Top 10 Things to Consider When Planning and Scheduling Field Trips

managing field trips, field trip planning, planning and scheduling field trips

Managing Field TripsField trips are educational experiences scheduled off-campus and planned by school personnel to reinforce classroom instruction. Field trips can be a wonderful experience for both teachers and students, providing a memorable learning experience. 

However, due to funding limitations, time constraints and increased liability concerns many school personnel and administrators are reluctant to request and approve field trips. In spite of these concerns, well planned and scheduled field trips can be a valuable extension of the classroom learning experience. 
Below are the top 10 things to keep in mind to help make the planning and scheduling field trips process more efficient.
1. Regulations and Administrative Procedures
When considering a field trip, school personnel should consult their district’s existing field trip manual or policies.  Familiarizing themselves with the current policies and procedures will allow for a smoother process.  It is imperative that school personnel follow all regulations and comply with pertinent administrative procedures.  There are also varying policies to consider for overnight, extended, out of state and out of country field trips.
2. Trip Selection
Field trips should be designed around specific education objectives.  School personnel must ensure the destination suits the objectives and overall expected student experience.  Since all field trips are an extension of the classroom, they provide unique opportunities for learning that extend beyond the confinements of the four walls of a classroom.  School personnel will also need to conduct some research when determining the field trip location.  They need to contact the location for more detailed information, such as hours of operation, special student discounts, etc.  In some instances student personnel may want to conduct a pre-visit to the site to familiarize themselves with the location, features and available activities.
3. Budgetary Guidelines 
School district budgetary guidelines have to be taken into consideration when planning and scheduling field trips.  School personnel must be aware of all the fees when determining the final cost of a field trip.  Costs for a field trip may include transportation costs such as cost per mile, fuel, driver salaries, admission fees and meals.  Overnight trips include additional expenses such as lodging.
4. Requesting and Approval Process
The process for submitting and approving field trips should be clearly defined and documented.  There is typically a timeframe by which all requests need to be submitted.  School personnel need to be aware of this timeframe in order to submit their field trip requests far enough in advance to allow for administrative concerns, issues or questions to be addressed.  Also, some field trips may require multiple approvals before they can be finalized and scheduled. 
5. Parental/Guardian Communication and Permission
Parents and guardians need to be informed in writing of all approved field trips their child will attend.  The communication should include information such as date and location, transportation arrangements, educational purpose, cost (if any), clothing recommendations and lunch/meal arrangements.  It is also the responsibility of the school personnel in charge of the field trip to secure written parent/guardian permission for every student attending the field trip.
6. Communication to Other Faculty and School Personnel
Other teachers need to be notified in advance when students are going to miss their class as a result of a scheduled field trip.  Teachers need notification to adjust their lesson plans and allow for make-up assignments, if needed.  Notification of all field trips should be shared and communicated with the entire faculty via standard communication channels such as memos, faculty meetings, emails, online calendars or newsletters.
7. Supervision
School personnel need to be aware of and follow the minimum requirements for adult supervision based on the number of students attending the field trip.  Elementary, Middle and High School may all have different supervisory requirements that need to be taken into consideration.  Once a field trip is approved then school personnel can notify parents of the field trip and request their assistance for help as chaperones.  It is also important to take into account chaperones that are certified in special areas such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid.
8. Student Preparation and Responsibility
It is usually helpful before the field trip to discuss with students the purpose of the field trip and how it fits in with their current curriculum.    Discussing the schedule and various activities would give the students an idea of what to expect during the field trip.  It is also important prior to the field trip to review the safety and behavior rules and conduct expectations.
9. Safety
Safety should always be a primary concern when planning and scheduling field trips.  School personnel and chaperones need to be prepared for any unexpected accident(s) or incident(s) that may occur.  Emergency contact information, medical information and any authorized medications need to be taken on the field trip and remain in a secure location.  A planned meeting place should be agreed upon once at the destination in the event that a student becomes separated from the group.
10. Transportation
Transportation is a central focus for any field trip.  Requirements must be communicated to the transportation department for transportation needs to be scheduled.  Based on the field trip requirements the transportation department will assign buses and schedule drivers.  Transportation for field trips may be contingent upon the availability of vehicles and potential conflicts with the regular school transportation schedule.  Transportation arrangements must be provided to accommodate any students with special needs.

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