Learning about cacao in Costa Rica
Photo by the LEAF Project

Educator Planner Series, Part One: Designing the Perfect Program

Educator Planner Series, Part One: Designing the Perfect Program

May 11, 2018|K12 and Youth| by Molly O'Brien

 As the school year comes to a close, and the promise of summer vacation approaches, it may be tempting to pack away all thoughts concerning curriculum, lesson planning, and classroom activities. However, most of us are aware that while school may be out for the students, for educators the work never truly stops.

What if you could kick off the summer brainstorming plans for an educational travel program?

While it may seem overwhelming, difficult even, to get an international student program off the ground, with the help of a reliable, trusted company and this checklist of questions to consider, the process can become exciting rather than daunting.

The “Why”: Deciding the focus of your educational travel program

Types of Programming at a glance:

Sample Activities:

  • Earth science and geology
  • Biology and natural history
  • Marine science
  • Biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems
  • Environmental science and conservation
  • “Voluntourism” and community service
  • Human geography
  • Cultural studies and foreign language
  • Field research and investigation
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Consultation with naturalists and scientists
  • On-site observation and demonstration
  • Interactive workshops
  • Discussion, journaling, and reflection
  • Community service projects
  • Immersion in local culture
Questions to contemplate:

Focus/activities:

-Which types of ecosystems do you want to investigate? Rainforest, wetlands, desert, highlands, etc.

-What kind of cultural opportunities would you like to explore?

-What types of environmental and immersive activities would you like to include in your field experience?

Academics:

-What are your academic objectives for this program?

-How will this program tie in to your curriculum?

-Will the leader(s) provide educational content during the program? If so, will you require any special equipment?

-Do you have any contacts in the country that you’d like to incorporate into the program?

These are all questions to help you begin brainstorming ideas for your program, and will also serve as good preparation if and when you seek approval from the school board.

The “Who, W​hat, Where, and When”: Ironing out the logistics

This is where the idea of the trip becomes a reality, and now that you’ve answered the “why” you can begin thinking about the details like when and where you want to travel. This is also when you may want to begin calling your travel consultant, who can help you answer these questions and create a program that balances all of your needs.

  • Where do you want to travel?

 Many times educators already have an idea of which country they want to travel to; however if you don’t already have a destination selected knowing what type of educational program you’re interested in will help you select your             destination. Oftentimes educational objectives can be accomplished in multiple locations, and a travel consultant can you help decide the perfect destination to balance budget, educational objectives, travel season etc.

  • What are your preferred dates of travel? To begin you only need an estimate of when you’d like to travel. Consider whether you’re working within a set period of school vacation, or are your dates flexible?
  • What size group do you anticipate? How many co-leaders/chaperones do you plan to include? You don’t need to have an exact headcount but having an idea whether the group will be small or large (5 vs. 50 students) will give you an idea of how many co-leaders you will need.
  • What are your price expectations? Again, you don’t need to have an exact figure but ironing out an estimated price range, (i.e. what is your maximum allowance?) will help you determine other trip logistics.
  • What kind of physical activity would be best for your group? Light, moderate, heavy?
  • What accommodations would best suit your group? Rustic, moderate, luxury?

Now that you've designed the ideal program you're well on your way. Check back for our upcoming second installment of our educator series on developing a trip proposal and getting school board approval.