Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cal Ripken:: Hall of Famer & Rosemont's Cooperstown Visit

There was a blizzard the day we visited Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Our docents, who were supposed to conduct various educational programs, couldn't make it! After a wonderful introduction, the students scattered to find the various exhibits that had been discussed. It was particularly gratifying that the girls found baseball to be quite interesting; a few even stopped to view the Cal Ripken exhibit (sorry about the flash).

It's a marvelous museum and it was unfortunate that we could not experience their many curriculum-based (Thematic Units) programs. The exhibits are wonderfully displayed and presented.

Although two were inducted into the Class of 2007 and these students would probably know more about Tony Gwynn because of his ties to Southern California, this post centers more on Cal Ripken.

Cal Ripken is one of my sports heroes. His humility, decency, family values, and work ethic have always appealed to me. Because of all the years I watched him play at Oriole's Park at Camden Yards, I cannot switch to the Washington Nationals. This Virginian actually supports a Maryland team!

I've since followed his progress through the development of Cal Ripken Baseball in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Two days ago one of my neighbors told me that his nephew's team had just won the Virginia state championship in Babe Ruth Baseball. I looked up Babe Ruth Baseball and there was Cal Ripken, again!

Over 75,000 people (breaking a record) made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown to see Cal Ripkin and Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Cal Ripkin's speech was under 16 minutes and here are a few excerpts:

He began his talk by recalling a teaching session with one of those youngster, a 10-year-old.

"I was teaching him hitting," Ripken said. "He was starting to have success and feeling quite proud of himself, and he asked me, 'So, did you play baseball?' "I said, 'Yes I played professionally.' "He said, 'Oh, yeah, for what team?' "I said, 'I played for the Baltimore Orioles for 21 years.' "He said, 'What position?' "I said, 'Mostly shortstop and a little third base at the end.' "He began to walk away and looked back and said, 'Should I know you?' That certainly puts all of this in perspective."

"It took me a while to realize that baseball is one part of my life," Ripken said. "It was never more clear to me than when I had children. I realized that the secret of life is life, and a bigger picture came in focus. Games were and are important, but people and how we have impact on them are most important. We are the ambassadors for the future. Just as a baseball player wants to make his mark on the game and leave it a little better than he found it, we should all try to make this world a better place for the next generation."

"As years passed, it became clear to me that kids see all, not just some of your actions but all," Ripken said. "Whether we like or not, we big leaguers are role models. The only question is, will it be positive or will it be negative? Should we put players up on pedestals and require that they take responsbility? No. But we should encourage them to use their influence positively to help build up and develop the young people who follow the game. Sports can play a big role in teaching values and principles. Just think. Teamwork, leadership, work ethic and trust are all part of the game, and they are also all factors in what we make of our lives."

"As I experience another new beginning with this induction, I can only hope that all of us, whether we have played on the field or been fans in the stands, can reflect on how fortunate we are and can see our lives as new beginnings that allow us to leave this world a bit better than when we came into it."

"I know some fans look at the streak as a special accomplishment, and while I appreciate that I always looked at it as just showing up for work every day. As I look out at this audience I see thousands of people who do the same - teachers, police officers, mothers, fathers, business people and many others. You all may not receive the accolades I have throughout my career, so I'd like to take the time out to salute all of you for showing up, working hard and making the world a better place. Thank you all."

What a man!

Congratulations to both of these fine sportmen!

Damsel in Distress! I'm in Need of IT Blogspot Assistance!

My link lists on my sidebar are much too long! I would like to know how to get them into a little box so that people can scroll down. If you can help an essentially computer illiterate damsel in distress, I would be most grateful.


EHT helped me with my WW and TT blogrolls, but I need to find a way to collapse my lables, ETM, and Museum links.

The Tour Marm

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Figure It Out Friday 072707

What is this? Where do you think I am?

The answer here

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wordless Wednesday 072607

For the answer, click here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lonely Posts ISO Comments

There they are, just sitting there, lonely and craving for some attention. They feel frightfully abandoned. Even a bit of acknowledgment, rave or rant, might get these posts out of their doldrums. Some of these wallflowers have the potential to be the belle of the ball. There are also the posts listed in the Tour Marm's First 100.

I shall be away for a bit and I shall leave these posts in your care:


Live It Bethel - Underground Railroad Experience

Sgt. Thomas Kirkland

Cal Ripken: Hall of Famer and Rosemont's Cooperstown Visit

Did You Hear the One About the Polish Strike in Jamestown?

Figure It Out Friday: Portland Head Light, Longfellow, & LaFayette

Museum Monday Answer - Lincoln's Coat and Brooks Brothers

Figure It Out Friday - Moon Rock

Women's Titanic Memorial

Postings about student tour management, challenges, professional ethics, and tricks of the trade:

Teacher Stipends and Bonuses for Student Tours

Interpreting Monuments,Memorials, and Museums for Students - 1st Installment -Forward

How I Manage My Student Tours in the Field

Educational Student Tour Ethics - Caveat Emptor

Broadway Shows: Teaching Moments

Have Gum, No Travel

Getting Personal

A Bittersweet Fourth of July

Lost and Found

The Tour Marm in the Twilight Zone

A Note on the Craig Ferguson Posts:

These posts get the most number of 'hits' from his legions of fans, who no doubt, are disappointed to discover that they relate to history, tourism, and discussion of moral fibre. While my latest one is a review of his show, it is actually a Washington, DC tour itinerary. The one before discusses the origins of honorary citizenship , but his fans (and many of the more visceral comments were deleted) just didn't 'get it'. My very first posting on him was about a very personal choice he made based on his own life experience.

I'll be back to check up on these posts!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Saw a Man Walk on the Moon

I was fortunate to have had two sets of wonderful parents each of whom contributed to my education and instilled within me an appreciation of history.

