Taking 20+ students outside the classroom to a museum, park, or science center can seem daunting. But with a little planning and a few tricks, you’ll have the peace of mind to take your class or group on an awesome adventure.
1. Count them often – before getting on the bus, when all together after a bathroom break, before and after lunch, and definitely before getting back on the bus. You may also want older students to count themselves as they leave and enter the bus and before and after breaks. Students will feel some responsibility for being where they should be and keeping an eye out for each other.
2. Provide enough information about the field trip so parents can dress their children appropriately. If your group is going on a hike to look for animal prints, students shouldn’t wear open toe shoes, for example.
3. Speaking of what to wear, have your group of students wear the same shirt or same color shirt so they can easily be identified during one of your many counts.
4. Have students wear a “name tag” not with their names, but with the name of the school/organization, a contact address and phone number. Giving students an emergency card with this information also works. So if someone does become separated from the group he or she can hand the card to an adult and get help.
5. Introduce the entire class to the chaperones, so students know who they should turn to if they do find they need some help. If the chaperones are willing, have them wear the same color shirt at the students, so they are easily recognized.
6. Double check that you have all required medications or special instructions, such as EpiPens and inhalers. If a student has a medical bracelet or other type of identifier of an allergy or medical condition, remind parents to have the student wear it the day of the field trip. Any chaperones or field trip hosts will then be able to quickly identify any potential issues or be able to quickly help the student.
Be sure, go over expectations for the field trip with students. The more they can anticipate, the more confidence they will have, and less likely to find themselves in a predicament. If students know where they should be, what they should be doing, and when, the more everyone will share peace of mind.