It has been nearly a full three weeks since school started and the children (and bus drivers) are back in full swing. The first week back was actually a really nice change of pace since we have all the elementary students (pre-k through 5th grade) getting off at the same school. Its been working out really well on our end.
That being said, its that season again. The season of fall field trips to pumpkin patches, Halloween parties, and other various fall activities. Here are a few pointers that will help make your field trip run smoothly if you are the coordinator.
1. Make sure you have submitted the proper paperwork to the bus barn/garage in sufficient enough time for the bus barn to secure a driver and bus for the trip. In this paperwork should be the location of pick up, the time of pick up, whether or not lunches are to be picked up/included, and any other essential information such as a destination. Also, you should include a time for drop off back at the school. Keep in mind, most bus drivers have to return in enough time to complete their afternoon routes.
2. When you board the bus at the time of the field trip, make sure you coordinate with the driver and confirm that the driver has the paperwork you submitted stating the destination and times. Make sure you have a roster that has the names of the students you are taking on the trip along with emergency contacts for each student and give a copy to the bus driver. If the bus is in an accident, this roster can be very handy to have.
3. Bring directions. Don't automatically assume that the bus driver knows how to get to all destinations you put on your trip request. Having directions and/or a map printout can be very handy.
4. Preach and practice bus safety. Before you get on the bus with your group of students, go over the bus rules and regulations. This way there is no surprises for children when the bus driver asks them to be quiet at the railroad crossings or tells them to sit properly in the seats. The bus driver may also go over the emergency exits on the bus and explain how to use them at the time of the trip.
5. Meals. Coordinate with the lunchroom if they are going to pack your class bag lunches, or ensure that every student has sufficient money to purchase their own lunch at the destination. Don't forget the bus driver. A simple meal is very much appreciated by many bus drivers especially when we wait on the group as they do the activity. A simple sandwich with fruit and milk can make all the difference and is warmly received.
6. Contact information for the bus driver. Don't hesitate to ask the bus driver for their contact information when you get to a destination. I often provide my cell phone number for teachers/coaches riding my bus that way when the group wants to board the bus again, they have a way of contacting me. Don't assume that the bus driver will stay in one place while your group does the activity. Often activities last longer than 2-3 hours and bus drivers will often go and visit with other bus drivers, shopping, or to a nearby restaurant and may not be readily available at a moments notice. It is a good idea to give us about a 15 minute notice before your group ends the activity, that way we can be ready for you.
7. Be ready for inclement weather. Plan accordingly.
8. Have fun and when in doubt, ask the bus driver.
If you follow these steps, you are likely to have a very successful field trip/activity.
The Bus Driver