In my posting about poetry, there was a passage concerning Apollo XI and my father's reaction to this momentous event. At the time of the first moonwalk, I was visiting with my father's family at my Great Aunt Hopie's cottage in Gloucester Banks, Virginia.

But it was my stepfather's reaction that truly put this into perspective for me.

My stepfather was born in New York City on July 2, 1902. He was the first of three children born to Russian Jewish immigrants, and before they prospered and moved uptown to fashionable Harlem, he lived in a six story walk-up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

He was older than my grandfather!

When I returned home to New York from Virginia, we sat down for our first supper together after two weeks of separation. I enjoyed our suppers because it was the time I could talk about the day's events with my parents. My stepfather tended to sit quietly and listen to me ramble on; he made Calvin Coolidge seem talkative! However, when he did say something, it was usually well-considered and sometimes hysterically funny; there was a great deal of wisdom connected with his observations, Yiddish anecdotes, and biographical sketches. It's a Jewish tradition to teach with parables and jokes.

I spoke of my father and his family, the places we visited, and my first 'boyfriend'.

Before my mother could get in a word, he asked me, "Is that all you remember from your visit? Isn't there something you've forgotten?"

"No. I don't think so."

"What were you doing on July 20th and 21st?"

"I think we were in Gloucester."

"I saw a man walk on the moon."

"Oh, that! So did I!"

"But it wasn't important enough to you to mention it. You didn't remember the date. You took it for granted."

And I think he was right. Being one of the later Baby Boomers, I was born into the Space Age and it was a part of my early education. I knew the names of the original seven astronauts and the ill-fated Gus Grissom was one of my favorites. In fact, my mother allowed me to stay home the day before my birthday (her personal present to me) in order to watch the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, launched into space. In retrospect, my mother displayed her wisdom in that she thought I would learn more by watching the launch than being in the classroom. I do recall vividly snuggling up with her in bed and listening to Walter Cronkite describe every detail. The stakes were high and there was a great deal of drama. Years later, my cousin Wilbur Bailey, who had taught Tom Wolfe, lent me his autographed copy of, The Right Stuff', and it brought back the memories from my perspective. The movie from that book is one of my favorites. But in reality, on July 20th and 21st and all during the week, my father, stepmother, brother, and sister were glued to the TV set watching the Eagle land; Neil Armstrong's first step; Buzz Aldrin following him; Collins orbiting; and finally, the safe landing and recovery back on earth. I simply neglected to tell him in my initial outburst concerning the events of past few weeks.

I was taken aback; he had never admonished me like that before. He looked at me intently as he had never looked at me before and very slowly and deliberately repeated, "I saw a man walk on the moon!". It was time for me to be quiet and pay attention.

He proceeded to explain, "You don't understand. When I was born, I lived in a tenement without running water or electricity. It was a year before the Wright brothers' flight. A telephone was a novelty; there was one at the corner candy store and they would send someone to yell up at your apartment when you got a call; it was an event and the neighbors would crowd around! Cars? Cars! Only rich people had cars. Trucks? My father had two horse-drawn wagons and a few pushcarts. And New York was was the height of civilization in respect to where most of the neighborhood came from. My own parents came from a farm five miles from the nearest shtetl."

"I was too young for World War I, but I remember being fascinated by airplanes and reading all about them. You couldn't imagine how thrilled I was to see my first plane flying over me. It was not a usual sight when I was a boy. Lindbergh. Now that was a hero! From New York to Paris in a little over a day! Alone! New York went wild. I was one of the thousands who saw him ride down Broadway during the ticker-tape parade. And then I remember seeing the film, Hell's Angels; I must have seen it twenty times. Jules Verne, Buck Rogers, that was fantasy; so who knew it would be reality within thirty years!"

He paused and shook his head. "I saw a man walk on the moon!"

He continued. "Silent movies were just beginning. Then there was radio, talkies, television. Television! What a miracle! In the past few years they have even invented big machines that can think, and now transistors. Jets and rockets! And we can even see these astronauts in space on the television, and they can talk to us!"

"In my 67 years, we have gone from gaslight to space. My generation was born in the Dark Ages and within this one generation, we have gone further faster than all other preceding generations. It's like going from the Stone Age right into the 1700's, in just 67 years! From now on, it is not, 'if', it is, 'when'. " He pointed his finger at me. "Never forget the date. Never forget the names of these men. These are true heroes who made history. Better than Columbus."

Neil Armstrong's, "One small leap for a man, one giant leap for mankind ", was indeed personally meaningful to this once reticent man. Up until that point, I had no idea how deeply passionate he was.

He stopped short. "Of course, there was Hitler and the atomic bomb. Maybe we're going too fast." He brightened, "On the other hand, I feel privileged to have been born in this century and in this country."

"I saw a man walk on the moon." He lit his cigar, and sat back self-satisfied.

There was nothing else to say and I proceeded to help my mother clear the dishes.

This was to be our second most important dinner together* because it was the start of a much closer, adult relationship. My stepfather and I would spend a great deal of time talking about his life, all the events he had witnessed, as well as the people he had seen or met. He had a lived a full and exciting life that witnessed so much history and American popular culture.

As a treat, the two of us went together to the ticker-tape parade in New York that August, in honor of the Apollo XI astronauts.

He died in 1972.

Dad, I haven't forgotten.

* The first dinner was when he asked a six year-old girl for permission to marry her mother.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday XIII 071907

Thirteen Favorite Films Based (Loosely or Accurately) on American History

How the West Was Won

The Longest Day

Gone With the Wind

Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Sargeant York

Ghosts of Mississippi

The Alamo (1960)

Inherit the Wind



The Right Stuff

The Grapes of Wrath


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mr. Ferguson Goes to Washington

Mr. Ferguson Goes to Washington

Review of Craig Ferguson's Appearance at the Warner Theatre 14 July 2007

First Visit to DC

It was a riot!

