The First Year Teacher: Preventing Chaos on a Field Trip Day

A school field trip can be one of the most exciting and educational experiments a student may experience.  However, without an intelligent strategy for discipline, a field trip can be a disaster in the making.

I made such a nerve-wracking, new teacher mistake when I first became a teacher in 1996. It was a combined 7 & 8-grade class. I took them on a trip to the library without a well-planned discipline strategy for negative behavior.  What a revolution!  The security guards kicked our entire class out of the library. We stood there in the rain until the bus came to rescue us.

The reputation of our school was ruined, at least from the perspective of those in the library. As was expected, the 7 & 8-grade class wasn’t welcomed to the library anymore that year.

As a beginning, first-year teacher, don’t fall into this type of trap. Make sure you have a fully devised plan for handling your students as well as other potential problems. The goal is to take your students on an exciting and productive field trip in which the reputation of the school is greatly represented and enhanced.

On a well-organized field trip, students should display an image of respect, focus and passionate engagement with the project at hand.  To plan such a magnificent field trip a teacher must carefully prepare for several things.

7 Things to Do for a Successful Field Trip

Schedule the Time and Date

Call the destination of the field trip and make an appointment.  Never assume that times and slots will be available the day or week before the field trip. A field trip should be made at least a two or three months ahead of time so that parents can be prepared to make a decision as to whether to allow their children to attend or not.

Inform Students of the Trip

Inform students of the field trip as well as the requirements for attending the event. Students need to understand the purpose of the field trip as well as what is expected of them regarding representing the school.  In other words, students must be well-behaved by making the right choices every step of the way.

Therefore, the rules and regulations of the field trip must be communicated plainly. You must have a fully formed discipline strategy designed to carry out logical consequences.  Students must know what will happen to them if they get out of line.

Arrange for Field Trip Support

Get support.  Never go on a field trip with 20 or more students without some adult supervision and support.  Attempting to manage more than 25 students on a field trip may be quite nerve wrecking.  If personal conflict erupts among them, then you may be in danger of losing total control.

Asking for a chaperone to come along is an intelligent way of preventing situations that might become uncontrollable.  These chaperones can be other teachers, support staff or even parents who are willing to participate in the lives of their children.

Support is crucial for a strong discipline plan to be effective. Teachers need to have a base prepared to send disorderly children. For example, you may have some chaperone to take disobedient children back to the bus or other designated place until the field trip is over.

Leave the Bad Guys Behind

Warning: to prevent a good deal of discipline problems you might want to leave highly disruptive students behind unless a parent accompanies them.  Students who do not listen to you in the classroom, students who you are always sending to the behavior room and students who are always fighting with another classmate will most likely embarrass you and ruin the reputation and image of your school. Keep such students away.

Send Out Field Trip Slips to the Parents

Next, send letters out to the student’s parents and highlight the time and date of the field trip as well as the cost.  Parents have a right to keep their child from attending the field trip. Don’t take it personally. Also, sending letters out a couple of months ahead of time will give the parents plenty of time to come up with field trip money for their child.


Many parents are hard-working and can barely make ends meet.  And sudden expenses only add to the pressure of trying to make money stretch.

Keep a Record of Submitted Money

Record the number of students who submit their field trip money on a daily basis. Keeping up with the number of students who have paid will go a long way of preventing the stress of attempting to find misplaced money.  Attempting to find something under pressure can be quite stressful.

Therefore, never just randomly place the money in your desk drawer. Choose a special place to put the cash so that it want mysteriously come up missing on the day of the field trip. Such issue will result in unnecessary chaos.

Make Sure Administration is Clearly Aware of the Trip

Make it clear to the administration the time and date of the field trip so that buses can be prepared to take the class or classes to their destination.  You may have to inform them more than once.  You don’t want to wait until the day of the trip and find out that administration has forgotten to make bus arrangements. Such misfortune would be a bad start to what you would like to be a fun and exciting day away from school.

Following these guidelines for planning an effective school field trip will result in a fun, exciting and productive day.  Not only will the children have fun discovering new information, but the school will also be well represented, and you will feel confident and assured things will go well.