New Jersey Teacher
How often does this happen? Your child tells you that they have a field trip coming up, so you ask them for the permission slip. They don’t have it. You ask again the next day, and it’s in their locker. You ask again, and they have it… crumpled at the bottom of their backpack, making it all but impossible to sign your name. Finally, they remember to bring the permission slip to school before forgetting the folder they need in their backpack, which is in their locker.
Online field trip payments would be way easier.
You don’t have to worry about having your child transfer the permission slip to you, nor do you have to worry about the payment going back to the teacher. And if the money gets lost — which has happened to me as a student — your child doesn’t have to worry about getting you or the teacher upset.
Most of these websites work just as well on tablets, laptops, mobile phones, and PCs, which means as long as you have some sort of technology, you are good to go. And, unlike paper permission slips which are likely to get thrown out, digital permission slips can be reread and reviewed at any point in time. The only people authorized to view these permission slips and payment forms are you, your significant other, and school personnel such as your child’s teacher(s), principal, and nursing staff.
Digital slips are also far easier to use for documentation purposes. It is easy to lose a piece of paper, but there is no way to lose an email confirmation. Additionally, if a parent puts an inaccurate piece of information on the digital slip or signs the wrong date, there are easy ways for teachers to contact the parents through messaging systems. The parents would get notice immediately, and be able to respond at their leisure.
Digital permission slips and online payments are, without a doubt, beneficial for parents. But, you may be a little skeptical as to what exactly occurs with an online payment.
Here’s how online field trip payments work: First, your child’s teacher assigns a particular website that they are using. Often, parents will need to create a username and password. Most of these websites are free to use for parents, so there is no need to pay for a membership. Some websites don’t even need a username and password, because they use a code assigned by specific teachers.
After clicking the link that your child’s teacher sent out, you can pay for the field trip using either a debit or credit card. Some websites offer other options, such as taking money directly out of your bank account.
Many websites can be used for payments beyond field trips. For example, athletic equipment, school lunches, and tuition can all be paid using a website. Depending on the particular one, a parent can pay for even more, such as school dances and other assorted school events.
To begin with, there were not enough copies of the permission slip made. Due to a lack of paper in the district, about 30 kids did not get their permission slips across the entire sixth grade, five of whom were in my homeroom. When there finally was enough paper for the 30 to be given out, I had seven kids claim they never got a slip for the trip.
Next, when students gave in the money, the teachers were supposed to mark it off each student that brought it in. Due to the nature of my teaching schedule, I did not get a chance to do this until 5th period, several hours later each day. On more than one occasion, a parent signed the permission slip and gave the money, but did not write down the name of the child. It took quite a while at times to find the child and have them write their name.
The trip to Medieval Times cost $25 for students. The principals did not provide change for students, so when a student came in with $40, for instance, it was a struggle to provide change for them. I did not carry cash around with me at the time, so often, I had to send students to different classrooms and ask those teachers for change.
Occasionally, I would get a check for the field trip. This was, by far, the easiest method of payment… except for when the checks were not filled out correctly. The check would then have to go home with the student, have to be rewritten, and then given back to me. Though this seems simple, one particular sixth grader found a way to forget about it until a few days after the deadline for money. He still was allowed to go on the trip, however.
Finally, several disorganized teachers lost money for the trip that students had given them! This caused stress for both the teachers (and if you are reading this, you already know how busy teachers are and how extra headaches are not enjoyed). It turns out that the non-math teacher miscounted several times because she was teaching while counting.
I felt stressed writing those last few paragraphs and reliving that. If my school at the time had used an online field trip payment website instead of traditional cash and checks, all of this would have been avoided. Parents would have signed up, paid, received a receipt, and that would have been that.
Permission slips are standard and required for high school field trips in the United States. Yet, what about high schools in other countries? As a teacher who has taught in Europe many years and in China for one year, I went on many field trips outside of the U.S. What do they do different and why?
The educator’s task to arrange a field trip, get all the parent permission slips, then deal with students outside of the classroom and school environment never crossed my mind doing my graduate work.
One thing that is rarely ever covered in new teacher training is how to do what many of us in the profession consider to be “the easy stuff”. Things like how to use the copier, how to set up a classroom, and how to create and send out a movie permission slip.