People were rolling in the aisles and sides were splitting, notwithstanding, that we were all still sitting firmly in our seats!

Initially, the two comedians were unsure whether the audience really liked them.

Welcome to Washington, DC, the home of the politest and least-responsive audience in North America! (And that includes Canada.)

They needn't have worried, the Warner Theatre, which literally is a stone's throw from The White House, was jam-packed!

The only ‘heckler’ was a lovely lady in the front orchestra who reminded Randy Kagan, after his diatribe against the French, that it was Bastille Day. (Like he cared!) The loudest outburst came from the only Canadian in the audience. The only groupie, was a another bold and gutsy, middle-aged lady who demurely walked up to the stage and placed a Beanie Baby on it as an offering to Mr. Ferguson. (He noted that it took courage to do that!) There were only ten middle-aged (and older) people waiting at the door for him to come out. No bouncers were needed. Blame it on Homeland Security: no one gets out of line here!

Despite the well-dressed (except for the gentleman in the front row sporting a incongruous Hawaiian shirt, which became a fitting target for Randy's slings and arrows; surely this had to be a set-up, only tourists or Parrotheads wear Hawaiian shirts in DC!), predominantly WASP audience with natural Botox-like expressions and demonstrating restrained applause, we all truly appreciated and enjoyed the rollicking, bawdy, off-the-cuff, silly stream-of-consciousness comedy as served up by warm-up comic Randy Kagan and TV's Craig Ferguson. It was great to be naughty, even vicariously, and tantamount to a contact high; a truly welcomed relief from the usually PC world of scripted politics.

Since this is a PG blog, I cannot go into the substance of the subject matter or serve as a spoiler for those who will be attending subsequent performances around North America'; suffice to say that if you are from France, Belgium, Quebec, Hollywood (LA), Scotland, or if you are gay, well-endowed (male or female), a Scottish mother, lusting after Sean Connery, an ex-wife, contemplating birthing classes, in rehab, on drugs, a cigarette smoker, Paris Hilton, or Tom Cruise, watch out, they take no prisoners! (Thankfully, there was nothing political and I hope that Mr, Ferguson continues this policy even after he becomes a citizen.)

Ferguson did wax lyrical concerning his love for this country, although it was coupled with the mixed message that the initial thoughts about US citizenship were a result of his introduction to drugs and rock ‘n roll concerts by his American cousins. (Tsk. Tsk Tsk.) The story of his own quest, upon his return to Scotland, for a drug to enhance the enjoyment of his favorite rock band's concert was a knock-out!. I hope for his sake,that no one from the INS was in attendance to hear that! (Do I need to put a personal disclaimer against illegal substances in here?)

Never Visited Washington, DC

What astounded me was the fact that Craig Ferguson, in the thirteen years he has lived in this country, had never visited the capital of the United States before! One would think that he would have gone on one of his famous road trips on I95 (DC is at least five miles off I95) from New York or Connecticut and toured here. (I think he's been to Colonial Williamsburg, though.)

However, since he has applied for citizenship (see posting) )and is awaiting not-so-very-patiently for the processing of dilatory paperwork, he should jump into a Ford (the car of choice and sponsor as advertised on his tee shirt) and head for DC and Virginia, when it is not as hot and humid (or ‘soupy’ as he referred to our weather). October and November are the best months; stay away from Easter and Spring Break! Although, a road trip to DC on his Indian motorcycle for Rolling Thunder during Memorial Day Weekend might be appropriate for a truly American experience..

To appreciate Washington, DC to the fullest and navigate easily, he would need a good, flexible itinerary and a knowledgeable and engaging personal tour guide, both of which I could provide. I am, after all, an educational student tour designer and professional guide. (If he can advertise Ford, I can advertise myself!)

A Tour of Washington, DC Designed Expressly for Craig Ferguson

My plan for him would be to go in chronological order:

Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall both might be a good prelude as they represent our colonial roots, the American Revolution, early republic, and the documents that define our national identity. (Gunston Hall is the home of George Mason, the Father of our Bill of Rights.)

Therefore, it should be obvious that the National Archives (NARA) be next on the itinerary. He could get up front and personal with a copy (from 1297, not 1215) of the Magna Carta that spawned the American Charters of Freedom which includes the original Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The NARA always have a couple of good exhibits.

Touring the Three Branches of our Government:

To be a model citizen and have an understanding of civics, it is necessary to learn about the three branches of government; visiting the buildings and observing government in action gives us a tangible connection to our elected officials and an awareness of the responsibilities we have as voters.

The White House is a tricky place to tour as he would either have to contact his Senators and Representative in advance or use some influence through his Hollywood/CBS connections. Other Congressional tours of sites can be arranged through the respective Congressional offices. It’s never a ‘done deal’, but an attempt should be made. (Once upon a time, Elvis walked up to the gate of the White House and handed a note to the Secret Service guards indicating that he wanted to talk with President Nixon about drug enforcement; it was an historic meeting and the photo of the two together has become the best-selling postcard at the National Archives and the Nixon Presidential Library, which has recently been taken over by the NARA. Hmmm, I wonder if that would work for Mr. Ferguson with President Bush?)

A tour of the US Capitol Building and an opportunity to meet with his Senators and/or Representative as well as a chance to see government in action in the respective chambers or at a hearing, is mandatory. Preparing for the visit by watching C-SPAN would be beneficial. If the lantern is lit under the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol dome, then he could go in at night when it is less crowded and perhaps see a vote or two. (It takes a call to the Democratic or Republican cloakrooms of the Senate or House to determine what the schedule is. Call 202-224-3121 and ask for the cloakroom of your political choice; there isn't one for independents, contact Sen Lieberman's and Sen. Sanders' office directly.)

The Supreme Court of the United States should be next on the agenda. If the court is not in session, then one can attend a lecture in the courtroom every hour on the half-hour. When the court is in session, there are two ways to watch the proceedings and both require that one stands in line.

