Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Educational Travel by Mike Siekkinen

I have written in the past about the benefits of educational travel and continue to push this approach for many reasons. For many teachers, the thought of organizing a trip with students sounds scary. There is a certain amount of risk when taking students outside the safety of the school.

To be honest, there have been years, based on the students I had, that I did not do any field trips. There were a few years where I wouldn’t have taken my students across the street, much less to an educational destination due to student behaviors. So I understand why some teachers shy away from doing “trips.”

At the same time, showing students real world applications, actually touching history and visiting historic places, can be magical for students.

For those new to educational travel, I would start small. Perhaps a single destination for a shortened period of time. A museum or public park program is a good start. To be successful you need to plan, and then overplan. Look at how many students you are taking and consider their age. Obviously the younger the student, the more supervision. You may need parent volunteers to help on the trip.

Also consider cost. Where will the funds come from? Will you need to fundraise and if so, what is your school’s policy concerning fundraising? You will have to arrange transportation to and from the event. Also consider contingency plans if this is an outdoor event. Will you be gone during lunch and if so, how and where will students be fed? Student medications will need to be arranged and brought on the trip as well, so coordinate with your school nurse. Additionally, parent permissions for these events need to be received.

This may seem like a lot to do and can be daunting for someone the first time it is done. I still see this as a rewarding experience for students and well worth the extra work to set up. Give it a try!

Have you taken any students on an extended trip? Share your stories and/or photos with us!

mike_s_blogDr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.