Field trips are a time-tested experience to get students learning about content outside the classrooms in ways that are not possible in the school. In my class, this extends past content and into life skills and how to treat others.
Before the first trip of the year, I teach my students my expectations for our trips. Aside from the basic ones that I hope all teachers go over, such as bus safety and what to do if you become separated from the group, I engage my students in a discussion about how to present oneself to the people they will encounter. We review these expectations prior to each trip.
First and foremost, I expect my students to look in the eye and say “Good morning” to the bus driver when they get on the bus. When we return to school and students climb off, they say “Thank you”. I want my students to learn that there is more to being a bus driver than simply driving the bus. Drivers are people. I am yet to see a driver who doesn’t smile when an entire class greets them and thanks them.
I’ve taken my classes on several trips to massive events with other schools in attendance (basketball games, Broadway shows, and concerts) and at each have proudly watched them put other schools to shame with their decorum. In fact, several times over my career, people attending the same events have remarked to me how impressed they are with my students’ behavior.
Field trips are great because they break the monotony of school routines and get children out to places they may never go otherwise. But don’t neglect the chance to use them as opportunities to teach students skills that are transferable throughout their lives.