Other Important Sights:

The Library of Congress is also on Capitol Hill and that is a purely wonderful visit. The interior alone is worth seeing. There is a terrific exhibit of the Treasures of the Library of Congress as well as other exhibits (one was on Bob Hope). There is also a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and the Bible of Mainz. The Library does have public tours and it is the only way that one can get up to the viewing area to see the main reading room,which is impressive.

Monuments and memorials should be interspersed throughout the course of the tour. I prefer the following monuments during the day: Washington Monument (get timed tickets in advance online) Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Albert Einstein Memorial, U.S. Air Force Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Memorial, Navy Memorial (the museum is under the memorial), and U.S. Marine Memorial (Iwo Jima). These three memorials are gorgeous in the evening: Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.

Arlington National Cemetery (please see this post.) is one of my favorite places to visit and I highly recommend that one looks up the website and downloads some of the graves and memorials one would like to visit. I personally feel that it is a place one should walk through rather than take the tram. The Kennedy gravesites and the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Servicemen are required. But Mr, Ferguson might like to wander through Section 1 and spend a few moments in front of the Lockerbie Memorial to the 259 victims of terrorism on Pan Am Flight 103 (December 21, 1988) who perished on the flight over Scotland and the 11 Scots on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. The memorial cairn is composed of 270 stones from Scotland.

Naturally, the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art should also be visited throughout the tour. Alas! The National Museum of American Art is closed for two years while they renovate the building.

Another museum that will close for two years at the end of the summer is Ford’s Theatre. However, the Peterson House, where President Lincoln died, will remain open to the public.

A greatly anticipated museum will be opening in their new location in October. The Newseum, dedicated to the history of the news and news-gathering is bigger and better than the original, excellent museum, that was in Rosslyn, Virginia. It will have an IMAX movie and lots of interactive exhibits.

No visit of Washington is complete without paying one's respects at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's permanent exhibit. Daniel's Story: Remember the Children is a fitting introduction. Again, one can get timed tickets well in advance by booking online. This eliminates having to wait on a long line for first come, first served tickets.

Cedar Hill is the Home of Frederick Douglas in Anacostia to learn about this great ex-slave and orator who became a great force in abolition and civil rights.

The Washington National Cathedral is not only an imposing building, but is chock full of American history reflected through the stained glass windows, statues, and carvings. President Woodrow Wilson is interred there, very close to the Space and Technology Window that boasts a moon rock embedded in it.

There are so many other sites and memorials to visit; this is simply a start. Once you've been to this area, it becomes addictive. There is beauty and majesty in this city which reflects the whole of the American experience. I also find the city just as romantic as Paris or Rome, and much cleaner!

I would hope that Mr. Ferguson would also share this with his son before his son visits DC with his school. It would be a wonderful bonding experience and would give his son a better perspective of why his father loves this country so much and not to take US citizenship and freedoms for granted.


It was unfortunate that Mr. Ferguson was so ‘knackered’ after his 1 1/2 hour delivery; the position of, Hardest Working Man in Show Business, is now vacant, and Mr. Ferguson could certainly be a candidate. (He doesn’t normally eat before a show either, from what I understand, so I imagine that a late night meal is a priority.) If he had been a bit livelier afterwards, I would have suggested that he and his colleagues/staff accompany me to at least the Lincoln Memorial to receive perspectives, history, and trivia unavailable by a casual visit. It would have been the least I could do to offer hospitality.

Alas, all I was able to do was to hand him my business card, have a short exchange, and get a picture of us together. Oh well.

Craig Ferguson summed up his rationale for immigrating to the US as opposed to Canada (the usual place for the Scots): “The party is here. Canada is like the apartment above the party where they are banging on the floor to stop the noise.”


Party on!

The Tour Marm

Craig Ferguson: Role Model

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Vacation at Home

A Vacation at Home

They call it a busman’s holiday; a holiday doing what one normally does for work. The difference is that I’m a professional tour guide in the Virginia and DC area. My work as an educational student tour designer is an extension of my life and interests.

So where do I go for a vacation? I stay home. And by staying home, I mean going around to visit places that I don’t normally get to on tour.

Let me give you an example of this past week:

It was the 4th of July so naturally I got up early, and took a taxi to the National Archives. I have a particular place I like to sit and found that there was a lovely lady already there. We exchanged pleasantries and I sat down on the top steps beside her. I realized that the line to view the Charters of Freedom was unusually short (about twenty people) and I suggested that she and I go to visit. But she didn’t want to leave her spot and would be happy to save my place on the steps below the podium where there would be distinguished guests and our forefathers (Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin) giving a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The doors opened at 10:00 sharp, and after going through security, I was one of the first up there. It was so quiet. OK. Respects paid. I dashed out, got my fan (the archives give out paper fans with wooden holders that have the schedule of events printed on them), and joined my new friend. (I only missed the first part of the fife and drum corps.)

After listening to everyone, which included Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States; Cokie Roberts; and Ken Burns discussing his new series, The War. I gave the parade a miss and went to the other side of the archives on Pennsylvania Avenue and investigated all the activities they had in a series of tents. So I learned about the Cold War Museum and the women who helped to decipher messages, wrote with a quill pen, signed a copy of the Declaration, planted a paper cup victory garden, met two reenactors who portrayed people from the two most popular posters in the archives (I had them pose with the posters), bought a book and had it inscribed by the author.

After that, I crossed the street and took photos of the Navy Memorial and went downstairs to take more. (They have a great film and bathrooms!)

Time for lunch! There was a charming Mexican restaurant and while I don’t generally like TexMex, this was haute cuisine. I had a refreshing ceviche with crabmeat and scallops. They also brought me one of the best limeades I had ever had – there was a bit of carbonation. Yummy!

I spent an hour back at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, finishing up Virginia and hoping sometime before the 8th to visit Mekong River and Northern Ireland.

