You look tired. More so than, erm, usual.
Yes, I had the pleasure of spending last week at a residential.
Oh. How did it go?
Getting to know students outside of the curriculum was definitely a positive. It certainly helps see the kids as humans rather than data points.
I hear a "but..."
It was absolutely exhausting. I was arranging it all myself so the stress level was sky high, and being in “teacher mode” non-stop was just horrendous.
It sounds like you may have made some rookie mistakes...
Yes, I should have said “no” when they first asked me.
No! Residentials can be really amazing experiences for teachers as well as students, but you need to follow some basic rules:
- Never try and arrange everything yourself: team planning is the way forward.
- Ensure duties are clearly allocated between you: for example, one of you handles the booking, another composes and sends the letters home and collects permissions.
- Plan the time and staffing so everyone gets a break.
- If you know a trip that used to run and was a success, copy it. There is no point reinventing the wheel. If you have an awesome itinerary that is full to the brim, but has well-planned 'rest points' and lots of eating/toilet stops, then everyone will have a good time.
- It is not always possible, but going on these trips with friends makes everything much easier
Ok, I get that, I see how those points can solve some of the issues, but what really hit me this week was managing behaviour.
I suppose the temptation for kids is to think that because they are not on the school site, then the school rules don’t apply. Make it clear before you go – ideally at a parents’ information evening – that normal school rules apply and any extreme naughtiness will result in the end of the residential for that person at the parents’ cost: this usually does the trick.
Does that really work at bedtime when the worst behaviour occurs?
If you set out expectations from the start, then I tend to find that kids are ok. They will, of course, require a few stern “lights out now/busy day tomorrow" reminders while you are doing room checks, but it is funny how much that in loco parentis thing kicks in when you are away with them.
So I should put this one down as a learning curve and trust future residentials will be awesome?
Teenagers are – ultimately – 90 per cent awesome and you will enjoy seeing them outside of a classroom situation more than you realise. Throw yourself in, expect to be tired but expect to have a lovely time, too.
Katie White is an English teacher in Devon.