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Managing Student Behavior: Tips from Julie Beck

May 29, 2019

It takes tremendous work and skill to lead a trip. But do you know how to manage student behavior during your trip of a lifetime? Learn what tips and experiences Julie Beck, student travel pro and contributing writer for Teach & Travel, offered in a recent edWebinar, sponsored by SYTA.

Going in with a plan is integral. Beck suggests trip leaders draw on their own trip management and teaching experience, research, and what other leaders have to share in regard to their own experiences.

“How do you manage students in your classroom every day?” Beck asked. “What is it that you’re doing to command control, maintain patience and get students to do what you need them to do? Use those same techniques while on the road.”

It’s important to know your students well before departure through team-building exercises: Learn their strengths and weaknesses! Beck suggests asking students to write an essay about what they look forward to and what they fear the most about the trip. This helps you get acquainted with the students and helps them become more familiar with each other.

While on the trip, sit down with your group at the end of each day to discuss what was exciting, what went wrong and more. Be sure to have students—and teachers—sit and interact with new people they may not know.

“Students end up actually looking forward to those conversations,” said Beck, “and it helps them to learn and grow as individuals.”

When it comes to rules, set them in place well beforehand, review them thoroughly with students and parents, and set high expectations and parameters. Beck suggests having students sign a copy of the rules as well as a behavioral contract.

“Remind students there are rules for a reason, with the main reason being their safety,” said Beck.

“Remember: It’s easier to be tougher up front and loosen some rules later. If you start out real lackadaisical, it’s impossible to tighten up on the rules later on.”

When it comes to disciplining students who are stepping out of line, Beck suggests first pulling aside the students causing the problem to discuss it privately and quickly. Enforce the rules with students and ensure there are real consequences for those who break them.

“The first time, we give a verbal warning,” said Beck. “The second time, we might have them shadow a teacher. And if it goes beyond that, we call the parents if needed.”

Be prepared to make necessary adjustments on your trip. This could include changing roommates, separating trouble makers, and mixing up seating on the bus or while eating to give students different perspectives of the experience.

Beck notes that trip leaders need to model ideal behavior if they expect students to also behave appropriately. Follow all the rules, show respect for all, and mingle and chat with a variety of people on the trip—not just the other teachers and tour guides.

No matter the number of times you’ve visited a location, maintain your excitement and interest with destinations and activities like trying the cuisine. Your excitement level will undoubtedly be reflected in the students on the trip.

Flexibility is key.

“You could plan as well as you possibly could and something can still happen causing you to change your plans, like an injury or health issues.”

Humor is essential.

“You have to be able to laugh at yourself!”

And no matter what occurs on your trip, Beck notes, “Memories are being made, friendships are being developed and lifetime educational impacts are being made.”

To view the edWebinar in its entirety, click here.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Teach & Travel.