Even though teachers have “eyes in the back of their heads,” we can’t be everywhere during field trips, so responsible parent chaperones are a must to safely and successfully extend students’ learning outside the classroom. Dominique recently asked the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! for advice on preparing parent chaperones. Here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure your parent chaperones are well equipped to help you provide a safe, stress-free and spectacular field trip experience!
Do write out important information.
Prepare an informational sheet that lists: students’ names, itinerary, departure location, goals for the trip, emergency contact information and any other important instructions your chaperones should know.
Do explain roles and responsibilities.
Have a brief meeting with chaperones before you leave school to set expectations. “Too many parents want to chaperone to be ‘buddies’ with the kids rather than to help them stay safe and learn.”–Scott “I ask them to be responsible for monitoring all students that are assigned to them at all times. They need to be cognizant of departure times and inform me of any problems that may have taken place on the trip.”–Angelique
Do give out an emergency contact number.
Make sure chaperones know how to contact you in the event of an emergency. If you aren’t comfortable giving out your personal cell phone number, find out if your school has a pre-paid phone you can take with you. If not, you can use a program like Google Voice. “I use Google Voice. It rings to my cell, and my personal number is still personal.”–Elena
Don’t underestimate cell phone usage.
Some chaperones may end up doing more texting and talking on their cell phones than supervising students. “I generally say something like this: ‘Please pay close attention to the students in your group. Once, on a field trip, my parent volunteers got so busy talking to each other and on their cell phones, they weren’t paying much attention to the students! It made me super nervous!’ It comes out sounding caring but not controlling.”–Lydia
Don’t assume chaperones are in the clear.
Some districts require parents to undergo a background check prior to supervising students on a field trip. “Check and see if your district has a set policy… I had to get a background check done before I could go as a chaperone for my granddaughter’s class.”–Susan
Don’t forget say, “Thank you!”
Remember that field trips aren’t possible without parent volunteers. Make sure you give parents your heartfelt thanks for their time and effort to make the day a success!