This is my first year being a teacher of students with developmental delays. Being new to the role, some days are very successful and some days are a definite work in progress. Even with the possibly of bumpy days, I decided that my lack of experience was not going to stop me from setting up activities in the community with my students. After getting advice from some other amazing teachers, I set up my first field trip. We went on the city bus to the Dollar Store to buy holiday decorations for our class!!
The Dollar Store is about a 6 minute bus ride from my school and it took us about of 20 minutes in the store to purchase all of our items. However, I planned for this trip like we were doing a backpacking trip across Europe for 45 days.
I began by preparing my students for the trip by explicitly explaining what would happen on the trip and my expectations of their behaviour. I shared many pictures and explained them every day for a week. Here are a few of the pictures that I shared with my students:
I will be leaving school after lunch. I need to use the bathroom before I leave.
Then we will walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus.
I need to stay with the teachers while we are on our trip and listen to their instructions.
I need to stay with my teachers on the sidewalk while we walk to the Dollar Store.
When we get to the Dollar Store Ms. Axt will give me my money.
At the Dollar Store, we will each pick one decoration for the class.
Then we will go to the cash register to pay.
After we reviewed the pictures with the students, we practiced walking around the school like we were out in the community. My team and I had a meeting and made groups according to speed, personality and need. Each staff member took two or three students and walked in the halls at school the week before the trip.
We also practiced expectations of shopping in a store. The staff and I became the cashiers and my students practiced finding something, bringing it into the checkout line and waiting to pay for their item. The more we practiced the more independent they got.
Finally, the day arrived and off we went. The whole trip lasted about an hour and we didn’t have one issue. Preparing the students beforehand went a long way into making the trip successful.
The day after our trip, I showed all the students the pictures from our outing and asked about their experience. I put a few pictures and their thoughts in a little note and sent it home in their communication book. For many of my students, the pictures help them with their ability to explain what happened on the trip. It also gives parents some ideas about what happened on the trip, if their child has impaired verbal skills. The note I sent home looked like this…
It took about 10 minutes to make and the parents really appreciated the communication.
We are off on our next field trip on Monday. Wish us luck…………