Class trips are truly a rewarding way to engage students in real-world learning. Usually, an opportunity to venture out of the school building gets students, as well as many teachers, super
excited! What is often less appealing to teachers is the stress of monitoring the safety and well-being of their pupils---no matter their age--- out in the real world. Consequently, the tips
shared below, are meant to help make trip-taking an enjoyable, and cooperative, experience for all--- in the name of safety!
Discuss safety issues beforehand! Even the youngest children have opinions about how to be safe in the world. Therefore, I would recommend talking to students of any age
group about how they think their class can behave wisely on their upcoming excursion. This can be a time of great discussion since young people tend to pay attention to events in the world
around them. I have listened to students passionately recount the major events in their communities as well as in the local news. I’ve found them to be especially sensitive to crime
and to family matters. Kids tend to have definite, deep-rooted thoughts on issues involving right, versus wrong!
Even though you may have a good list of rules in place for students to abide by, exploring the importance behind the rules allows your youngsters to be meaningfully vested in carrying those
rules out. And I’ve always found that where there’s meaningfulness for young people, then strong cooperation follows!
Being prepared for the unexpected! Recently, a school bus driver had a heart attack while driving, causing a student to spring into action and stop the bus. How could this
young lady have ever expected to have to act in such dire circumstances---she’s a minor! However, because of her state of preparedness, other lives were saved. The outcome could’ve
been disastrous for those on the bus, as well as for those persons nearby! Likewise, students need to be prepared to act in the event of the unexpected. What happens if the teacher takes
ill and there are no other adults on the trip---what might the plan of action be? Suppose there’s a crime-in-progress taking place in the vicinity of the group---what’s the accountability
plan to one another? Do we have an agreed upon safety code “call” to alert others to get out of harm’s way?
These precautions are needed whether there are chaperones present or not. Everyone needs to be on one accord as far as having knowledge of contingency plans. It’s funny, in my early
years of teaching I was ignorant to this way of micro-thinking; I was straight macro. I had my kids partnered up, I watched them like a hawk and I stopped frequently to ensure that all students
were in tow. Notice the number of “I’s” in my plan. In a post, 9-11 world, my old methods, in and of themselves, are neither desirable, nor wise!
Practical Suggestions! In closing, I’d like to suggest the following quick-tips:
Discourage bringing expensive gadgets on the trip. They’re thief-magnets, and they’re a distraction for students who need to be paying attention.
Have assigned seating on buses, even for older students. This makes for easier head-counts as partners are accountable for one another’s presence and may communicate other needs
that you may be unaware of, for that partner.
Have an Emergency Contact List in your possession for the class. A digital camera/camera card with students’ pictures---even if school-based--- provides a quick resource for law
enforcement to tap into, if necessary.
ID tags for younger students, as well as ID cards for older ones, is highly recommended.
These are merely suggestions for thought and/or discussion. Be sure to check with your school administration to see what the policies are.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.
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