3 Tips to Teach Your Class a Lesson (Out of Your Backpack)

Googling “field trip meme” is maybe one of my Top 5 favorite pastimes.  I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that speaks to the lack of excitement in my life or the boundless comedic material that field trips provide.

Field trip memes highlight and allow us to laugh at the stressful parts of field trips that, in reality, make us want to hide in the last row of the bus.  

The problem is, now that I teach students outside of the classroom full-time, I don’t get to hide in the last row of the bus.  Instead, I’m leading as many as 6 field trips each week. And these aren’t the “walk around and see what you see” field trips. These are content-based lessons, where myself and my students are on a mission and can’t afford a show-stopping meltdown.

Through my experience schlepping and teaching students all over DC, I’ve gathered 3 tips to build your own mobile classroom and teach your class a lesson (out of your backpack).

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid a meme-worthy field trip situation.

Tip #1:  Bring things that hold students together
Field trips interrupt the flow of the day and take students out of their element.  Resources like restrooms and water fountains will not be as readily available. The items below can help keep the students in one piece so you don’t find yourself stopping your lesson and corralling 30 students to the bathroom because one student needs to wash his/her hands.

  • Bandages: make any bump or bruise feel better
  • Hand sanitizer/baby wipes: keep the bad bugs at bay
  • Tissues: help contain sneezes, tears, and spiders
  • Cough drops*: alleviates stubborn coughs in silent art galleries
  • Time-filler activities: makes standing in line (somewhat) pleasant

*check to make sure your school policy allows you to distribute these to students

Tip #2: Bring things that hold other things together

Organization is king on field trips.  And you are going to be collecting and hauling items of many shapes and sizes.  The items below can help keep your hands and your pockets free and clear.

  • Clips/rubber bands: keeps all those IMAX tickets from growing legs and walking away
  • Folders: holds maps, worksheets, and notes students pass to each other
  • Storage bags: collect small trash or little treasures found along the way
  • Tape: mends broken pencils and ripped papers
  • Post-its: organize permission slips, rosters, and other important information

Tip #3: Bring things that can be used to identify or be identified

Crowds complicate field trips.  The items below can help you avoid a “Where’s Waldo” situation with your students.

  • Permanent marker/pens**: mark important information on any surface
  • Unifying items: keeps everyone looking like a team (could be matching name tags, a flag, or noise maker (depending on the setting))
  • Battery pack for cell phone: refreshes your phone that will be working extra hard for you

**These markers are not allowed in some places because of the fact that they can mark any surface. Like that Picasso over there.

Hopefully these tips will help you maximize the learning experience with your students outside the classroom.  Still, no matter how much you prep…

What else would you bring on a field trip to teach your class a lesson (out of your backpack)? Comment below!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *