To bring or not to bring: parents
The rules around this topic vary from school board to school board, and there are arguments both in favour and against it. If you do choose to bring parents as chaperones, there are ways to ensure that you bring the right parents on the tour (for instance, asking parents to write a letter/application, conducting criminal checks, interviewing with the principal, or requiring certain skills – you could look to add a doctor, medic, nurse, etc.).
In the end, whoever you pick and however you pick them, ensure that you are clear from the outset as to your expectations of what being a chaperone on your tour entails. Outline to them their jobs, roles, and responsibilities – pre-tour, on-tour and post-tour – and discuss with them various “what if” scenarios, so that those people that you do select as chaperones clearly understand ahead of time that their number one priority is to ensure that all your students are safe and well-supervised so that the trip runs smoothly.
Preparing your chaperones ahead of time for what to expect is key. I always emphasize to my chaperones from the beginning that everyone is expected to “earn their way” as part of our tour.
I ask them to be active participants in the pre-tour planning and organizing, from paperwork and collection of items from students, to helping with & organizing fundraisers, to attending our pre-departure Parents Night (so parents can meet the people taking their kids away!). There are so many pre-tour jobs to do as a Group Leader, so use the help available to you!
Prep your travel team in advance
It is also wise ahead of time to prepare your chaperones with all the information they’ll need to do their job effectively while on tour. I like to provide my travel team with a package in writing that outlines exactly what my expectations are of them and the trip policies & procedures that we will all collectively enforce. As well, provide them all the emergency contact information, medical info, dietary restrictions, trip information, and so on – that way, everyone is on the same page and understands exactly what is expected of them.
Before the tour, I would also recommend hosting a meeting (or multiple meetings) as an entire chaperone group – this is particularly important if some of your chaperones are not teachers at your school – to discuss the trip policies that you have in place for the students, the duties & roles expected of the chaperones, and to discuss any medical or dietary concerns regarding any of the students. That way, you’ll all be on the same page before issues arise.
Topics: Tour Planning, Teacher Story, Safety on Tour