Have you heard about the couch to 5K plans to get in-shape to run a 3.1-mile race? You can envision crossing the finish line, but you haven’t run further than a block (to catch a bus) in a year. In a similar way, perhaps you’ve daydreamed about taking your students to Washington D.C. and showing them monuments of the Presidents you’ve studied in class on the National Mall, walking through the U.S. Capitol building or the Smithsonian Museums, or seeing the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arlington National Cemetery, but you aren’t sure how to make this vision a reality? Well, here’s your Couch to the Capital guide.
This six-step guide to make your DC student trip dream a reality. The best part? These steps can all be taken in less than a month. So, let’s get started!
- Select Your Itinerary
The first step is to get comfy on your couch (yes, you don’t have to leave the couch yet, unlike the 5k training!) and decide where you might like to take your class. We have three pre-built Washington D.C. itineraries, but we are always happy to design a custom experience if you had something specific in mind.
- Discuss Your Vision with Your Educational Program Consultant
Once you have an idea in mind of what trip you’re interested in, or the custom trip you want to build, it’s time to get in touch with your Educational Program Consultant here at ACIS (for trips with ACIS America to the U.S. and Canada, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
We will walk you through what makes ACIS different (from our online payment system and student accounts that allow us to facilitate payment and student communication, to the tour managers that lead every step of your adventure and allow you to sit back and learn alongside your students, to our Service Guarantee) and the vision for your trip.
- Plan and Promote Your Recruitment Meeting
Next, it’s time to plan your first recruitment meeting. This is your chance to turn student excitement into tangible applicants for the trip. Group leaders who have traveled with us in the past have suggested holding meetings on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 6-7pm. Other teachers have had luck having multiple sessions in order to work around students’ schedules who are engaged in different sports or activities. You should start to build excitement for the trip in advance of the meeting, and perhaps even appoint a student ambassador to help promote within their class. Some teachers will even build social media pages to promote the trip.
For more tips on planning your meeting, check out our blog on the “10 Tips for Planning Your Recruitment Meeting.”
After you’ve set your recruitment meeting(s), it’s time to promote your meeting around the school. It will be important to send a letter home to parents, email the potential invitees leading up to the meeting and have an in-class reminder posted. It’s a good idea to ask people to RSVP to ensure that the group will be large enough to hold the meeting on the chosen day.
Even if this is your first time traveling, there may be another teacher at your school who has traveled with ACIS and can join you for the meeting or help promote it. We have Academic Travel Advisors (local representatives who support you and serve as mentors for the entirety of the your planning process) across the U.S. who may be located near your school, and we can also always explore having your ACIS Program Consultant join you as well. Your Program Consultant will provide you with a PowerPoint Presentation you can use for your meeting as soon as your itinerary is confirmed as well to best equip you with the information you should share to pre-empt what students and parents will want to know.
- Hold Your Meeting
Happy meeting day! This is your chance to get parents and students excited for the experience. You can find it helpful to have the room outfitted to match the destination with music, snacks, and décor to build excitement.
This meeting is the time to share not only the details about the trip, but why you chose the itinerary and think this experience will make an impact on your students. It’s likely the students will already be excited about the opportunity – this is your chance to get their parents excited as well. Having testimonials from students who have traveled before can be a great way share the difference these educational journeys make in students lives.
Here’s a handful of tips for what not to do during your meeting.
- Follow Up with Interested Students and Parents
The last item on your list of getting your trip off the ground is following up with meeting attendees and those that expressed interest but didn’t attend the meeting. This is the time to emphasize the lifechanging aspects of travel and re-address the answers to any questions that came up during the meeting.
At this point, parents likely have a good idea if their student will travel, so remind them of where to sign up and any deadlines. Your ACIS Tripsite page for your trip will be live to share 😊
- Pack Your Bags and Head to the Capital
Once you have your group of 20+ students ready to travel to D.C. by bus (or 15+ to travel by plane), your ready to go! Your Educational Travel Consultant will be with you every step of the way to confirm your itinerary and all the details of your student trip. Pack your bags and know that everything is taken care of and you are about to take your students on the educational journey of a lifetime.
Totally doable, right? And, we’re here to help every step of the way! And, teachers who travel with us are rewarded! First-time group leaders are invited to join us for our Training Weekend in Washington, D.C. to meet other teachers traveling with ACIS. Plus, you earn World Travel Rewards points based on the size of your group and the number of trips you lead – these points can be redeemed for spots on our Global Conferences, scholarships or even cash.
As one of our Group Leaders shares: “I have taken nine trips with students since 2007 and with each one I have seen changes in students, or they have shared with me how the experience positively impacted their lives.” – Pamela R., New York
We look forward to bringing your Washington DC student trip to life.