Field trips — a highlight for students and teachers

FSPA Executive Director Judy Robinson encouraged high school journalism teachers and students attending the FSPA District 2 workshop to start making plans now to attend the FSPA convention in April in Tampa.

Field trips can be one of the most inspiring aspects of the school year for students and teachers. But school districts are making more restriction on field trips.

School testing — including FCAT and AP exams — limit the time students can miss school as they must prepare for tests or be at the school for tests. The Florida legislature voted to expand the scope of testing to put less emphasis on the FCAT. That’s good. However, the extended testing may eliminate several weeks for field trips toward the end of the school year.

Tight budgets cut down on field trips. In some cases, teachers have to pay for their own substitutes even if they are chaperoning students on a field trip.

Insurance restrictions often limit the transporation options. Teachers can’t drive their own cars and transport students. School vans may not qualify for insurance requirements. A school bus is an expensive investment.

Some school districts limit trips to the state. Some ban any trips in May.

Two tips for planning a field trip:

1) Make the decision as soon as possible. In some school districts, all field trip requests are due at the start of the school year. The sooner you decide to take the field trip, the sooner you can begin the fundraising. The trip can become a reward for students and a motivator during the school year.

2) Talk with a teacher who successfully takes fields trips. Get advice about planning — from the number of chaperones needed to how to make hotel reservations and complete all the necessary permission forms.

Planning a field trip can be a real learning experience for the teacher. Keeping up with the paperwork, travel plans and finances is challenging. But the field trip can recharge a teacher’s professional batteries and provide connections with other educators. And the field trip can be a wonderful learning experience for the students.

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