1. Establish clear rules and expectations for activity and behavior for each activity, rest time, and at the end of the day. Prior to each activity block, address the group of students and outline the expectations. If you don’t tell the students the expectations, they can’t meet them.
2. Don’t assume that the students know how they should leave their hotel rooms for the cleaning staff. Ask them if they have left the room appropriately, listing the criteria, and give them a chance to fix it. Have a clean room competition with cash prizes. Inspect the rooms with a hotel staff member prior to leaving at the end of the trip. Note that this action protects the students from being accused after the fact of ‘damaging’ something unreasonably.
3. Consider the safety of the student. Although they are old enough to have the responsibility of not being in the teacher’s presence every minute, they should never be alone when given free time in a mall or other recreational area. Provide the students with the teacher’s cell (provided by the school) number, so that they can call you if they run into some type of trouble.
4. Display a positive and friendly disposition so that students feel comfortable approaching you when they have problems or issues while on the trip. Being approachable is important, and it does not compromise your ability to enforce rules. Enforcing the rules does not require sternness; be fair and consistent, even delivering discipline with a pleasant demeanor.
5. Ensure that everyone is present before moving on to the next activity. We use a count off system. Every student is given a number, and they count off in order. Using the master number list, I can quickly see who is missing when a student does not yell out his/her number.
6. Remember medical conditions and food allergies. Ensure that the students on the trip know what foods must not be brought on the bus, etc. Monitor students with medical conditions, asking them how they are doing and if they need reminders to take their medication.
7. Keep parental contact and medical information with you at all times in case there is an emergency. Note that the parent is usually the first to know if there is a problem on the trip because of the rampant use of cell phones. They can likely help you to locate a student if that’s the case. If there’s a significant medical emergency, get the student treated or in the process of being treated, before calling the parent.
8. If a student is not socializing well with the other students, try to make him/her feel involved by inviting the student to shadow you. If it’s a male student, have the male chaperone initiate the invitation; if it’s a female student, have the female chaperone initiate the invitation. For example, if a student doesn’t have a buddy at the mall or someone with which to have dinner, offer for that student to come with you. Make the invitation seem fun if you can. For example, there’s this really great Italian restaurant on the next block; do you want to come? You want every student to feel good about the trip!
9. Provide the parent with an itinerary and contact information. As well as a full itinerary, provide the parent with the contact numbers for most or all of the places you will be on the trip. Ie. Teacher organizer’s cell, hotel, theatre, museum, university, etc. This suggestion may be becoming unnecessary since almost every student on the trip has a cell phone with him/her, but it definitely provides the parents of those who don’t with detailed information as to how to reach the student if necessary.
10. Ask the students for feedback about what they liked or didn’t like about the trip. You can’t please everyone, but they may have good suggestions that will make the trip appealing to other students, thus attracting others to the trip.