Part of the Roots of Virginia exhibit was the county of Kent, England. There were several exhibits concerning Canterbury Cathedral and I was able to touch some of the artifacts and 15th century glass.

Time to go home, do some work, and rest up for the evening.

My former roommate, and now neighbor, had called while I was out and I decided to return her call. She wasn’t doing anything for the 4th and I invited her to join me on the National Mall for the fireworks. She demurred because she envisioned that it would be too crowded. Ah! But when one travels with tour guides on their day off, one doesn’t get involved with lines or crowds! After I had convinced her, she was game!

And it was all that I had promised! Imagine, she had only seen fireworks from afar, but never directly above her! It was a thrilling experience for her – and she was shocked that the area in facing the south front of the White House was practically empty! Incidentally, the weather was perfect even after a rain shower two hours earlier.

For the next couple of days I worked a bit at home and ended up going into DC Saturday to wander around some more and take photos. Ford’s Theatre was my starting place as it will be closing down at the end of the summer for about two years due to needed renovations, upgrading of facilities and an elevator.

On the way I passed the FBI building and I think they’re building a new entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue. Unfortunately, they had to cut down a tree. The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building was a revelation. I had never noticed their courtyard and fountain, and the ceiling of the entrance way was painted! Security only allowed me to take photos from the street.

The statue of Nathan Hale was my next stop and I took photos for a possible future post.

Back to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival concentrating on the Mekong River and Northern Ireland..

I was surprised by the number of secret gardens around the Smithsonian. I had almost forgotten about them. There are three that I photographed extensively and I might do a separate posting on them. The first was a butterfly garden on the side of the Natural History Museum, the second was one all around the Smithsonian Castle, the Sackler, and Freer Galleries (all of which I visited, they were air -conditioned!). The third was one on the east side of the Arts and Industries building. Between the Sackler and Freer gardens I saw a mother swinging her toddler back and forth into a fountain. (It was a particularly hot day and the lad was so joyful to feel the cold water!) I can still hear his laughter and feel his happiness.

I stepped into the Smithsonian Castle for a break and a drink. I had seen what I thought was a bishop in a niche (subject of a future pos) on the side of the building. I went up to the information desk to ask, only to discover that the person I had asked was blind. She hadn’t any idea of what I was talking about and neither did her seeing colleague. But we spent about twenty minutes talking and going over a Braille map that was not only out of date, but inaccurate. I filled in the blank spaces and answered some of her questions. It was a lovely experience.

Then it was time to walk around the doughnut-shaped Hirshhorn Museum and took some photos of the sculpture and architecture before going across the street into their sculpture garden.

There were several Korean teenagers sitting opposite a tree that had all sorts of tags hanging from it. The tree was a recent gift from Yoko Ono and it was called a ‘Wish Tree’ where one makes out a tag and writes a wish and hangs it on the tree. The Korean students had printed several Christian messages. I eventually found out that they were sons and daughters of Presbyterian missionaries in Russia!

Well it was 070707 and there was a concert for the earth at the Museum of the American Indian. Former Vice President Al Gore had been there earlier in the morning. Someone had given me a World Wildlfe Fund fan they had received when the Vice President was there. I stopped for a couple of minutes and picked up another fan concerning a Pow Wow in August. (Did I tell you that I collect fans?) A Starbucks van was parked nearby and they were giving out free raspberry mocha frappachinos, Naturally I had three, they were in small cups!

It was now 5:15 PM and my back was telling me that I needed to return home and rest. (I’m not getting any younger!)

So that’s what I do when I don’t have 45 students trailing behind me.

It ‘s always a pleasure to ferret out more nooks and crannies, meet new people, find out new things, look at my neighborhood with a different set of eyes, and still have time to smell the flowers!

Just an aside about the Folklife Festival: It is a fantastic experience for all ages. There are so many exhibits, hands-on activities and concerts! I particularly liked the crafts and I am always interested in how things are made! There is also regional food at a reasonable price. And it didn’t seem very crowded

Friday, July 13, 2007

Interpreting Memorials, Monuments & Museums: Forward


It shouldn't take floodlights to illuminate a site.

Recently, EHT at History is Elementary posted something about telling stories rather than always presenting dry facts. Her post gave me a way to introduce my own future posts on the interpretation of monuments, memorials, and museums. In the past, I have conducted informal workshops for teachers, who had been planning to travel to Washington, DC. with their students, and were interested in learning how to teach on-site.

I love to tell stories, too! However, learning to tell stories is one of the hardest lessons to convey to city tour guides (most are hourly step-on guides) who want to transition into the educational student tour profession. City guides have been accustomed to an almost scripted commentary on and off the bus, which point out places en route and rattle off facts and statistics before each stop. Notice I used the word ‘stop’, for that is what a normal visit to a site involves; a ‘stop’ or a ‘photo op’. Some guides might give a bit of trivia , but that is the extent of their job. These guides are purely informational and simply facilitate the visits. Many of them do a very fine job given the constraints of time etc., but there is neither depth to the experience nor connection made with the group.

The term educator, comes from the Latin, to lead out, and that is exactly what we do. Full service (24-hour), professional, educational tour guides are educators who present and frame the history on-site. We achieve this by relating them to sites that the group may have been seen previously, as well as past discussions or lessons. .Many of us don’t give all the statistics, they’re not always important. (one can find them in the brochure, tour book, or online.) Each of my colleagues develops a theme or two that he or she employs in order to put the site into context. Interesting stories about the site, some personal experiences, or observations from other groups are usually shared by the tour guide. Some of us have come to appreciate curriculum standards and might even use them as a guide to interpretation. It is important to have some idea of the baseline before a guide starts a discussion; asking students what they know about the person or site is a great way to assess the base of knowledge. After the baseline is determined, certain aspects of the site should be highlighted according to the determination, and the students should be directed to seek them out. Questions should be posed at each site and the students should try to find the answers. Finally, there should always be time enough after the group visit for a short discussion or assessment. The emphasis should not be placed on the structure or site, but the meaning and significance of the person or event. Each site should be turned into a discovery to engage the student.

