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What’s in a name? Jumpstart your EOTC program!

Posted by on September 24, 2015

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As we learned from the Grimm’s Fairy Tale Rumplestiltskin, knowing the name of something can certainly be helpful.

However, as with most things in life, there’s more to it than that.

Knowing the names of things is definitely important but knowing their focus and function is a lot more useful.

That holds true for your Education Outside the Classroom Program as well.  Whatever you choose to name your program will help determine a certain direction but choosing the focus and what you want to achieve will be more productive by leaps and bounds!

For example, here are some of the names that schools I work with give to their programs:

  • Week Without Walls
  • Out of Kingdom Trips
  • Malaysia Week
  • Global Action Program
  • Week Without Walls Outside the Classroom Learning
  • Global Citizenship Week
  • Discovery Week
  • Conservation Week
  • Bali Adventure Camp
  • Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC)- now one of my favorites!

This is mostly due to the fact that EOTC can refer any type of learning that is taking place outside the classroom from museum visits to service learning or learning adventures like the trips I lead!

These various names definitely help me to know the general direction of the trip but what I find to be more helpful is a lot of planning and communication with the teachers on their goals, the experiences they want for their students & any desired learning outcomes they want to achieve during the trip.

Here are a few tips and things to consider for Jumpstarting your EOTC program so that everyone involved will get the most out of their learning adventure:

I. Choose the focus 

All of the trips I lead incorporate some elements of adventure (hiking, rafting), science, ecology, natural history (seeing orang utans in the wild in Sumatra, swimming with sea turtles in Sulawesi), cultural immersion (dance, homestays, village visits), conservation & sustainability (palm oil plantations in Sumatra, habitat loss & endangered species), service (local school visits, mangrove restoration, tree plantings) and the like.

You can definitely include all of these or focus on a few.

II. Plan early

It is crucial to plan at least 6 months – 1 year in advance.  The earlier the better. It takes several months to confirm an itinerary, make bookings and take care of all the logistics necessary for a successful EOTC program.  Waiting too late causes stress for everyone involved.

III. When will your trip be?  

Some schools want their trip early in the year for team building and getting to know the students to set the tone for the rest of the school year.  Some schools prefer later in the year to round out their curriculum and reinforce lessons learned throughout the year.

There are good reasons for both and will most likely be determined by your school calendar and the best time slot available during your school year.

IV. Will the whole school go at once?

Or maybe each grade level or division will go at a different time.  There are good reasons to send the whole school at the same time and there are also good reasons to stagger the timing of grade level trips.  But it will probably boil down to logistics and the timing of other events based on your school calendar.

V. Will students travel by grade level or in mixed grade groups?

If you want a different theme for each grade then stick to sending them by their grade level.  If you want them to mix with different grades and get to know each other then mix ’em up!

Most schools I work with send each grade level to a different location and for that reason they tend to stick to grade level themed EOTC trips.

VI. Should there be any curriculum connections or standards & benchmarks met during your EOTC program?  

I am really torn on this one.  One one hand, I know that schools sometimes need to justify the reason they are embarking on an EOTC journey and to do that they must connect it to the curriculum in some way.

On the other hand, many students NEED to get outside and play!  There is even a term for it now, unstructured, unscheduled, unsupervised free timeWhen I was growing up we just called it going outside to play. Times have definitely changed.

For your EOTC trip it is important to have some goals in mind.  Free time and free play should be one of those goals. Meeting curriculum or desired learning outcomes can be another.  Whichever you choose make sure there is an element of fun and that free time is included!

Remember… it’s all about perspective and learning to see

When you see this…

I see this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VII. Consider all 3 parts of the trip

The best trips I lead include all three components of pre-trip lead in and preparation, during trip reflection and post-trip follow up with connections made back on campus.

If you want to have the greatest impact on your students the best thing you can do in make it fun, memorable and relevant to their lives.

Including all three components of the trip and especially making connections back on campus will help to ensure this happens and provide a more meaningful experience before, during and after their EOTC adventure !

VIII. Include the price of the EOTC trip in school tuition

I’ve been in several meetings at various schools where the focus was to convince the parents that the trip was worth paying for.  They could not understand why they had to pay extra money for EOTC.

Avoid this.  It’s not fun.  Include the cost of EOTC in your regular school fees and tuition.

Hopefully, these tips and things to think about will help.

For help planning your next EOTC adventure contact:  earthmattersinfo@gmail.com

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