Frequently Asked Questions for Middle School Teachers
1. How and when should I book my trips?
Book as soon as you return to school in August. Booking is a first come first served process. My cell phone is always with me, as is my calendar so please call me during school hours. For many reasons, I prefer to book trips by phone rather than email. Email is the least effective way to get a trip booked. My number is 302-FISH (3474) and due to the nature of the program, I will answer the phone in class.
2. Where is the CFL?
We are docked at Marina Jack, downtown Sarasota. The slip is next to the tour boat Le Barge on the south end of the marina.
3. Are there restrooms and a place for a quick picnic near-by?
Yes. We are adjacent to Island Park. Many teachers arrive early so that their students can have a picnic lunch prior to going out on the boat. There are restrooms right there.
4. Can the students bring food and drink?
Please don’t bring food or drink on the boat. All marinas have resident rats and Marina Jack is no exception.
5. What material or concepts should I cover with my students before the trip?
The students should be familiar with photosynthesis, producers & consumers, estuaries, vertebrates, invertebrates, predators, and grass flats. If they have a grasp of those terms, the trip will be more educationally rewarding.
6. What will they see?
Lots, but please refer to the Middle School Page for a full description of what a typical excursion is like.
7. Are camera phones OK?
Camera phones are allowed as long as they’re used for pictures and not texting. I’ve been known to confiscate phones.
8. What should my students wear?
Be aware of the weather and if you are in doubt call me to get a weather update. Remember, it is cooler on the water than it is ashore. The kids should wear closed toe shoes as there is a possibility of a spiny fish dropping on their foot, or a sorting board dropping.
9. How many students may I bring?
The maximum number of students is 25.
10. May I bring a volunteer parent?
Volunteers (1 or 2) are welcome if they come prepared to help you and me. I have had volunteers who were in the way and more of a distraction than an asset. All volunteers must be vetted by PALS.
11. Does the CFL go out in bad weather?
No. We are very safety conscious. High winds or a Small Craft Advisory will keep the boat at the dock. It may be sunny and warm, but if there is an Advisory, we don’t go. If the forecast is bad, I will call you the day before to discuss the weather. If necessary, we will simply reschedule. During the initial booking conversation, I will ask for your cell number. After this crazy winter (2010), it became very obvious that I needed more than your extension at school or email. Hence, I need cell numbers.
12. Does my school pay for this trip?
No. Your school does not pay anything for this opportunity. The Sarasota County School Board has been very generous to the Carefree Learner over the past 32 years and pays for your class to get to the boat and back, as well as the trip itself.
13. What is expected of me while we are on the boat?
It goes without saying that even though she floats, the CFL is still a classroom. You will be expected to keep your students quiet when necessary and talk to any who are not cooperating. I divide the class into two groups when we are discussing and handling the sea life in the teaching aquarium. You will hopefully keep the group that is not at the teaching tank quiet.
14. What is done with a disruptive or uncooperative student?
There is a bench at the back of the boat next to the captain. That’s the “timeout bench”. I have had to use it only once this year.
15. Are the students allowed to stand up or walk around while the boat is underway?
There are parts of the trip where the kids need to stand up, but for safety reasons, walking around on the boat is prohibited. They will be instructed when they need to be seated.
16. How do I make arrangements for travel to Marina Jack?
The Transportation Department is very familiar with our program. You request a bus and driver from them, but make sure you give them at least three weeks’ notice.