If you’ve read my post concerning the use of poetry on tour (in the recent issue of the AFT quarterly, The American Educator) or Bringing Cemeteries to Life (first published in LOST magazine), you’ll understand my background and preparations for my presentations. One has to work very hard on one’s approaches and tailor it to various types of groups to keep it interesting and relevant. Nothing is static; many of my stories have changed due to new revelations or my on-going research and study. Even the current events will affect my delivery. One needs to be receptive, imaginative, and flexible.

Recently, I was in New York City with a performing arts group from San Diego. It was a small, intimate group and as a result there was more time for exchanges of ideas and observations.

We were crossing Central Park on my usual route from the West Side (Strawberry Fields) to the East Side in order to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One of the ‘stops’ or ‘photo ops’ is a lovely fountain by the side of a lake. It is called the The Bethesda Fountain. I spoke a little bit about the fountain and how it was recently restored. They loved that the statue is called the Angel of the Waters. It was a hot, sunny day and after allowing them to rest a bit, people-watch, and to take a group photo (above), I was asked what ‘Bethesda' meant. (The reason is not explained in any of the Central Park tour literature or tour books, and at the point it was installed, the public was more scripturally knowledgeable and understood the context.) I hesitated because I hadn’t ever been asked that question. When I realized what it meant in a Christian context, it was a public school and I had to consider whether I should be quoting scripture (unfortunately, I need to be careful); I simply told them that it was after a biblical story in the New Testament. Bethesda in Hebrew means House of Mercy. One of the students remembered there was a Naval hospital of that name in Maryland, since we had passed it on tour.

The teacher smiled sweetly and turned to her students. “Let me tell you the story.”

After relating John 5, the students were truly affected and turned around again to take more photos. This time, the photos had more meaning.

Even I miss some opportunities.

The Tour Marm


In the following months, I’ll be posting some of my approaches to the interpretation of specific memorials, monuments, and museums one would come across during the course of a tour of the East Coast.

Naturally, You are welcomed to add any of your own ideas and experiences.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Figure It Out Friday 070607

Washington, DC Memorials Dedicated to:
Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, and Mary McLeod Bethune

All sculpted by Robert Berks

Click here if you want to learn more about the installation of the Einstein Memorial, in Robert Berks own words. (Quicktime need for audio)

Thursday XIII 071207

Thirteen Programs I Like to Include on Tour

Colonial Heights, VA -Pamplin Historical Park - Civil War Adventure Camp

Lancaster, PA - Live It Bethel - Underground Railroad Experience and Fellowship Fried Chicken Lunch

Anywhere -Dinner with a Patriot -Founding Father as Dinner Guest

Williamsburg, VA - Colonial Dance -Evening Program

Richmond, VA -St. John's Church - Reenactment of Patrick Henry's Speech

Philadelphia, PA -City Tavern Meal with Balladeer (Fraunces Tavern with Balladeer in New York is the runner-up)

Concord, MA -Orchard House - Fugitive Slave Program

Niagara Falls, NY - Maid of the Mist Boat Ride to the base of Niagara Falls

Washington DC - C&O Canal Boat Ride

Baltimore, MD - Edgar Allen Poe Program

Plymouth, MA - Pilgrim Dinner - Plimoth Plantation

Boston, MA -Old South Meeting House - Tea is Brewing Program

New York, NY -Carriage Ride Through Central Park

In another post, I challenged people to list the eight places they would like to bring their children or students to visit. I have learned about a few new ones, near and far. If you have a list, please add it to the original posting. Thank you!

My Figure It Out Friday is going to be a biweekly event since it is not part of a recognized meme. The object is to make a connected between or amongst photos to see the common link, that will somehow involve something that one can see on an educational student tour. I'm repeating this week's. You're invited to play along!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson: An Appreciation

"Ugliness is so grim," Lady
Bird Johnson once said. "A little beauty, something that is lovely, I think, can help create harmony which will lessen tensions."

“I have always been a natural tourist. Lyndon used to say I kept ‘one foot in the middle of the big road’. Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent.”

It's hard not to think of Lady Bird Johnson whenever I drive to Washington, DC from Alexandria; her imprint on the beauty of this city and the George Washington Memorial Parkway is significant. (George Washington Memorial Parkway is now part of the National Parks System.) The broad lawns, seasonal flowers, and trees that frame the nation's capital are a direct result of her association with Keep America Beautiful, Inc. while she was First Lady. She literally changed Washington, DC into a garden city.

Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson followed a very popular First Lady who had been widowed by a tragedy that shocked the world. Lady Bird Johnson continued the work started by Jacqueline Kennedy, who had restored the White House and had begun to beautify Pennsylvania Avenue, making her own mark by improving the natural environment of not only the Washington, DC area, but the entire nation, national parks, historic sites, and memorials. She believed that beauty could improve the mental health of the society .

“Though the word beautification makes the concept sound merely cosmetic, it involves much more: clean water, clean air, clean roadsides, safe waste disposal and preservation of valued old landmarks as well as great parks and wilderness areas. To me…beautification means our total concern for the physical and human quality we pass on to our children and the future.”

Restoring the health of our society in a politically and socially divisive era was also the agenda of her husband, who coined the term, Great Society. She had a great deal of influence over her husband and conservation policy during his administration: her southern sensibilities translated into the, 'iron hand 'neath the velvet glove'.

The official Presidential memorial to her husband is in the midst of the GW Parkway in Virginia on the former Columbia Island across from the Pentagon. Our 36th President is represented by a large, rough, unpolished granite monolith that was taken from the LBJ ranch in Texas. It was a spot that the First Lady herself had chosen.The island with its serpentine paths amongst 500 pine trees, dogwoods, and wildflowers has been renamed in her honor. The vista of the city from the memorial is breath-taking.

