Field Trips or Field Drops

 

Today I have a bee in my bonnet. The target of my latest gripe – expensive bus prices. I’m being bussed out of a number of field trips.  I know, plenty of people have it much worse.  There are plenty of communities that are smaller than mine and further away from major cities that host events.

And I do know that there are plenty of ways to still give experiences to students – through tapping our own talent within the board, by accessing local establishments, by using technology to have skype/hangout types of situations.

There still comes a time when you may have to travel to a destination for an opportunity. Sometimes it is the facility itself that offers something you can’t duplicate, sometimes it is the person leading a workshop that might not be being streamed for viewers. Sometimes you need the experience of seeing how another institution runs a lab, or the subject itself is geographically located in an area that can’t be moved. My point is that some experiences need to be hands on at a location other than your own.

Here is my statement on bussing prices: THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. I know they have insurance, and training, and upkeep, and paying their employees. All of these are safety practices and completely legitimate. But man, I can’t help but fear they are losing out on a lot of business because teachers see the cost and don’t bother planning, or try to plan and have to cancel because not enough students can afford to go. Do busses ever have sales? Discounts? Frequent flyer plans?

I’ve previously written about my event planning skills and while I can take a certain portion of the blame when a trip falls through, often there are a number of circumstances that come into play that contribute to a cancellation.

My students have very wide and varying interests. While I try to offer a number of different opportunities, not every event will capture the interest of every student. So here is where I have to really start honing in and figuring out the best course of action.

While I do have some money in a budget, I can’t fully subsidize every trip every time. I can’t prioritize one event over an other, but I can use pure data to see which trips will offer the best return.  This year, I have been pushing forward with the trips that have the “numbers”.  The trips that get the most students that indicate interest are typically the ones that I put my effort behind and try to get organized.

Here’s where my entry forks. While this post started as a “Why must busses be so darned expensive?” it has cleaved into a “Why can’t teenagers follow through with their stated interests?”

I know you are going to shake your head, really Eva, you didn’t realize teenagers might be fickle and change their minds? Yes, I realize this happens.  My innocence and naivete really thought that if 40 students said, “YES! Let’s go there!” that a majority of them really meant it.

The hammer falls. Nope. Silly Eva, I hope you have learned a lesson. Well, I have, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not disappointed in the follow through. It doesn’t mean that I’m not disappointing the few eager participants who get excited about a trip and submit their permissions and funds in a timely fashion.

It might be a factor that I’m pulling from a dozen schools. I’m not in each school all the time. I can’t be “hunting them down” and making announcements, and spreading the word, and catching them in the hallways. I’m relying on them checking email and the class page. To a lesser degree, on their end, it may be a lot easier to just “ignore” when you don’t have to see me in person – there is almost no guilt factor, no explanation needed, no excuse to be made.  I mean even as adults, I’ve seen people actively use avoidance as means of  resolution, so I can’t be too shocked if teens use it, too.

I guess I’m internalizing a lot of this. I feel to blame and I don’t like feeling like I’m doing a poor job. I want these trips to happen and I want the students and teachers to feel like I’m offering  a great program and are happy to see me when I walk into their building. So I shouldn’t make this entry feel like I’m blaming busses and fickle teens for my lack of field trips.  It forces me to be a little more introspective and find a means to ensure my trips become “can’t miss” opportunities – so I will continue to seek ways to make this happen. I also need to fortify the other aspects of my program so that I offer plenty of opportunities and meet their needs through many different avenues.

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