A field trip is a fun and exciting experience for your students. For you teachers however, it is often more inducing of anxiety than excitement. A lot of planning and work goes into field trips, both before the trip is even announced and after the trip is over. If managing students can be difficult even in the classroom, it seems obvious that managing students on a field trip would be even more challenging.
The biggest advice we can give when it comes to field trips is to plan everything well in advance. First, never mention a trip to students before everything has been approved. Every school has different procedures when it comes to field trips. Make sure you have everything approved by the administration and set with the location of the field trip before taking additional steps. Visit the site of the trip ahead of time to scout out where students will have lunch, where bathrooms are, etc. Once that is all finished you should plan a schedule of events for the day. This itinerary should state when you will depart the school and return. It should also list what you will be doing at the site, where you will be eating lunch, meeting points, and more. This schedule should be reviewed with your students and chaperones before you leave.
Days before departing, be sure to discuss your expectations for your students with the class. Students need to understand that just because they’ve left the premises of the school that does not mean they are entitled to act however they want. In fact, it is the opposite. Students will be representing your school and that should be made very clear. Explain exactly what type of behavior you expect, and the consequences students will face if they do not obey your rules. A good consequence may be not allowing them to participate in the next field trip. Now is also a good time to split your students into their groups for the trip. Split up students that may cause trouble during your trip. It will make everything run much smoother.
Make sure you have good chaperones that understand their responsibilities. After all, you are entrusting a group of your students to them! They should know the schedule of the day, your expectations of the behavior of the students, and what to do in an emergency. Provide them with nametags for the chaperones and students, your phone number, a schedule of the day, rules for students, and something for chaperones to store student lunches in.
Of course, be sure students understand the learning objectives of the field trip. Field trips are fun but the objective of a field trip is still to teach students something. This is true even in younger grades! A trip to the zoo will teach students about animals. A trip to a pumpkin patch will teach students about fall. For older students field trips will often be even more educational. Integrate information into your lessons before the field trip so students will be thinking more critically during the trip itself.
Be prepared for things to go wrong. Have plans and backup plans. Watch your students have fun. Make it a fun and memorable experience for everyone involved!