Make a Checklist (Again): Field Trips

May 22, 2014

After our recent post on checklists and our way-back-when post on Field Trips, we finally got our hands on their ultimate love child: Stacie’s Field Trip Checklist.

Field trips have a tendency to sneak up on us, but they are (for the most part) entirely predictable. The same standardized steps can be taken each time, regardless of class or location. A little planning + a little teamwork = a lot of energy saved + a lot more fun!

Stacie's Field Trip Checklist

Here’s what I love about Stacie’s checklist:

  1. Categorization by Bucket. Instead of just making a random list, Stacie bucketed the steps by category. In her school’s case (early childhood), categories included “Food,” “Chaperones,” and “Permission Slips.”
  1. Specificity and Clarity. Stacie specified how many chaperone bags were required, that the snack should be easy, and that each chaperone needs a handout with details. Hey, if you were moving three-year-olds around the DC area, you would want to be specific too!
  1. Positively Paranoid. A good checklist not only plans for the expected, like lunch distribution and permission slip collection. A good checklist also prepares for the unexpected. We love how Stacie’s checklist considers the rain date in advance and ensures background checks include the person’s legal name. Stacie anticipates what could go wrong and insures against it.

I could even see how something like this could be powerful as part of teacher training or orientation: This is how our school does field trips. Out with the guesswork, in with the clear system.

I took the liberty of thinking about how Stacie could make her checklist even stronger for the next run:

  1. Include links to or samples of any deliverables. Could there be an example handout to chaperones? A list of “easy snacks” for preschoolers? Pictures of well-packed chaperone bags?
  1. Re-orient the list by timeline. We love how Stacie did the thinking in categories; that’s often how our brains work best. But for the final version, she could re-write it with headers such as “8 weeks prior,” “6 weeks prior,” and so on.
  1. A quick note on roles and responsibilities. People always crave clarity. It might be helpful to outline the roles of the teachers, the leader, the compliance manager, and the chaperone at the very top of the list.

I can see how a checklist like this will benefit Stacie’s school for years to come. Think of the time saved when each teacher doesn’t have to make her own plan from scratch every single trip, and when the school can save its collective learnings. Time-saving and effective, my two fave things!

Does your school need any standardized checklists? For parent nights? Field trips? Conference days?