June 8, 2008 § Leave a comment
Having just got back from my first Hamble College educational trip I wanted to think over my thoughts. After all where do colleagues seek guidance when planning educational trips?
I can only assume that the smooth running of this trip was due to the planning. The trip organiser was very experienced, having run this trip successfully for the past 8 years, and this experience was clearly demonstrated on a number of occasions.
A strong presentation and the ability to pick up any early issues was important. Interestingly, of the three or four very minor issues, one or two arose simple because a guardian was not present at the meeting. In reflection the advice given at this presentation was extremely accurate.
Departure and Return
The ground rules were set early and the trip leader picked up any minor misdemeanors swiftly and the penalties were immediate and non-negotiable. All aspects of the long journey were executed efficiently and we arrived at the Hotel tired but early. The return journey was equally as efficient. The Awards ceremony on the way home was a great way to ‘finalise’ the trip.
The hotel was well positioned, suitable and had scope for student activities. Food offered Spanish dishes but also some excellent ‘teenager’ cuisine, so chips. Evening ‘lights out’ was monitored by a room call and light out call. Poor bed-time behaviour resulted in lost free time in each case without exception. I was a little surprised at the students behaviour, our trip leader expected it.
Instructions given at the hotel were reinforced on the coach mic and regular meeting points, designated shopping areas, gave the students security and staff the reassurance. I was surprised by the amount of free time given to our students, but in reflection these young people needed time away from their studies to bond. Would this bonding have occurred if the students had been driven too hard? Also at every opportunity students were encouraged to sample the culture of Spain.
As a staff member, I felt that I was well looked after. All non-hotel meals were provided, with staff eating lunch together during the excursions. Although I enjoyed the time with the students and the galleries, it was meal times with my colleagues I enjoyed the most. We discussed our professional lives and opinions, but also our personal lives away from Hamble College. There were a few minor disagreements, however one did lead to a heated, late night debate. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to disagree so vehemently with a colleague and be able to work professionally the next day. In fact the outcome led to a stronger team performance on the final two days. For me, the experience taught me that as teachers we are all very different but balance requires honest dialogue. Part of this discussion focused on what I would do differently, what I would modify and what I thought was positive. Well, the final component is far longer that the first so here are my reflections, actions I would adopt;
As the week progressed, I was impressed by our trip leaders organisation but even more so his level of consistency. Instructions were clear, failing to meet meeting times, bed time protocol or poor behaviours were always dealt with the highest integrity.
The trip had a great balance between learning, encouraging students to embrace the culture and fun time, also between staff led activities and free choice. The workbooks were a fantastic resource.
I felt that the awards were a great tool for recognising the students.
Communication with Coach Staff
Liaising with coach staff was a constant activity. Times were checked, confirmed and where the drivers were a little tardy, our trip organiser picked them up.
Things I would do differently
Prior to the trip I would have probably taken on a more congenial approach. In hindsight, this would have been a mistake. It is my opinion, that the tight guidelines made for a very fulfilling trip. I may have posted some potential awards in the back of workbooks, but honestly, these are small points. This trip was so well organised it is very difficult to highlight changes.
My final thoughts are this, trips really enliven the department. They provide time for staff to really get to know one another and the students. These relationships are essential. Honesty is not an easy dish to serve, but those who offer it on their menu will be respected for their decision.