These are some tips we have gathered over many years of planning school trips for teachers and from our vast experience as teachers ourselves, gathering student and parent buy-in for our trips abroad and far afield. All school cultures are different, but there are elements that can be extremely helpful no matter where you are. We have found that it’s not about one or two things, but an accumulation of small things that add up in gaining a lot of interest and momentum for your school trip.
1. Get the word out as early as possible! Families and schools have complicated calendars and you can’t get on that calendar too early. Often there is a snowball effect: the more students that get on board early, the easier your recruitment process becomes as they do the selling for you! Differentiate your trip from the others offered at school by highlighting both the place and the educational theme of the trip. At CE, we offer the most comprehensive educational experience in the business.
2. Let your enthusiasm be contagious! Have fun with it! You are working to provide the opportunity of a lifetime for students- take pride in your effort and enjoy the process. You cannot expect the students to understand the depth or the sheer excitement of the opportunity you are offering. Share with them your own story that reflects your passion for offering this great opportunity. Enthusiasm can be catching, and you’ll be surprised how fast your group grows as you share more and more details, photos, and plans.
3. Get support from within. Go to an administrator or seasoned teacher at your school who has led trips early in the process to learn about opportunities you may be able to tap to get the word out, get the administration on board, or get funding to make the trip available to a wider range of students. This works differently at every school, but you won’t find those “hidden pathways” without a little digging. Have the administrative team write a letter of support for your trip and publicize it in the various school and parent newsletters.
4. Take advantage of all a travel company has to offer to help you plan, organize, communicate and achieve your educational goals. You are busy teaching, coaching, reminding, explaining, challenging, hand-holding, reporting, grading, communicating, leading, investigating, planning… need I go on? This could last a full page! The point is, in the words of Sweet Brown: “Ain’t nobody got time fa’ dat!” Plan your trip through an educationally focused travel company like Chill Expeditions so that you don’t get bogged down in the details of trip planning. The good ones will help you with Power Points, PDFs, wikis, websites, etc. etc., taking a lot of the work out of your hands.
5. “Plan your work and work your plan” Think ahead of time about target dates for an introductory student meeting, a subsequent evening parent meeting, a fundraising schedule (if applicable), and a final details and expectations meeting… and be sure everyone knows these dates! Recruit a colleague and/or parent to help you spread the news about your trip and to help you organize all the details with the students and parents. It is best to gather all parent and student emails early in the process so that you can keep them updated easily as the trip gets closer.