Field trips are fun for teachers too, but also a lot of work
For school kids, it doesn't get much more exciting than taking a field trip.
While many children see field trips as a day away from school, teachers view it as a learning experience to complement classroom lessons. But during the trip, and long before students board the bus for their destination, teachers have a lot to think about.
"This includes allergies, lunch, bathroom breaks, accessibility to all areas, money to pay for the trip, bus drivers to get us there, parents who will volunteer," said Radford University senior special education major Molly Arrington. "I mean, teachers literally have to think of everything ahead of time."
Arrington is part of Assistant Professor Carol Bland's Education 425: Social Studies Methods class that recently visited RU's 380-acre Selu Conservancy for an informative field trip to learn about field trips.
"The purpose of the trip to Selu was to explore the value of taking school children on field trips and learn about all it entails," said Bland, whose class contains students preparing to be either special education or elementary education teachers. "My goal was to talk about and learn about the logistics of field trips, including how to prepare their future students for the field trip."
Senior Julie Gosline of Alexandria said the Selu experience "opened my eyes to the hidden complexities of field trips."
Arrington agreed: "Teachers must plan for every child's need, not just in the classroom, but out of it as well."
In addition to learning the ins and outs of field trip logistics, Bland wanted her students to learn the educational value of field trips. "I want them to know how to use the information once they get back to the classroom, so it's not just a play day," she said. "You, as a teacher, really apply that learning to the classroom."
Bland, who is in her first semester teaching at RU, said Selu is the perfect place to take her social studies methods students, and she plans to take future classes there as well. She and her students visited Selu as if they were on a class field trip, giving them the perspective from both the guiding teacher and visiting student.
"Selu opened my eyes to many different aspects of field trips," said Ashely Fitchel, a senior of Fairfax County. "One thing I really took away from the trip was the engagement piece. Students don't just attend field trips for the information, but for the experience. Selu offers them an incredible amount of fascinating information as well as engagement pieces to back it up."
Appalachian Studies Instructor Ricky Cox led Bland's students through Selu. "He took us through as if we were students on a field trip," Bland said.
"It was almost like walking through a real-life book that was placed in the 1930s and also having our own personal narrator as a tour guide," Arrington said. "Putting history into story form and adding real-life objects for students to see and touch truly helps make connections."