Success and the Field Trip

How does one measure the “success” of a field trip? Is it successful if no one gets lost or hurt; if learning takes place in a meaningful way; if we left and returned on time?  Today I’m going to see if I can find ways to qualify my recent field trip as a success.

First of all, my prediction: YES! Success is not even the best way to describe the outcome of this trip. Remember that report card comment, “** is a pleasure to have in my class” because really, what else can you say when everything seems to be in place? This trip was a pleasure.

What was this trip that I’m so prematurely labelling a success? I took my secondary enrichment students to Toronto to explore Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower, and Canada’s Wonderland. We did all of this in one day, no sleepover. Some of you can just stop reading here and already say, “You did all that in one day, yep, that’s a success.”

But how or why am I labelling this a success?  If you had seen me in the early stages, you would have worried my head my explode as I ventured into planning this trip. Trying to organize 3 different venues, 3 hours away was no easy task for me. I had to make sure all places could accommodate us, it would be fun and interesting,  we had bus transportation, we could feasibly manage it within 24 hours, and find enough kids to jump on board.

I also had to arrange payments before we reached these destinations, and I’m new to the whole payment authorization, invoices, money order, cheques, credit cards, and electronic funds transfer system at work. (Tip to also-new’s – student due dates need to be earlier than you think to get money in place. Trust me. EARLIER THAN YOU THINK!)

Nevertheless, success. It doesn’t matter how much stress I felt leading into this day, it was worth it. I tend to over-analyze as a normal part of my personality, so let’s just assume an average teacher might stress a little getting organized.  Don’t worry, it all works out. The satisfaction of knowing you can do it is half the battle.

What are my parameters for a successful field trip? (and is almost every situation, student/teenager can be interchangeable) Here we go:

Students are happy and eager to try some learning away from the school walls.

Parents/caregivers are also happy and eager to give their children opportunities that they might not have in the everyday learning environment.

Students are way more polite than you might think. Teenagers are upstanding citizens who want to  contribute to their community and their own learning.

Some teenagers might even want to spend some time with you on a more personal level to get to know you as a person.

Students will make the best of a situation when need be.

Students will help each other and make others feel included if they notice someone is left out.

If the destination is worth it, a long drive is manageable even with 50 teenagers!

Teenagers like to be able to let their guard down and “act like a kid” for short bursts. (We just need to give them those opportunities.)

Students like to share what they know with you and are willing to take the time to explain it to you. 

Teenagers will share their feelings with you, make sure you are listening.

Students will offer to share their table with you at a meal.


I could go on, but is that list long enough to defend my prediction of this trip being a success? Wait, I didn’t even talk about the “learning” and “curriculum” and what we actually did on this trip. Did I really need to? The way I felt on that trip will last a lot longer than my memory about how to find the “beak” on a squid. I connected with students and they proved to me how much they have to give. I like to see them nourishing their human side as much as their intellectual side. I measured this success beyond the classroom, and that is why I’m still glowing about it almost two weeks later.  I wonder how you measure success?


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