Because Junior Tours was founded by a teacher who wanted to create a student tour resource that made educators’ jobs a little easier, we know about chaperones. We know who they tend to be and the assumptions made about what they’re there to do (from both teachers and chaperones).
This blog is about sharing some knowledge about chaperoning to ensure that you’re making parents glad they volunteered. It’s too often the case that parents and teachers allow their assumptions about the roles in play guide their on-tour actions.
The problem with assumptions is that they’re rarely accurate. Let’s look at some ways to make chaperoning more fun and less stressful.
The Most Obvious Person Isn’t Always the Right Person
Most teachers in today’s classroom work with special needs kids. These students need a little extra support. But it’s not always the case that the chaperone who’s the parent of a special needs child should be put in charge of this cohort of your students.
Keep in mind that “special needs mom” has needs of her own. Automatically charging her with managing all your tour members who need extra support is not going to make her want to volunteer again.
Do the Groundwork
You know you need behavioral guidelines while you’re out touring. That much is clear. But being diligent about ensuring your students understand and internalize them is a process. A handout with bullet points is soon forgotten.
Preparing your students to follow the guidelines you’ve set out is the kind of groundwork your parent chaperones are going to love you for. Kids who respond to directions are going to be lot less work for them and lot less stressful to shepherd.
Try an interactive approach to the guidelines. Bring them up frequently in class and ask students to respond to questions about what’s required of them while you’re on your trip. Leave no room for doubt that the behavioral guidelines you’ve set out are to be followed to the letter.
All schools have their tried and true parent volunteers. They’re the ones who show up for every fundraiser, school concert and PTA meeting.
But if you’re serious about student travel and ensuring that you have the right people in place to support your vision with quality chaperoning, then you’ll need to be in perpetual recruitment mode.
Your default is “charming”, so your approach isn’t the issue. The issue is that parents get burned out. Bringing new members to your chaperoning team is all about happy, experienced chaperones sharing with others how great volunteering on your trips is.
And that comes down to savvy chaperone management. Basic chaperoning – making parents glad they volunteered – starts with what you do to understand the roles of the chaperones at your disposal.
Being there for chaperones by preparing your students adequately is a great start. But ensuring that your chaperones aren’t overwhelmed, exhausted from out-of-control student behavior, or just done with volunteering, is smart teaching.
Junior Tours has been creating quality student travel experiences for over 50 years. Contact us.