Just because you have years of teaching under your belt does not mean you know what you are doing in the classroom. I can remember a science teacher at my school who had taught for many years. She may have known her subject area, but she did not know much about classroom management and discipline. Her students cruelly called her “Mrs. Doubtfire” behind her back. She might have had more success with her classes had she acted more like her movie counterpart. Her replacement the following year was a young teacher who looked like she was going to be thrown to the lions. She was tiny, but tough. In her classroom, it was “her way or the highway.” When I asked her where she learned how to teach, she gave credit to her student teaching experience.
I think EF’s free international training tours can be compared to student (or practice) teaching. New group leaders can learn how to tour before they go abroad with their own students. I wish EF offered the training tours before I led my first tour with the company. Learning through trial-and-error is hard work. Every new EF group leader has the opportunity to go on a free international training tour in Beijing, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, or Rome. According to their feedback, after returning home, 99% of new group leaders feel better prepared to lead their first EF tour. This outstanding rating makes me feel proud to be one of the many experienced group leaders who have been asked to share what they have learned after leading tours for many years.
Some new EF group leaders have led tours before with other travel companies and many have their own travel experiences to fall back on for guidance. Still, the training tours provide the opportunity to learn how an EF tour is run and the chance to learn more about touring with students. The new group leaders experience the same types of meals, hotels and sightseeing tours that their groups will on tour. During the full-day workshop, called “Touring 101”, they have the opportunity to learn more about EF, get advice and first-hand knowledge from two experienced group leaders, as well as discuss safety and tour expectations, two essential topics.
I never claim to be an expert during my presentations and I do not provide “one-size-fits-all” tips. I learn something new from each training tour, thanks to the staff members and to the new group leaders. Every new tour for me is like a new school year and I take nothing for granted. There is always a better way of doing things and you can find out by going on the training tour.
I recently returned home from the free international training tour that was held in Berlin. Group leaders were enthusiastic, interesting, and full of excellent questions. If they were my students, I would feel as if I had hit the jackpot. During my presentation, I encouraged the new group leaders to read and study EF’s Booking Conditions and to check out the Following the Equator travel blog (naturally!). There really is not enough time to cover everything and you do want to avoid “information overload.” I was able to answer several questions during the workshop, but many of the new group leaders asked me questions during the weekend in Berlin. Here are a few questions that came up during the training tour.
• “What should I do if I don’t want my students to drink on the tour?”
Setting expectations for student behavior is important in the classroom and on tour. Have a meeting with your students and their parents, go over EF’s Rules of the Road and your own as well, and have them sign a behavior contract you create for your tour. If your tour is school-sanctioned, then your school and district will require a no-alcohol policy. Make sure your students realize that breaking the rules might result in getting an early trip back home at their own expense, along with a possible school suspension or even expulsion.
• “What if my parents who are going on the tour want to room with their children?”
Adults are placed in twin rooms, but students room in triples or quads. Parents who want to share a hotel room with their children can pay for a twin-room supplement for their son or daughter. Parents can also contact EF’s Customer Service to see if they can pay for a family room that might be available in some hotels if they have more than one child on tour with them.
Come back tomorrow for more questions that I encountered during my tour in Berlin.