Friday, May 24, 2019

Field Study Thoughts

We've had many field studies this year, and as I tell students prior to each adventure--safety comes first. The better we can support students' ability to self regulate, use good manners, advocate for their needs respectfully, and learn, the more fun and successful field studies will be.

In general, we continually try to improve our field studies to match learning goals and provide students with opportunities to learn in many wonderful settings such as nature preserves, theaters, museums, historic sites, stadiums, and more.

Some of the most important training and efforts to support optimal field studies include the following:

Good listening skills
While we would never want to have students listen for too long, it is essential that students learn to listen in order to learn. They need to understand the role of experts when it comes to learning new information, and show those experts, guides, and leaders respect including good listening. There are many ways to build those listening skills, and it's essential that students learn and practice what's expected in this arena at the start of the year.

Polite words and language
We know that people who learn to speak politely generally gain favor over those who are rude--students need to understand that with explicit teaching and practice about what is considered polite and what is not.

How to ask questions and advocate for what you need
In general our team works to serve every child well, and that service is much more doable when students are able to express their needs and ask questions in ways that are respectful, understandable, and reasonable. When you tell students, "I'm here for you, and these are the ways you can express your needs and questions to get what you need or want," that helps.

Good preparation
The better you are prepared, the better the field trip will be. We alert families to what children need for a successful trip. We suggest types of clothing such as layers or shoes that can become muddy, sunscreen and bug spray when needed, and food needs such as lunch and snacks. If children are dressed for the type of event and weather, they are generally more comfortable. If they bring healthy snacks or lunches, they generally have better energy. If they know what to expect from the trip, they tend to enjoy the trip more too. So good preparation matters.

For most school field studies, it's important to have chaperones to help you out. We are fortunate that many family members volunteer to chaperone. In the future, we may want to bring along extra teaching support too. Special educators and specialists could be very helpful for our trips since they know the students well. It's also important to give the chaperones a heads-up about what the trip will entail and what the expectations for student behavior are.

Personal needs
It's important to figure out where the bathrooms will be and other kinds of personal needs supports at the venue. For example, sometimes children require specialized seating for theater shows or specific groups for team events.

Field studies open students' eyes about the kinds of learning and living that's in the world around them. Field studies also provide a common learning experience that builds team and positive reference points for later learning. Field studies further require a lot of good planning and prep. Our team is invested in this part of the learning year, and we repeatedly reach out to family members, students, and colleagues for suggestions, reflections, and critique so we can continually make these experiences better and better.