Field Trip Information for the Substitute Teacher
A good sub must be ready for anything. Whether you’re off to the zoo, the local science museum, or a play at the local university, a class trip makes significant demands on every teacher who participates. The safety of the children is your responsibility. Their good (or bad) behavior in public reflects on both you and the school. The parents who attend as chaperones can be a great help, but in their own way, they need to be managed in much the same way as the children do.
A day outside the confines of the school building can be fun, but only if you know what to do, how to handle the responsibility, and how you’ll need to prepare. In this chapter I’ll try to provide you with some guidance in each of these areas.
What Type of Trip Should I Expect?
The easiest field trips to manage are those that go to an entertainment or cultural venue such as a theater, ballet, concert, or opera. The students are seated in an auditorium, monitoring is relatively easy, and their movement is constrained. Trips that take the children to an outdoor venue—zoos, theme parks, and beaches, to name just a few—with many potential attractions are probably more fun for the children, but they can pose significant challenges for the teacher and the parent chaperones.
If your class is going to an entertainment or cultural venue, it’s a good idea to provide some background or context before the trip, so that the students understand the things they will see and hear. It’s also very important to have the students recognize that their behavior will be very important and will be monitored carefully.
If the class is going to an outdoor venue, it is critical to establish tracking techniques, assign a buddy system, define meeting times, establish groups with assigned chaperones, and specify other safety procedures. It’s also very important to provide name tags identifying the child, the school, and the location of the transportation.
What do I Need to Know about Permission Slips?
Virtually every school system demands formal parental permission for all out-of-school activities (and some that occur in school). Therefore, every child who will be going on the field trip must have a signed permission slip. No slip, no trip!
In most cases, slips are sent home a few weeks before the trip and are collected in the days immediately preceding the trip. If the slips are not in the classroom (check the teacher’s desk), be certain to check in the school office. Compare the list of students against signed slips. If a child does not have the permission slip, the office staff will try to contact the parent. If this is not possible, they will arrange to have the student sit in another classroom for the day.
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