The next time you visit Washington, DC and Virginia, stop and smell the flowers in remembrance of a truly beautiful woman who improved the quality of our lives.

In one of her last meetings with the Society for a More Beautiful National Capital, Lady Bird talked of the accomplishments.

"Over the past three years, the people in this room have produced nearly two and a half million dollars to take steps toward making this nation's capital more livable and more beautiful. Not only is your handiwork enjoyed by the three million people who live and work in this city, it can be seen also by seventeen million visitors who come here each year, and our work has inspired other cities across the country," she told the group. "This has been one of the most lovely springs I can remember in Washington's history. It has also been one of the most poignant and grave. That fact underscores the urgency of improving our environment for all people."

It has been requested that donations be made in her honor as a final tribute to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center.

The LBJ Library and Museum and Lady Bird Johnson Final Tribute

National First Ladies Library

Keep America Beautiful

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

George Washington Memorial Parkway

How I Manage My Student Tours in the Field


I've been reading several educational blogs concerning effective classroom management and for the most part they have been very good. My experience with managing students on tour was by the 'seat of my pants' and after trial and error and eventual success. I finally feel as if I am in almost complete control of my domain. However, I was always open to learning more about classroom management techniques; there's always room for improvement.

Professional 24-hour tour guides are bright, knowledgeable, and flexible but surprisingly, many do not have college degrees! What they do have is practical experience (which I prize above all else), a deep love and appreciation of history, and excellent social skills. The main mission of guiding is group management and communication. The group must be manageable before there is any communication! One must get their attention, and most importantly, keep their attention.

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to take my first course in education and one that entailed classroom management. The tour company I worked with became the first to become accredited. Because of this accreditation, all the tour guides needed to be ‘certified’ and go through a certification course (4-6 hours) as well as learn new ways to approach educational content and student management.

Unfortunately, the educational ‘professional’ was one who believed in motivating students with candy and promises. I don’t believe that for each correct answer from a student, we should be throwing a Jolly Roger at them as we would throw a fish to a seal. It’s undignified and demeaning. I also don’t believe that we should make promises that we might not be able to keep if we don’t have complete control over the situation i.e. "If you come back to the bus within ten minutes, then I can give you all an extra fifteen minutes swimming", only to find out that the hotel pool is closed that evening! I resent ‘carrots’ that would put the focus on anything other than the learning process. Running back and forth to the bus at the Jefferson Memorial to take a quick photo, without learning anything, in order to get more swimming time at the hotel, is counter to the mission of a true educational trip. That’s sightseeing.

After expressing my displeasure with his theories, and there were so many others I found offensive, I was asked by this trainer how I would reward students. I countered, “Education and knowledge are their own rewards; I believe in praising, but not bribing,”

While I am not a real touchy-feely sort of person, I recognized that my management became easier and facilitated educational goals when the students understood that I both liked and respected them. I do compliment my students and encourage them. Praising students for their curiosity and critical thinking skills bolsters self-esteem and worthiness; it also promotes more of the same. Students need to be praised, they don't get enough of it in their everyday lives, but the praise should be earned.

Occasionally, if I have extra money, I will treat them to ices, buy some pretzels, Krispy Kreams right from the bakery, or a ride on the carousel on the National Mall. Sometimes I have balls and frisbees stashed away in my bag in order to give them a half hour in between museums to 'blow off steam', which is important. If they’ve really put in a good, full day when a lot of demands and rules have been followed, I will return to the hotel early. Why? Because I love them! My rewards are a thank you, rather than a please; they are never announced beforehand.

But I am no pushover; my authority is well-established and I have high expectations for my students and challenge them at every opportunity. And believe me, they in turn, appreciate and respect me.

After listening to drivel for two hours, I had had enough and walked out. I don’t believe he had ever been in charge of a group in his life!

Tour Guide Challenges

While teachers are striving to keep their students seated and quiet in order to be receptive to learning, we have to keep them in lines (for extended periods), cross streets, enter buildings, up and down staircases, and get through security. We also need to monitor their behavior in restaurants, museums, and hotels. We’re on duty 24/7. Our communication efforts are often thwarted by outside noises, crowds, and other influences that we must plan for and deal with.

In many cases we also have to manage overprotective and/or demanding parents who are not accustomed to the schedule and rigors of student travel. Additionally, some parents haven’t cut the umbilical cord and are in the way of their children's growth spurts and chance at some independence and ‘space’. (Sometimes children need to learn to work out their own problems without parental interference.)

My groups can be as large as 57 students and adults, so you can imagine that priority # 1 is safety!

After years of honing my skills, I have come to the conclusion that the secret to getting the best response from the group is to have them understand that the tour guide is in charge (in tandem with the teacher), the tour guide loves and respects each and every student, and the tour guide does everything in the best interest of the group.

We’re supposed to lead; they’re supposed to follow. And it is best that they want to follow1

Establishing One’s Presence and Authority

From the moment I meet the group at baggage claim until the time they go through security to return home, I put myself in a position of authority. (Naturally I defer to the wishes of the teacher/organizer, but by that time we have already spent hours designing the tour together and have talked over how the tour is to be conducted.)

When I first greet them, I am warm and welcoming. I introduce myself, or have the teacher introduce me, which is much better. I answer any questions and it is at that point that I start learning their names. I inquire about their flight. I note that they look tired. I ask if they are hungry (typically we provide a meal after the flight since the airlines are not serving meals anymore) and tell them that we will get to a meal as soon as possible. I mention that they need to remove any cameras, film, jackets, rain gear, medication from their luggage, for once it is under the bus, they will not see their luggage until we arrive at the hotel – because it is difficult on the driver. And most importantly, to get their last ‘chews’ in because from this moment until they get back on the plane, there is no chewing gum allowed. (If you’ve read my post about gum, you’ll understand!) I introduce the driver in advance at baggage claim and have them greet him by name when they first meet him at the bus. So from the get-go I let them know that I am concerned about them and that I am the other person in control.

