Teacher to Teacher Talk Series: First Parent Meeting
First Travel Meeting: Top 5 Tips
AE’s Teacher to Teacher Talk series is written for and by our group leaders. We’ve asked veteran teachers who have traveled with us year after year to share their expertise, tips & tricks with each other, and to offer advice to first-time expedition leaders. This month’s topic: Travel Meetings!
Are you hosting your first travel meeting? Check out the guidelines below…
Angie Snitgen shares her Top 5 Tips to help make your first travel meeting a success.
Preparing for your trip launch
Effectively communicating your trip is the first step to increasing awareness and student enrollment. I like to announce the trip opportunity one year in advance to provide families time to save money, fundraise, and spread out payments. For example, I host an early registration and parent meeting during the spring of the year prior to their trip. At this time, I offer a guaranteed spot on the trip, however this is not an Academic Expeditions standard. I believe it helps increase enrollment by providing an incentive. I launch again to families during the following fall, prior to their trip. At this time registration is on a first come first serve basis as we fill each bus. Even though having two parent meetings increases enrollment, it’s okay to have one, especially if it’s your first trip.
Each school has their own method of providing information and resources for students. However, it’s important to use as much communication as possible. For example, telling families about the trip opportunity only one time can easily get lost in the shuffle of day to day school activities. For my trip, I have our social studies teachers announce the opportunity in their social studies class, providing resources and advertising the parent meeting date about two weeks in advance. This gives time for students to talk about the opportunity and see which friends might attend. It’s inevitable that students generally do not want to sign up until their friends join. So after a few interested families join it’s like a domino effect. The AE Trip Flyer provides families with all the necessary information such as the trip cost, tour highlights, and how to register. It also informs parents of who they should contact with various questions. Furthermore, when students are provided a flyer in class not all of them will take it home. I do a mass email to families with the same information so parents have easy access about two weeks before my parent meeting and then a reminder one week prior.
Here is a list of resources your school might have for communication:
- Setting up a both for trip information at registration before school starts
- Mass email list to inform families of the trip opportunity
- Distributing Handouts such as the AE Trip Flyer and a parent meeting invite letter
- PA announcement or school news broadcast
- Announcements at curriculum night or open house
- Announcements during school assemblies
- Having grade level teachers discuss the trip opportunity during homeroom or content level class.
Hosting your trip launch
On the evening of your parent meeting, take a step back and realize YOU are the most important part. You have all the necessary information provided but now it’s your time to shine and share the passion for… why you’re running the trip. Start the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and promising to keep the meeting short and sweet. Introduce yourself and share your passion. For example, I teach US History and love providing a trip to Washington DC for my students to enhance their learning far beyond my classroom walls. The trip provides a real life experience that students will remember besides making greater connections with peers.
Another great option is to include a guest speaker. Having another teacher, student or parent share their excitement and trip success provides value and lends credibility, bringing the program to life. Academic Expeditions can also send a representative for first time trips to help facilitate parent meetings providing in-depth details about the expedition and answer any questions families might have.
- Visual Aids
Another important part of your parent launch is providing some visual aids. Depending on the resources available at your building it’s a good option to display photos of past trips or play video clips. Academic Expeditions has a few videos that provide trip highlights and student/adult testimonials. Having families visualize the destination builds excitement for the trip opportunity. It’s also important to have more trip flyers printed and ready for parents to access information.
- Trip information
All important information can be accessed through your trip website. This can be displayed and discussed with parents or you can use a PowerPoint to go through necessary information.
Here are some important things to present:
– Trip dates and cost: When presenting this it’s also good to talk about any fundraising opportunities your school might provide and showing parents how donations can be made using the AE Trip Website to help families lower the cost of student travel.
– Educational Value: Discuss how the trip will correlate with their student’s curriculum at school and share how each individual tour guide keeps students actively engaged. At each site, students will learn information from their guide and then actively experience it firsthand. Additionally, AE has WASC (Western Association of Schools & Colleges) Certification which means their curriculum-based programming helps bring textbooks to life through experiential learning, personal growth and enrichment.
– Trip Itinerary: Parents like to know what they’re paying for so it’s good to show them where to find the trip itinerary on the website. When parents see the trip details they have a better understanding of the quality hotels, meals and tour experiences. Just make sure you remind parents the itinerary is subject to change slightly as the planning progresses.
– Safety and Security: Academic Expeditions is committed to safety and security throughout the trip. Academic Expeditions provides hotel security each night to ensure student safety along with an Academic Expeditions logistics specialists at the hotel to ensure a quality experience with hotel, meals and unexpected medical issues. For example, if a student needs a prescription filled or becomes sick/injured, our logistics specialists will provide anything needed.
– Registration: Last but not least; this is essential! Show parents how to register for the trip. This will greatly decrease the amount of emails you receive asking questions later on. Even though Academic Expeditions is flexible with trip registration, I always find that it’s important to provide parents a registration deadline even if you plan on extending the registration deadline. Provide them with some urgency so they can make that commitment to sign up. It’s recommended to allow at least 1 month for registration and then extending it by a few weeks if necessary.
– Questions and Follow up: At the end of your meeting provide parents an opportunity to ask general questions. You can ask the whole group if you feel prepared to answer them or tell parents to hang back if they have any individual trip questions. Thank parents for coming to the meeting and provide a follow up within one week. It’s good to send an email to parents thanking them for coming and once again including the trip flyer and website information. I also send an email to any parent who might have missed the meeting opportunity.
About the contributor: Angela has also been teaching tennis for the past 20 years along with delivering rigorous history curriculum to her 8th students in Rochester for the past 12 years. She has always had a passion for teaching, learning and travel and has been organizing student adventures to Washington DC for many years.