Friday, January 24, 2020

Field Trip Musings

I have grown to love field trips because of the way these explorations open children's eyes and introduce them to worlds they might not imagined before. That's what happened today when we visited the McAuliffe Challenger Center to take a virtual trip to Mars and learn about the universe in the center's planetarium.

Similar to the betterment we seek with all things we do, I want to continually create a best possible venue of field trip experiences. We have a wonderful list of places to visit--places that match our standards-based program, SEL, and culturally proficient teaching goals. We typically have terrific family support for these trips including lots of chaperones, and I am finding that the places we visit have become more and more alined to the standards and modern ways of teaching and learning. While we are continually developing our programs for betterment, the places that we visit are developing their programs and offerings as well.

So as I assess our collection of field studies, I want to start with what's working:
  • The field studies open eyes, broaden perspectives, spur curiosity, teach the standards, and develop a greater sense of a learning community.
  • The field studies not only teach the students, but the teachers learn as well which helps us to teach the curriculum even better.
  • The field studies develop our family-student-teacher team since family members, students, and teacher embark on the trips together.
How can we make these trips better?
  • Next year we're going to look more closely at scheduling since we don't want to miss some of the programming at school and we want to choose the best possible days for these trips. 
  • I also want to think about student behavior--while most students behave beautifully on these trips, a few have trouble with self regulation and good conduct. I want to think about ways that we can prep students well for behavioral expectations. This may mean working more closely with specialists to think about children who may have special challenges in this regard.
  • I would like our special educators and other specialists to attend some of these trips with us in order to best support student learning. I want to think about how we might make this happen more often.
  • I want to make sure we have sufficient parent chaperone support for every trip. We recently fixed one problem related to this, and I have some ideas about how we might attract more parents for trips that are less supported.
  • Visiting the places that we visit with the children prior to the trip can also help us to target the visit in the most meaningful ways.
  • Continuing to look for grant money to support the trips helps to defray the costs.
  • While safety and good behavior are important, I also want to work on having a bit more levity during the trips. I admit I am super vigilant about safety and behavior, but I think can continue to lead that while also bringing a bit lighter and more playful attitude on the trips. 
These field studies are an important part of our overall program because the trips invigorate the learning in ways that we can't replicate in the classroom, ways, that I believe have a positive impact on student learning well into the future. Onward.