by Lance Harvey

Pre-Screening Students for the Tour

Should you invite only students with great behavior records?

Depending on the type of tour- school sponsored or non-sponsored, you may have the ability to decide who to invite and whether to impose a screening criteria based on merit or a qualification threshold based on behavior and/or academics. As a Tour Director, you need to feel comfortable with your decision and your ability to deal with each student should a problem arise on tour.

One of the greatest teacher rewards of leading the tour, however, is being able to impact your students in ways the classroom cannot. This tour may be the only opportunity of this magnitude your students will ever receive.

The tour has a propensity to change lives

Veteran tour leaders will attest that the tour has given them a chance to see students in a new light. So many students will behave completely different outside of the school environment and it may be the exact opportunity a student needed. Shy and reserved students frequently find their voice. Attention seeking and disruptive students often become cooperative and serious on the tour.

Use the opportunity as an incentive for good behavior

In the event you do not feel comfortable making a blanket invitation to the entire grade level, try to set up a criteria that permits the students to feel they have earned their spot without the stigma of their past behavior. If a student is given a clean slate, the tour can become an incentive and reward for better behavior. Finding ways to make the tour an empowering experience can really help motivate the student at school and during the fundraising drives leading up to the tour.

Carefully consider invitation requirements

In three decades, I have heard hundreds of teachers recall countless stories of this tour was the spark that changed the student that was headed down a bad path. It is critical you strike a balance in the invitation process that will give the students who truly need this tour the opportunity to attend without undermining the cohesiveness of your tour group. Some tour leaders make

Communicate your concerns before they register

If you reluctantly allow a student to travel, take the opportunity to speak with that student and their parents and come to some clear agreements. First, set a positive tone and let the student know that this invitation represents your belief in them and your enthusiasm to see them participate in such an important and fun trip.  Second, communicate the perceived concerns and make sure the student understands the consequences if they are to violate your trust on the tour.

Get it in writing!

The best practice is to always establish your specific behavior expectations and the consequences of violating the rules in writing and signed by both the parent and student. Make certain the contract includes your authority to send the child home early from the tour at the parent’s expense. While this should only be used as a last resort, you want to establish not only the proper tone with the student, but you want to avoid any potential liabilities in the event you must send the child home for the safety of themselves or the group.

What Do You Think ?

Please share your thoughts and comments about how to best screen students for the tour in a way that permits every student a fair opportunity to earn this opportunity. Additionally, please let us know about any helpful contracts or agreements you have students and parents sign to ensure a smooth tour. 

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