Parliament House Excursion
This is a description of my experiences from observing an excursion from a teacher’s point of view, compared to the way I am used to viewing them, which is from the point of view of a student. In this report I first describe the context of the excursion, who was involved, where it was and what its purpose was. Following this I rationalise why I think this excursion is relevant as a professional portfolio item, demonstrating how I have developed as a professional, as well as an overview of student learning. I conclude with a final reflection on the excursion.
On Wednesday May 12, 2010 approximately 55 year six students, four teachers and five parent helpers departed their school at 8am for a 90 minute bus ride to Parliament House. The students were studying ‘Civics and Citizenship’ at the time. At Parliament House, Martin Dixon gave us a one hour tour and detailed explanation of several rooms, including the green room, the red room and the library. After Parliament House we then went to IMAX Theatre to see the Movie ‘Shackleton’. After IMAX the students and staff had lunch at a nearby park, and then returned to school by 3pm.
How the item demonstrates my development as a beginning teacher:
Having only seen an excursion from a student’s point of view before, this experience has taught me a lot about the teacher’s involvement in organising excursions. I found it beneficial that prior to and during the excursion, the teachers I was working with explained many things to me and gave me a lot of advice about organising excursions.
What I have learnt about excursions that I did not know prior to my professional placement:
- Teachers need to ensure the cost of the excursion comes to the expected cost and if it higher, you must consult the principal for permission to allow the excursion to go ahead.
- Teachers need to make sure every child returns their indemnity form prior to the day, as well as payment. It is important for teachers to stress the need for students to return their permission slips in the week prior to the excursion, until all students have handed them in. The reason for this is that you cannot take a child without an indemnity form because if they get sick or injured the ambulance officers can not treat them without the form.
- Teachers need to be fully organised at least a day before the excursion. My supervising teacher went to collect two of the senior school first aid kits the day before the excursion. Another year level at the school had borrowed them and not returned them. He had to stay back at school that afternoon until he found them, and only ended up finding one.
- It is important for teachers to call up the place of the excursion prior to the day to confirm their appointment time. Luckily my supervising teacher did this, because Parliament House had us scheduled to attend an hour earlier than we had thought. This meant that we would have to depart an hour earlier as well. To make the excursion, the students originally would have been able to catch the bus to school like they usually do but the new time required them to arrive before their busses would. This meant that my supervising teacher had to hand out an urgent notice for every student to take home to their parents, and ensure that the parents all got the notice.
- Teachers need to know final numbers of students attending so that they can work out how many busses are necessary and who will be travelling on each bus. They also need to work out how many parent helpers are needed and who these helpers will be.
- On the actual day of the excursion (and prior to it) it is important for teachers to emphasise instructions so that everyone understands these and that no one goes in the wrong direction or does the wrong thing, to prevent students from becoming lost.
This experience has not only taught me a lot about the planning and organisation that must go into a successful excursion, but I have also learnt a lot about Parliament House and the Victorian and Australian Parliament, as well as Shackleton and his extraordinary achievements.
Overview of student learning:
What the students learnt from this excursion:
- The history of Parliament House, what each room is used for, who is allowed in certain rooms, the roles of the members of Parliament and the past and present members of Parliament.
- The extraordinary journey Ernest Shackleton and his crew went on from 1914-1916.
- On the day following the excursion, my supervising teacher asked his students to write up a report on the excursion. The students needed to explain the day’s events by including a ‘who, what, when, where and why’ and they also had to include the answers to a number of questions their teacher had devised within it. This report provided documentation for my supervising teacher, about how much his students had learnt from the excursion.
This experience has made me aware of how much work a teacher has to put into the planning and organisation of an excursion. I was able to see the excursion from both a teacher’s and student’s point of view, and as a result learnt an extensive amount about the teacher’s role, as well as about the Victorian and Australian Parliament and Ernest Shackleton. The preparation necessary for a successful excursion is extensive. This planning is worth it though, so that students can be provided with the opportunity to experience things directly and learn from them, such as a tour of Parliament House.