Here’s what I put into a large tote bag when I took my classes to a museum this morning:
- 1 field trip proposal
- 1 signed principal approval page
- 1 signed museum agreement
- 1 transportation request form
- 14 completed chaperone forms (minimum ratio of 1 chaperone per 10 kids)
- 94 completed permission slips (with sections for both parents and students)
- 2 bus parking maps
- 14 chaperone expectation forms (from the museum)
- 30 (1 class set of) student expectation forms, gone over in class as well as the morning of departure
- 1 teacher information sheet for visit and arrival
- 1 prescription inhaler for a student to use as needed and a copy of the usage recording sheet (to be transferred onto original upon return) – on loan from the school nurse, who did not accompany us
- 1 student list with chaperone name, number, and group; first and last names; gender; and emergency contact name and number for all attendees
- 1 Excel spreadsheet of students, because while the above-mentioned list had to be typed in Word tables and turned in in advance, the additional spreadsheet I created was sortable by field: last name, first name, correct/completed permission slip, medication needed, chaperone name, class period, or group number – in other words, much easier to access and use day-of
- 1 sticky note with group combinations for the tour stations at the museum
- 1 sticky note with group numbers to go on each bus
- 1 detailed itinerary
- 109 t-shirts in various sizes (most too big, because many students apparently didn’t listen when I told them that they were ordering adult sizes)
- 1 personal water bottle
- 1 very large Tervis travel mug full of strong coffee
All of the forms that I listed above were required, either by the museum or by the district/school. As you might imagine, collecting all of that information and paperwork was a time-consuming and arduous process.
So, why don’t more teachers take kids on field trips? It’s simply too much to organize. There’s too much red tape, too many hoops to jump through – and you run the risk of not getting your trip approved, even after all of that.
I went and picked up the t-shirts myself, then sorted and distributed them during class for the few days leading up to the trip. Thankfully, they were free, as was our entire outing – not because the busses/drivers/admission/audio guides/t-shirts/etc. didn’t cost anything, as I explained to my classes, but due to a generous grant and partnership between the museum and our district student activities department. (I have led or chaperoned quite a few field trips over the years, but I’ve yet to be in charge of one that requires handling money, because that involves even more steps and oversight.)
I began the whole process by finding chaperones months ago. What’s not quantified in the list above are the many emails, phone calls, and texts I’ve exchanged with parents, museum staff, chaperones, teachers, and district personnel to organize the logistics of the trip. Had we not just come back from Thanksgiving break, I would have been here even later last night, but as I’ve had a bit of time to get my feet under me, I left around 8:30 p.m. I spent my entire planning period this morning making last-minute adjustments and answering chaperones’ questions.
I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but I’ve tried to be very detailed about what has to go into the field trip process. Each district and school has different regulations, but they are similar regardless of location or grade level.
I think that all teachers would agree that field trips are a great way to enhance learning and expose our students to unique experiences, but most educators that I know can’t or won’t take the time to plan one and/or don’t want to be in charge.
Student safety is our number one priority every day, so I’m not saying that we should take away those measures that have been put into place, but I do think that there’s a better, more streamlined process that could be used to delegate responsibilities and consolidate redundant information. If nothing else, this is just another argument for my positing that teachers need secretaries.
B T Bubble Sheet