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Dr. Ken Shore's
Classroom Problem Solver

Field Trips


Class trips offer students unique learning experiences, and provide them the opportunity to experience firsthand what they are studying. Unfortunately, class trips also provide the opportunity for disciplinary problems. With some advance planning, however, you can avoid those problems and ensure an educational and trouble-free trip. Begin by arranging to take the trip in the morning, when students are more likely to be alert, focused, and cooperative.


Visit the site prior to the trip. That preview will help you identify potential problems and plan for them. If you cannot visit the site ahead of time, talk with a representative and inquire about specific rules you should emphasize with your students (Can they touch the exhibits, for example) and whether any special circumstances should be discussed with students in advance.

Set ground rules. Let students know they are representing their school and you expect them to be on their best behavior. Inform them that the usual school rules are in effect, and add any other rules specific to the field trip (No talking while a tour guide is speaking, for example). Consider having each student sign a list of the rules signifying their agreement to comply with them.

Go over bus rules. Keep in mind that some students do not take a bus to school and, therefore, might not be familiar with bus rules. Make sure all students understand bus protocol related to seating arrangements, moving around the bus, talking, use of the windows, exiting the bus, and so on.

Talk with students about the field trip. Let them know about the day's activities and inform them of any events that might be upsetting (loud noises, for example). You might share with them some literature about the field trip or direct them to the site's Web site. That kind of information will make the trip more meaningful for students. They also will be more focused on what they are seeing and less likely to fool around.

Provide activities for students to complete while on the trip. You might, for example, give them a list of items to find, or a list questions that will be discussed when they return. Encourage them to ask questions of the guide. Such activities will help students focus on what they are seeing and give them fewer chances to misbehave.

Talk with troublesome students before the trip. If you have students who are likely to present behavioral difficulties, take them aside individually and ask for their cooperation. Review the rules and the consequences violating the rules, and let them know you expect them to behave. Remind them that class trips are a privilege and that students who misbehave run the risk of losing that privilege in the future.

Establish a signal to get students' attention. If you need to quiet students, you might raise your hand and form a V with your finger. Tell students they are to raise their hands when they see you raising yours, and be silent.

Consider your student groupings. Assign problem-prone students to chaperones with good management skills, but avoid grouping together students who tend to have problems when together. If you are especially concerned about a student's behavior, you might ask his parent to serve as a chaperone. Meet briefly with chaperones to discuss the rules for the trip and how to handle uncooperative students.

Bring a cell phone, if possible. Besides providing you with immediate access to the school in an emergency, a cell phone also allows you to contact the parents of a student who presents a problem. You might even have the student make the call. Let students know you have a cell phone and will call their parents if necessary.


About Ken Shore

Dr. Kenneth Shore is a psychologist and chair of a child study team for the Hamilton, New Jersey Public Schools. He has written five books, including Special Kids Problem Solver and Elementary Teacher's Discipline Problem Solver.

Click to read a complete bio for Dr. Shore.