by Howard Clemens
Educators are already bogged down with many responsibilities both inside and outside the classroom. Some are in need of assistance to help plan and execute student trips. Working in the student travel industry for over 25 years, I have several ideas on how to make student trips more enticing to administrators. There are talking points for approaching the administration or even the school board about taking students on an educational trip.
I am the owner of a student travel company, Educational Travel Consultants. I have assisted many teachers in planning and executing class trips to Washington D.C., New York City, Orlando, and other U.S. destinations.
These days, class trips can be organized around science themes, performance trips, art tours, theater tours, eco-trips, and more. Taking a multi-subject approach to travel as a tool for educational enrichment means there are more possibilities for students to engage in active learning on a variety of topics.
Many teachers are required to validate student travel objectives to administrators or others. I would like to guide teachers in how to be successful at this challenge.
This article gives some tips on how to make the best approach to administrators and gain approval for a class trip to a desired destination.
1. Teachers Need to Make a Direct Connection between the Curriculum and the Student Trip. Teachers in subject areas outside of U.S. History can engage student learning with trips. The obvious choice for a trip to Washington D.C. is to tie it into an American History or Government class. But this is only one way of ‘pitching’ a trip to Washington D.C. A trip to Washington D.C. could be focused on science, be a band trip tied to a performance, include theater or provide a tour of art venues in town. My company is always ready to provide appropriate tour suggestions for any of these areas of study. Or we can book a standard class trip to Washington with a tour of the White House, Capitol, and downtown area.
2. Define the funding source clearly. Fundraising is an important issue and must be addressed in a meeting with administrators. Here is a brief list of some effective fundraising ideas that students can participate in that I recommend frequently: citrus fruit sales, selling roses and carnations on Valentine’s Day, sponsoring a car wash, selling scratch off cards, or selling CDs or DVDs. The teacher may want to do some preliminary research on or offline to confirm some of these fundraising methods and look at profit margins on products to set realistic fundraising goals for the class trip. Parents can also be asked to pay for a certain portion of the trip.
3. Present a Trip Budget: Break costs down by student and also add any other additional costs for the student trip that may be needed. A student travel consultant can assist with this. Present a comprehensive budget with an estimation of the number of people traveling on the trip.
4. Outline Financial Benefits. Teachers and chaperones are usually given complimentary trips by student travel companies. This eliminates costs for most adults to travel. This is one large benefit that is important, especially during tight budget years for the school.
5. Discuss Educational Benefits. What are the educational benefits of this trip? Will students come away with a firsthand knowledge of the way in which democracy works after visiting the Capitol and the White House? Have they benefited from visiting the estates of some of the founding fathers in Virginia, or seen the early canal system that used to move people and goods in the U.S? Indicate how students will be academically prepped before the trip. Give students a way to process the trip by building writing assignments into post travel curriculums.
6. Safety: Research and confirm that students, teachers and chaperones are insured on the trip, to alleviate liability to the school should anything occur. Select a well- established travel company that specializes in student travel and guarantees trip insurance. ETC carries a $2 million dollar liability insurance policy for all student trips. Another way to ensure safety includes something my company has done for ages. Our tour consultants book ONLY hotels with interior hallways and locked doors.
7. Chaperones: List the parents who will be accompanying students on this trip. Indicate the chaperone to student ratio.
These are just a few ideas that will guide an educator in preparing the foundation for an excellent educational experience that includes active learning: a class trip. Even during times of economic challenge educational travel should still be planned and executed, because it makes learning fun and is a desirable addition to any curriculum.