Taking your class out of the established learning environment has an incredible range of benefits. They’ll be able to gain hands-on experience in the subject matter that they’re studying, enjoy a day away from the ordinary, and be able to better understand the real world applications of the lesson. With that said, field trips also pose a distinct and serious amount of challenges, particularly when it comes to ensuring that behavior remains in check. If you’re planning a field trip with your students this semester or academic year, you’ll want to do everything in your power before the actual event to ensure that it goes smoothly.
Plan out how to drive engagement
While you may have worked all year to establish firm rules and boundaries regarding participation and behavior in your classroom, the excitement and energy of a field trip can quickly counteract this if not handled carefully. One of the best ways to ensure that you avoid this chaos is through planning activities that will require and guarantee the highest level of student engagement possible while in the new environment. For example, if there will be a guest speaker at your field trip, Academy of Art University recommends having each student plan out a question that they will ask that individual. Activities of this sort will require focus from your students while also letting them know that they are expected to be involved in the discussion.
Make your students aware of what to expect
As we’ve already noted, much of what causes behavioral problems on field trips is the fact that your pupils find themselves in a new environment. While we want the experience to be exciting and refreshing for them, we also need to recognize the benefit of debriefing them beforehand. According to the National Educators Association, you should make your students thoroughly aware of what to expect before the field trip. Discuss the setting, the itinerary, and, most importantly, the purpose of the trip. Explain to them that while the excursion will certainly be a fun change of pace, it’s far from a day off. If your pupils are aware of what’s going to happen throughout the day and how it fits into their existing curriculum, they’re far less likely to be thrown off guard by the change of scenery. In this sense, preparation and well-set expectations are key to ensuring good student behavior.
Don’t overly incentivize good behavior
One of the easiest mistakes to make when planning for a field trip is offering your class some sort of reward for good behavior while they are at the field trip site. Though this may seem logical at a cursory glance, there’s a considerable flaw with this thought process. If you tell your students that behaving accordingly on the field trip is worth some sort of incentive, they’ll come to be under the impression that good behavior isn’t required. Before and during the trip, make clear to students that field trips are a privilege, not a right, and that they all need to be sure to act appropriately during the experience. You should also remind students that they are serving as ambassadors for not only their class, but the school as a whole, and that it’s vital that they leave a good impression on whomever is hosting them.