The bulk of the field trips my teammate and I schedule occur during the last 6 weeks of school. This includes a 3 day overnight trip related to our science curriculum. If it were up to me, I would not have any field trips and definitely not any overnight trips.
When my students are in the confines of the school building, I have full control (more or less). As soon as I leave campus with my students, all kinds of untold dangers are lurking around every corner, and the number one thing on my mind is getting these students back to their families in the same condition in which they left.
We have parent volunteers accompany us on all of our expeditions and let me tell you, I am slightly picky about parent volunteers. It is not always first come, first serve in my classroom. This is what I need from parent volunteers.
- Have a cell phone in case of emergency but do not use it on the field trip. Do not make a phone call or check e-mails or texts. If you have a job that requires you to check in often, do not volunteer to chaperone.
- Spread out from the other parents. If all parents clump together at the back of the group, you can’t help with crowd control, discipline, and safety, and that is why I invited you along.
- Be at the pick up and drop off locations on time and as instructed. If you decide that it would be nice to take the kids in your car out for ice cream on the way home, or if you drive them to your house for pick up at the end of the day rather than back to the school for regular carpool line, you just created a giant liability issue for the school and me. If students ride together on a bus, this problem is eliminated!
- It is OK for you to discipline students if they wander away, are too loud, or are rude to the tour guide. I want your help in this area. If you are uncomfortable disciplining, let the teacher know. Please don’t sit back and watch the unacceptable behavior continue.
- Do not complain about school issues or faculty members on the field trip. This is not a time to vent any problems you may have with the school. It puts me in an awkward position, and it is poor manners. However, feel free to tell me what a great school year it has been.
- Do not try to have a parent/teacher conference while on the field trip. I can’t give you my full attention, and it is not exactly a private forum.
- DO enjoy yourself and this time with your child and his/her classmates. Field trips are supposed to be a little bit of fun. I do want parents who participate in the activities when appropriate and are engaged.
Managing parent volunteers on field trips for my classroom has made me more aware when I attend a field trip as the parent volunteer for my own children. I try to anticipate where a teacher might need back-up even if it is simply counting children and letting the teacher know everyone is present. Because, in the end, I always consider it a successful trip if I arrive back at school with the same amount of students I had when I left. What are your best (or worst) field trip stories? The teacher or parent version!