School trips. A time to connect.

Image courtesy of Analía Manetta, @flickr

Image courtesy of Analía Manetta, @flickr

The following post contains absolutely no references to the use of technology in the classroom. So be warned, if you’re looking for possible uses of handheld devices during schooltrips you won’t find anything contained within.

School trips are first and foremost great craic; craic being that Irish expression meaning fun and laughter. I went on a school trip recently to London with 43 primary school children for 3 days. That line on it’s own would be enough to frighten off many school trip organizers. THREE days in London with FORTY THREE primary school children aged 10-11 years old. Cries of ‘logistical nightmare, what about the risk assessment, ahhh the possibilities for mayhem!!!’ might follow if it was suggested in some staff meetings. But not at the school I’m working at. This was their third excursion to London and would prove to be the most enjoyable and tiring yet. We visited (in no particular order) The British Museum, The National Gallery, The National History Museum, St Paul’s Cathedral, St James’ park, Buckingham Palace (outside only), Westminster (outside only), gate entrance to Number 10 (after which a police officer commented we were the most well behaved group of children for a long time), Thames boat trip, Tower of London, The Lyceum Theatre for ‘The Lion King’ and the London Eye. We walked a lot through the streets crowded with Londoners going about their daily business but kept together without a problem. I used a call signal ‘Thunder’ to which my group of ten replied ‘Lightning’ whilst regrouping.

We had a great time. It was educationally speaking an ‘effective learning experience’. But more important than that, it was a time that we could connect with the children we teach. The pressures of todays curriculum leave us with very little time to talk with the children in our class. We spend more time talking to them than with them.

A well organised school trip can give you back that time to be personal. I got a chance to get to know some children in my school for who they were rather than what they’re like in the classroom. I found many actually had a ‘voice’, an opinion and a character that was deeper than the questions they answered in classroom situations. It also gave them an opportunity to find out that I’m not just a teacher but a real person. Someone who has a life outside the confines of the classroom.