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Field Trips are Good for Adults too and Great for Professional Development

I recently sent out a newsletter about why field trips are a good idea for adults and a great tool for professional development. Read more from that newsletter here:

Some of my most memorable experiences of school and my time aftershcool are of the field trips I took! Tons of research reports that field trips can make learning more engaging, they can deepen social skills, expose young people to things they may not have known about or thought they had access to, and also provide the opportunity for young people to make real-life connections to what they are learning.

Why limit all of these great things to young people? As adults, our learning can also deepen when have the opportunity to make real-life connections, when we can apply what we are learning in meaningful ways and when we can strengthen and expand our networks or access to information and opportunity. These are a few reasons why we include field trips in the professional development strategies we facilitate. Whether it's hosting the monthly Sandbox in a local coffee shop, or visiting various youth programs through one of professional learning communities we facilitate or with our own staff to expand our networks or resources.

Before heading out on your field trip, provide some context. For example, before I took a group up to visit the Wooden Boat Factory, I had them watch a brief video about their work and peruse their website. This allows staff to ask informed questions. Maybe you have them do a 'scavenger hunt' while they are at the location, where they have to meet certain people, or gather certain information about the program. Just the same way you would if you were taking a group of youth. Being intentional about the experience you want your staff to have is 50% of what makes it meaningful.

There are SO many places to go on a field trip in Philly, and quite a number of them don't have to cost very much, if anything at all! The Out of School Time Resources Center (OSTRC) used to have a great guide for field trips, including information about organizations that would "bring the field trip to you." Since the OSTRC was adopted by Foundations, Inc. I'm not sure, to be honest where that document lives. Here is a link to an old version (2016).

Below are some examples of potential field trips for you staff that would also make for great professional development opportunities.


Wachovia Education Resource Center at the Art Museum Even if you don’t have a lot of teaching artists on staff or even do a lot of arts programming, you’ll want to check out this incredible FREE resource. They offer the following for teachers (formal and informal):

  • Free workshops for K–12 educators & pre-service teachers

  • Inspiration and support for designing arts-integrated lessons

  • Strategies for using art & technology in the classroom

  • Free teacher resources created by Museum staff

  • Access to poster sets, teaching kits & other art education materials

The staff there gets excited about the opportunity to put lesson plans and materials together. Go check them out!

Go visit another OST program! There are H-U-N-D-R-E-D-S of youth programs in our city. Go for a walk with your staff in the neighborhood where your program take place, and count how many other youth programs there are within .25 miles. You might be surprised. And then stop on your way back at your local library. The Free Libraries of Philadelphia are FILLED with all kinds of resources; computers, maker spaces; some even have a café. They are not the old, dark places where the librarian used to come around and ‘shush’ you if you were too loud. Many have recently undergone serious make overs!

The interior of the renovated Logan branch library in North Philadelphia features a living room-like seating area and bright colors.

Co-working spaces: Often have state of the art conference rooms and meeting rooms of all sizes. To use them, in some cases you must have a membership, but some co-working sites offer day rates or even sometimes free access to some of their spaces. Here are a few co-working spaces that have popped up in the last few years:

Visit a Board Member’s office. Some of us have board members that work in fancy or interesting places; take your staff to visit a board member at his or her office. It’s a great way for staff to learn more about the board (at least that particular board member) and, depending on where the office is may expose staff to a new business or organization or a new part of the city.

Outward Bound Offers a wide range of activities for youth and adults grounded they excel at facilitating team-building experiences. Go to them, or have them come to you!

Pendel Hill Pendle Hill is a Quaker study, retreat, and conference center welcoming all for Spirit-led learning and community, located in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. They are known for their caring and professional staff, delicious food, beautiful grounds, and proximity to major transit hubs. Groups of 5-80 persons can easily be accommodated overnight in a variety of spaces on our grounds. Larger groups (up to 130 persons) can be accommodated for presentations, lectures, and other events. They host conferences, retreats, and meetings for many different groups.

City Hall often has fantastic local art as does the School District of Philadelphia. And both locations are free!

If you're still not sure where to go, ask your staff. Then, get out there!

Need help coordinating it? We can help.

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