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NYC Helpline: How To: Get Started

How to Prepare for Class Trips Allison Demas

Every school has its own protocol regarding the paperwork for trips. You may need to complete forms requesting approval or notifying the cafeteria staff. You need to find out what specific requirements exist at your school.

When planning a trip you need to consider the educational purpose for the trip. You should not just be taking a trip for the sake of getting out of the building for the day. You should easily be able to incorporate the trip into a lesson plan. It could be a culminating event or an initiating event for a course of study. For example, a trip to a planetarium could follow a learning experience on the solar system. Knowing your goal will help you prepare your students for the trip. It will assist in the preparation of a trip-related activity, such as a scavenger hunt or note-taking.

You should actually visit the site before going with your students. You should become familiar with the design and locations of different exhibits. For example, if you are visiting the natural history museum after studying dinosaurs, then you should know where to find Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Before you arrange for a trip you should consider the costs. Find out the admission fees. Some places have reduced prices for schools. Be aware that there is often a lower price for Title I schools. You may need to pay for a bus. Many teachers “buddy-up” in order to defray this cost. You need to consider tolls, parking fees, and tips.

You must make arrangements with the place you plan to visit. Call in advance to make a reservation. You will need to provide the date, number of students, name, address and telephone number of your school and the name of a contact person (the person who arranges for the trip). A confirmation notice is usually sent to that person.

“Trip Buddies”:
Some teachers “buddy - up” with another teacher and class for a trip. This can help cut the cost of the bus. It also provides support during the trip. If you plan to do this, then you need to find out the group size limitation of the bus and the place you intend to visit.

Trip Envelope:
I keep a large envelope file just for trips. In it I keep copies of all paperwork required for trips. I then make “trip packets” for each trip I have planned. In each packet I have copies of the paperwork I filed with the school, lunch requests, confirmation notices, bus contracts, a class list and permission slips. I keep the packets in chronological order.

You will also need to arrange for transportation. If you are using public transportation (bus or subway) you need to fill out a request form. You will need to know the address of your destination and the stops you will be using. Do this in advance. You will need to receive approval and a form that you must present to the token clerk or bus driver.

Every school is allotted a certain number of free buses. Speak with your school trip coordinator to find out about the availability of a bus for your trip. If you are using a free bus then you need to get the bus first and then arrange the trip for that date.

If you are renting your own bus you need to call the bus company and request a bus for a specific date. You will need to provide the name and address of the destination (i.e. Museum of Natural History at Central Park West and West 81st Street). You will also need to know the number of students attending the trip (class register) and the number of buses you require. You must also request seat belts.

Permission Slips:
Permission slips should be distributed well in advance of the trip. It is unfair and inconsiderate to give out a permission slip a couple of days before the trip when you have known about the trip for months. I always try to allow two weeks time for the permission slip to be returned. I generally request that the permission slip be returned by the Friday before the trip. This allows me the opportunity to send a “Reminder” note with those students who have not returned the slip in time.

In accordance with the Chancellor's Regulation A-670 a Parent Notification/Consent Form Day Trip document must be on file for each student attending a trip. This is basically a permission slip, but it's a long permission slip. It is two pages. I usually copy it onto one sheet of paper (front and back). You need to complete the top portion of this form with specific information regarding your school and trip. I usually complete one form, copy copies for my entire class and then fill in their names at the top. The parents must complete the remainder of the form and sign it. In addition, I usually attach a simple sheet to each form that details the who, what, where, when, and how much it will cost .

As the students bring in the permission slips, and any money required, I immediately place everything in my trip envelope file. When I have time, I go through the envelope and check the names of the students who returned the slips on the class list. I staple all the permission slips together with the class list and I save them until after the trip.

Make sure that you have parents to join you on the trip. One parent for every five students is a good ratio. Make sure that the parents and students understand that the parents are there to assist you and the entire class.

Trip Box:
I also keep a “trip box.” In this box I store nametags, band-aids, tissues, baby wipes, paper towels (individual sheets torn off the role), rubber gloves, and plastic bags which I keep in individually sealed plastic bags. I have a class list of students and emergency contact numbers. I also store a disposable camera. On the morning of the trip I take the contents of this box and place them directly into my backpack. I also put the confirmation notice, bus contract and money in the backpack. In addition, I bring my identification, cell phone, note pad and a pen.

Name Tags:
Every student must have a nametag. I avoid anything that hangs around the neck or can rip easily. I cover my nametags in clear contact and attach them with safety pins. The school name, address and telephone number are on the front of the tag. The student name is on the back. I pin the nametags on my students before we even leave the classroom.

Before Leaving School:
My school requires that a notice be placed on the classroom door stating that we are on a trip, the destination, the names of absent students and students not attending the trip and their placement (i.e. “Bobby Jones placed in class 1-214”). A duplicate notice is submitted to the secretary in the main office. I always include my cell phone number on this paper. This way the school can contact me in the event of an emergency.

When you board the bus make sure that the students’ seat belts are secure. Make a note of the bus number. This is written on the outside of the bus and on the inside by the door. This will help you when you are looking for your bus to return to school. One yellow school bus looks much like another.

A Word of Warning:
You should want your students to have a variety of experiences. You should want them to have fun. However, first and foremost you should want them to be safe. If you do not have control of your group reconsider taking any trips.


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