Educational field trips have always been a major highlight of teaching and learning strategies of schools. Field trips are nothing but school or class trips that have an educational purpose of making the students interact with nature, surroundings and indulge in experiential learning. Trips like these enable learners to visit the location that cannot be duplicated in the classroom and which hold great pedagogic value. They make learning more enjoyable and valuable for the students, by providing them with opportunities to learn concepts by experiencing them in real world (relevant) context. Field trips allow learners to have a shared social experience that lets them explore new things in an authentic setting.
There are different types of ‘Out-of-School Time'. It may be short - a day trip or some hours and long a week or months or year for the study abroad programs.
One of the best ways to escape the confines of the classroom is by motivating the learners to serve the community and also learn from it. Field trips in the various community settings where students can engage in a conversation with various members of the community like field trips to banks, to post offices, government offices, to various non-governmental organisations etc. All these community engagement opportunities will help the learners to discuss various issues related to the course content. Students can also help the community address its needs. These kinds of field trips help the learners develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, personal efficacy and polish their leadership qualities.
There are several ways that allow learners to study abroad and spend some time out of their regular classroom to gain some exposure in the outside world. Students can go abroad for a semester through an exchange program where the sending institution has a control over the curriculum and duration. This kind of ‘Out-of-School’ time allows learners to gain confidence to travel abroad, helps them in developing their inter-cultural communication, make them understand the greater picture of social issues like inequalities and differences in the world system.
Internships provide learners with much required experience in their field of interest outside the classroom; it helps them to understand real life transactions and how to sustain their calm and prepare them to face the world after their school is over. Internships are a great way to indulge in experiential learning.
Various historical places and monuments serve as great examples of natural and cultural histories. Many students of Social Sciences discipline can have field experience working at these historical sites, collecting data and analysing the archives. It is moreover like project-based learning.
After having taken a closer look at the various types of ‘Out-of-School’ time, we would come back to field trips and focus on ways to conduct effective field trips.
Tips for Effectively Conducting a Field Trip
These tips may be effective for the teachers and administrators in planning a trip.
Organising field trips is not at all easy as it seems to be. It is not something that can be planned and organised overnight. A lot of planning and thought process needs to be put in to effectively conduct a field trip ensuring your students’ safety. Here are a few things that can be done to conduct a field trip effectively.
Risk assessment is the most important aspect of organising any field trip. It could include visiting the site before the actual trip to make sure that your students’ medical needs are met; the site is safe for a bunch of children and that the weather conditions during that period of time would remain normal. It is always a good idea to involve the students in planning so that they will be aware of possible risks at the trip. Conducting risk assessment would also ensure that you are better prepared for any scenario and therefore you end up making more informed decisions. Informing Parents and Obtaining Parental Consent
Even before the trip starts, it becomes necessary to inform the parents about the proposed trip and then you ask them for authorisation letter. Providing them with information means that you are already making them aware of the potential risks and the measures that you will take to ensure safety.
After this is done, obtain an authorisation letter from the parents that would let the organisers know about any medical issues and also about the child’s standard behaviour and what can be expected from them in particular situations so that planning can be done effectively.
Excluding Pupils from the Trip
Since organising a field trip and actually taking a bunch of learners outside the schools involves extra responsibility and risk, therefore it becomes imperative for the school to consider excluding the students who might indulge in any kind of risk or whose medical conditions are not stable. School should be mindful in such a scenario.
Always, before assigning any supervisor for a field trip, the appropriate adult to pupil ratio must be considered. At least one female adult and one male adult should accompany the mixed-sex group. Adult supervisors should be such who would treat all the children equally.
While planning a trip, utmost attention must be paid to the type of transportation you are planning to opt. In this case as well, risk assessment is the key. Here are few of the things that need to be considered while arranging transportation for the field trips.
(1) Passenger safety
(2) Type of journey ( is it a local trip or an outstation one?)
(3) Traffic conditions
(4) Weather conditions
(5) Number of halts considering the length of the journey
(6) Competency of driver
All these factors should be carefully considered keeping in mind the safety of everyone who will be on the field trip.
All the students and teachers (supervisors) must be fully insured. The institution might need to get the following kinds of covers for all the participants- Employers liability, public liability, cost of medical treatments, specialised risk activities, loss of baggage and property, cancellation and delays etc. It is also important to be aware of the risks excluded from the policy.
Accidents and Emergency Procedures
All the emergency procedures must be clearly set out in the form of written policies so that every supervisor/group leader has a checklist for immediate action in an emergency.
Accounting for Money
A budget must be prepared before the start of any trip and should list all the possible expenditures that might occur during the trip. There must be clearly identified contingency fund. One must work out the cost by the number of pupils that the institution plans to take on the field trip. Expenditure must be kept in mind like boarding and lodging costs, staff costs, entry tickets to places and any additional costs.
Field trips can turn out to be great fun and are also educational. They also help in developing a strong bond between the teachers and the students. If conscious and careful planning is done at the right time, it will ensure that you have an effective field trip without any discomfort that will turn out to be the most memorable experience for your students. Anyways, it is rightly said- failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’. So be calm, plan, and enjoy!
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