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Friday, December 04, 2015

Field Studies: Why and How?

Yesterday I was lamenting the extensive, new expectations with regard to paperwork and funds collection for field trips. It's a big add-on when it comes to time. As it stands now classroom teachers have very little time each day for planning lessons, completing paperwork, answering emails and phone calls, and responding to student efforts. In fact many teachers work for upwards of two-three hours each day to complete that work making a 65-hour work week not unusual for educators.

I brought the issue to a teacher committee. The first reaction was the question, Why do you plan field trips if they require all that extra work? I responded that I plan field trips to make the learning more engaging and interesting for students. Others mentioned that they no longer plan field trips or apply for grants due to the time the extensive paperwork takes. Still more had great ideas about possible online collection vehicles and streamlined efforts to complete all this paperwork.

As I think more about this, I do think we can streamline this effort with good collaboration with one another and the administration. The first step is to survey the staff with the following questions:
  • How much time do you spend on field study planning, forms, and follow-up?
  • Do teachers at some levels get stipends for field trip work while teachers at other levels do not get those stipends? Does this matter?
  • What new ideas can help us with this work?
I look forward to greater analysis related to the issue. In the meantime, our team will use our PLC time, in part, today to organize and complete as much field trip information as we can. I spent about a week of my own time this summer planning some of the trips. I know my colleagues have also spent substantial time planning for some of the trips too. It's time we wanted to make because we think field trips invigorate the learning and teaching we do. 

How do you streamline the paperwork and planning for field studies? Do you have administrative support for these efforts? Thanks for sharing your ideas.