For international schools it is important to integrate quickly into the group, the new teachers and students. We have many new students every year, usually up to 1/3 of the student body. With so much transience, an adventure trip outside of school is a great way for students and teachers to bond and form stronger relationships. This will facilitate more collaboration during the school year and hopefully, allow students to learn more.
I spent the past couple of weeks organizing trips for each of the grade levels. It was time consuming negotiating with the travel agencies, planning itineraries, collecting money and permission slips, collecting materials for team-building activities, etc. In the end it was all worth it as you can see above, the 36 teachers and students attending this particular trip, really forged stronger relationships.
We focused on activities the entire group could do. We had two long hikes interspersed with cultural activities. The cultural aspects of the trips allowed the students to appreciate our host country of Serbia. Back at the hotel, we worked on mental team-building activities like creating a banner with traits of the Learner Profile, etc.
In reflecting upon the trips, these need to be put in every year. Ideally the cost could be put into the tuition. I also recommend having them be close to school and inexpensive. Our students travel a lot during the year for the CEESA sports and activities events.
As the Principal, I am in charge of keeping a positive and calm learning community and the retreats go a long way towards this.
We asked for feedback from students and teachers to improve the trips for 2012-2013 and got the following:
- During homeroom yesterday, I talked with the grade 10 students about their experience with thetrip. They were very positive about the trip and had an excellent time. They thought the program was good and rated the hotel accommodations and food as awesome. Transportation was fine, they were happythey could go swimming and enjoyed the activities and the visit to the monastery.
Their suggestions for improvement: They think the trip should be longer. They would like a one-week trip. Curfew should be later Need a little more free time built in, and more swimming time
They felt the 9th graders were a little out of control and wanted the teachers to be stricter with them. They were unahppy with the behavior of the 9th graders at night at the hotel (noisy, running in the halls…) They felt some students were disrespectful to the culture. One example was by not dressing properly for the monastery visit. They think a little more info beforehand about this kind of thing would have helped. But all in all, very happy with the trip and want a longer one!