As a 6th form, college or university teacher, tutor or educator you want to offer the best experiences to your students. No matter your subject area, getting the right mix of teaching and learning techniques is crucial to help your students achieve their academic, vocational and personal potential. This means planning opportunities for learning both in- and outside the classroom.
We spoke to Anne Markland at Preston’s College on her return from her 7th Performing Arts trip to New York to find out what the highlights of this trip are.
Why do you choose to visit New York?
We’ve never had a bad trip to New York. There are great options for shows and a great choice of workshops for the students. Also the grid layout of New York is ideal and easy to follow so it’s a safe place and we can allow the students a good amount of freedom.
Because I’ve been so many times now I’m well versed in how to run the trip and what there is to do. When we arrive there I walk them straight up to Times Square where we have a group meal together and then some free time for orientation. I give them options to do what they want to do in their free time on the trip.
Why do you choose a tour operator to organise your trip and why choose FHT?
I use a tour operator because I’m pressed for time and I need to feel safe that I’ve got the best deal for my students, starting with the journey to the airport. This is a lot of money – we took 41 students this time – and I need to feel safe about the investment, that I have the security of ABTA and ATOL backing.
I’ve been working with Will at FHT now for the last 5 years and I know he can get the best deal for me. I have to go through a procurement process to get the right price and Will always comes up with the best price. I love working with Will and Kirsty and I know they will organise the best package for me.
Why did you choose to see Les Misérables and Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon has become such an iconic show and I believe it’s a show you need to see in America as the audience reactions will be very different to those in the UK.
I also chose Les Misérables because 12 days before our trip I directed this show at the College, so it was very fitting to see it on Broadway.
What were the highlights of the workshops?
The dance workshop was amazing as it was led by a choreographer who had been mentored by the great Bob Fosse!
The best bit about the acting workshop which was based on the Book of Mormon was that we had a talk back at the end with a performer from the show. We then went to watch the show that night and saw him in it.
I always include workshops in the trip. The great thing about them is that the students can put on their CV’s that they have attended a Broadway workshop.
What additional visits/sightseeing did you cover in New York?
I took them on the Staten Island ferry which is a really good way to see the Statue of Liberty for free. After that we walked to the 911 Memorial. After this they also get the chance to shop at Century 21, the big discount store, which is close by.
As my students are all 16+ I allow them to break off to do some of their own visits such as different shows, workshops and sights. For example some students went to see a special performance of the Tony award winning show The Secret Garden at the Lincoln Center. They were really excited about this as it was only on for 2 nights and they got the opportunity to have a photo with one of the main stars afterwards. I always advise them to get their tickets for any additional shows from Times Square when they are there. When there’s just one or two of you, its cheaper to get your tickets there.
When they have this free time I never allow them to go off in groups of smaller than 3 students and they all have the teachers contact numbers.
As a teacher what do you think are the benefits of taking your students on this trip?
We open this trip up across the College so lots of different students sign up. This year we had dancers, actors, musical theatre students, a media studies student and some special needs students. It becomes a massive bonding trip for them. I see them grow up whilst they are there. They can be confident at home but when they get there its another matter. They develop a maturity.
Everywhere we go we get complimented on the students and their behaviour. On the flight back, the Virgin Airline crew found out we were a Performing Arts group and they asked us to sing whilst up in the air. The Captain even came out to listen to us!
This year was such a happy trip – it was the best trip I’ve done. Everything about it was great. The bus driver on the way to Heathrow was great fun, the staff at Heathrow were amazing and the Virgin crew were fantastic. On our way home they even gave us bottles of water and bags of crisps for our long coach journey back to Preston.
Have the students said what their highlights were?
They loved the workshops and also the shows. Another highlight was the freedom they were given – they were quite surprised that I was relaxed about giving them free time and curfews. Also they appreciated getting to know different people on the trip.
Do you have some advice for anyone thinking of taking a student trip for the first time?
Just speak to one of our tour solvers who will organise it all for you and get you the best deal for your students. Also be organised and plan a firm itinerary.