surroundings, develop some adrenaline for exploring somewhere new and take in some fresh air (which some don’t have enough of nowadays due to social media or game consoles).
Going away on a trip without parents, carers, siblings or family members is exciting for students regardless of their age. It allows students to develop their independence, organisation, time keeping, teamwork and social skills. It is a time where students work hard to overcome their own barriers and grow from children into young people. It is becoming more common now that schools have a residential or skills week at the end of the academic year encompassing a variety of activities that students can participate in: theme parks, camping, canoeing, project based learning, city breaks. All of these opportunities have potential for memories to be made. Memoirs that can be looked back on when students talk reflect on their school life year-on-year.
Ultimately, the aim of any trip is to allow students with an educational opportunity that will assist them at some point in the future, be that exam answers or life skills, for example. Those that learn kinesthetically or visually may find the trip far more valuable than learning inside the classroom. Yes, some may argue that you can show students photos, YouTube clips, use applications and even virtual reality nowadays but as good as technology is, nothing is as good as the real life experience of visiting the place for yourself and seeing it with your own eyes. It allows students to develop a more in-depth understanding. If there is an organised tour with a specialist of the area then students can get more in depth answers and knowledge of the surroundings. This is also beneficial for the fact that it is not the teacher who they are used to informing them, but someone else. This can occasionally increase engagement, attention and interest in the subject or area.
Those of you thinking to organise a trip further afield will additionally enable students to experience new cultures, different traditions, exotic cuisine and unique architecture. All of these aspects developing each student as a whole, impacting their individual well-being and educational experiences no end.
As teachers and educational professionals, we get a lot of comments from our non-teacher friends ´9-3 job´ or ´on holiday again´, we all know that we put in the hours and do our best for the students we teach. We’re not afraid of hard work. So hopefully some of the tips about planning a trip are not off-putting. If anything, it should encourage you when you know how much the students get from it! A well-organised trip is always very well received by students and is far less stressful than you might think.
So what kind of work is involved?
1. Writing Risk Assessments
Make sure you have thought about all possible scenarios and that there is a plan in place should different circumstances occur. I know a lot of teachers who would rather avoid the trip experience on the basis of the significant amount of responsibility that taking a group of students away entails, but if everyone is well informed, this stress is minimised!
2. Gathering Medical and student details
It’s really important to have more than one print out of student lists, contact details and medical information. As much as we rely on technology these days, you don’t want to be caught short with no battery when the wellbeing of students whilst under your supervision is paramount.
3. Planning an Itinerary of the day/s
It’s a fun part! Let students know what’s happening! Keep them informed, tell them what they will be getting up to! It will increase enthusiasm, and you can tie it into your lessons prior to going away. This way it can also encourage students to want to go on the trip, as well as identifying to parents/carers the skills and opportunities that they will experience.
4. Arranging Staff assistance
If you are a solo member in your department this shouldn’t put you off organising a trip! Team up with another department or another nearby school! Art & Languages trip to Paris or History & German trip to Berlin. More often than not, staff will be happy to accompany you on the trip so don’t be afraid to ask. Meet with staff prior to departing and, delegate roles or small jobs to take the pressure off you. Don´t overload yourself – they are there to help you!
5. Organising Travel arrangements
Whether there be buses, trains, taxis, planes, walking routes involved, all should be planned out in advance, with all aspects considered, the ´what if´ situations too! Make sure you buy tickets in advance – this keeps costs down and avoids any language problems.
6. Identifying how the learning objectives will be met
As much as all students love trips for the fact they ´get out of class´, they want there to be a purpose to the trip. They know and expect that while they are away they are going to learn something. How can you ensure that they learn what they have gone there for? Have you assisted student’s learning in some way? As much as you can, allow as many opportunities to make the trip meaningful and memorable!
7. Keeping the cost down to make it accessible to as many as possible
One of the hardest tasks is keeping costs down. You need to think about how many students will potentially go, and use this ´buying power´ to your advantage. Good deals are out there for those hagglers amongst us. There are many companies nowadays that do everything for you. Alternatively you can do it yourself, but ensure you are confident in speaking the local language and have visited the place before. It will be a lot different when you have the responsibility of a number of excited students.
Students will be forever grateful to you for giving them the lifetime experience, the unforgettable memories and the educational opportunity so if you haven’t organised an educational visit in your current school, why not give it a shot?
Jade Lewis-Jones (@JLJBusinessed) is a Business Teacher in Valencia and is the UKEd ambassador for @UKEd_Intl