In the May 2020 Teach and Travel publication, an article by Julie Beck outlines the Top 10 Things Traveling Teaches Should Know. Focusing on her experience as an international traveler, Beck gives some helpful advice and inspirational wisdom for traveling teachers.
As someone who traveled locally and internationally during her tween and teen years, I loved her article. Planning a student trip is one of the greatest gifts a teacher can give their students.
Even if you're not traveling across oceans, your students still receive incredible benefits from the experience. Since Beck's article focused on international travel, I wanted to share Five Things Tour Leaders Need to Know when planning a trip to the Historic East Coast.
1. Travel Impacts Your Student's Future
Travel can change the course of your student's life. Instead of sitting at a desk all day, students can explore and interact with history in a real, tangible way while visiting sites in Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York City. While on tour, students discover subject matter and careers they never would have been exposed to at home.
Travel has a lasting impact on your students' future in education. A study from the Wagner Group showed that 95% of adults who traveled during their teen and tween years were more likely to graduate from high school. Nearly 63% of that group went on to attend and graduate from college.
2. Curriculum Connections Are Powerful
There are countless ways that you can connect your student trip to the historic east coast to your curriculum. More often than not, students can meet and exceed curriculum standards while traveling. Traveling supports the inquiry method of learning, and the hands-on experiences allow students to predict, collaborate, research, and solve problems.
Additionally, curriculum connections don't just happen in museums or during a lecture. They can happen everywhere. In an earlier blog post, a teacher who travels every year with his students shared the many ways he connected their stops on tour with lessons from his classroom.
3. Travel Teaches Gratitude
Traveling outside of your students' comfort zone makes them aware of the many things they have to be grateful for. This resonates deeply with me as I recall my first trip to Arlington National Cemetery. As students walk through the seemingly endless rows of tombstones, it's impossible not to be humbled and grateful for their sacrifices.
Whether you visit veteran memorials in Washington, D.C., or the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in New York City, there are many ways school trips can teach your students about gratitude. Consider asking how monuments, memorials, or artifacts made their way to where they are now. Tracing the origins of the Washington Monument, for example, can help students “develop a sense of appreciation for the many things that had to happen” for it to be constructed.
4. Travel Leads to Higher Engagement
A student trip often boosts student engagement in the classroom before and after the trip. In the same Wagner study mentioned above, more than 50% of children who traveled achieved better grades. 80% of students thought educational travel sparked a greater interest in what they were taught in school.
In a similar study from the University of Arkansas showed that students who attend multiple field trips have higher levels of social-emotional skills, stronger school engagement, and higher standardized test scores. Additionally, students who attended field trips had more positive school engagement and had fewer disciplinary infractions.
5. Traveling Grants New Perspectives
The primary goal of student travel is to give students the opportunity to experience life in new contexts. Even without traveling to another country, travel grants students a new perspective. We believe in the positive educational, cultural, and social impact of travel for all students, and the research shows the benefits of student travel have a ripple effect that lasts a lifetime.
The Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) conducted a study on the Social Impact of Student Travel on Students and Teachers. The study shows that 54% of students who participated in group tours reported an increased desire to learn, grow, and explore more - as well as an enhanced desire to continue traveling.
Originally published June 2020, updated January 2021