Bus Management

If possible, the seats in the back of the bus should be off-limits to students. If there are parents, I put them on the bus first and they sit in the back in what I call the, ‘Coffee Klatch’. I want to establish a classroom setting; after all, this experience is for the students. The teacher and I are up front in separate seats across from one another so we can confer. If there are far fewer students than seats, then I block off a few rows of the bus in the back to bring them closer together in the front. (Whenever students or adults spread out in a bus, the level of engagement drops significantly. When a group is ‘bunched-up’, they are more receptive. This is also true in theatre.)

I introduce the driver and then go over a detailed safety talk about riding in the coach, the do’s and don’ts, the use of the ‘recycling area’ (toilet), the fact that the bus is the driver’s ‘office’ and they should respect it and keep it clean. Before the group de-boards the bus at each stop, they are required to throw the garbage away as they leave the bus. A thorough cleaning before entering the hotel is necessary.

Adults always board and exit the bus first. (No student should be on the bus alone with a driver - for the driver’s protection. No one should stay on the bus that is sick; find another place, go back to the hotel, or get some help. (The driver should not have to be attentive to or responsible for sick people. It can be a dangerous situation when the bus is shut down and becomes either too hot or too cold, or the person gets ‘sick’.) The bus should not be looked upon as a detention center. (Why punish the driver?)

Rotate sides of the bus getting off the bus. Or have boys off first one time, and the girls off next next.

And while I don’t advocate people standing up in the bus, I do walk back and forth to have short conversations with the students to keep in 'touch'.

No cell phones, walkmen, IPODS, MP3’s, or gameboys are allowed on the bus during the tour. (I will allow them on long drives i.e. Williamsburg to DC.) But having to ask them each and every time to remove their electronics is annoying and takes up valuable time during commentary; there is also a bit of resentment on the part of the student when I interrupt a game or a favorite song.

The only thing consumed on the bus will be air and water. No food or candy. (Unless there is an emergency box lunch meal that has to be consumed on the bus because of time or weather.)

It is on the bus that I discuss my ‘catch phrases’ and nomenclature. These phrases and terms (some silly) are like secret code words for the group and bind them together. These phrases and words can relate to the way we line up, attitude, and philosophy. They are instructive and motivational. Sometimes the students add their own and personalize the experience. If there is more than one bus, one can see the difference in attitudes and deportment between and amongst the groups because of these phrases. I also have a set of hand signals in the event we are in an area where I cannot speak to the group i.e. a secured area in a Federal Building or a noisy crowd.

All this is explained in depth so that the students understand why these are necessary.

I always ‘high five’ them as I count them getting off and getting on the bus. The ‘high five’ has become most important and they usually smile while they are doing it.

Management in the Field

I set out a set of challenges and problems one can come across during the course of the tour and ask for suggestions on how we can make things easier. The students then take ownership of many of the rules. Some of them are quite creative and I have used them for all my subsequent tours.

When it is convenient, I also like to include the students in the planning process and give them an idea about logistics. Part of the educational process is learning how to travel and make choices. Teaching about options and flexibility is also important.

I personalize all the people with whom we are going to meet during the tour. I know the names of most of the guards and Capitol Police, managers of restaurants, wait staff, hotel maids etc. I explain to the students how hard their respective jobs are and why. It is our responsibility to help make their jobs easier and their day brighter. When they understand that these are real people trying to do their jobs, the students are far more respectful than if these people were just anonymous authority figures or servants.

It is important to teach the skills of getting around an urban environment. I need to teach the students how to walk on a sidewalk (look at the sidewalk, make an imaginary line down the center and say to the right of it.), go in and out of doors. (The revolving door is the most challenging: single file, to the right, one at a time, push and walk!), up and down staircases (same as walking down a sidewalk), on escalators (In a single line, stand on the right, or walk to the left.), elevators (Let people off first, don’t jump or press all the buttons!), on the metro (my infamous John Wayne imitation – but they don’t know who John Wayne was!).

Common courtesy like holding doors and giving seats to the elderly or physically challenged must also be taught.

I have a hand signal for a ‘huddle’ when I need to speak to them outside and there is a lot of noise.

If possible, I find a secluded place where they can sit in the shade. Students are far more receptive when seated and comfortable.

I break them up into smaller, adult-centered groups to visit memorials and museums etc. No one learns as much in a crowd as in smaller groups. In those cases I talk to them about the site first, tell them what they should look for, and give them a specific time and place to meet. With that system, I have never lost a student at the Lincoln/Korea/Vietnam Memorials, even when it is crowded at night.

I like planning a Hawaiian shirt day. That needs advance notice, so that the students can buy and pack it in their suitcase before traveling. On one of the days, in the middle of the tour when there are no ‘official’ visits, I announce the Hawaiian Shirt Day. This raises the spirits of the students, as well as the onlookers, and it becomes something they look forward to. You can't imagine the effect of the shirts on 57 people walking on the National Mall! (Designing tee shirts for the group is also wonderful, especially on the first and last day. They should be all the same color, preferably bright, so the students can be seen in a crowd.)

I like pointing out how other students (Student Tourists or STs, the lowest form of life on earth) act and are disrespectful as opposed to my ‘enlightened ‘AIT’s’ (Adults in Training). My students are respectful after seeing these ‘STs’ in action and normally report some bizarre or foolish behavior they witnessed.

Anything that I ask them to do, I follow myself. If they can’t have gum, I will not chew gum. If they cannot sit, then I will not sit. And I do tell them that I will not ask them to do anything that I’m not prepared to do myself.

Don’t forget the assessment! If you ask them to find out about something, you must allow some time for a discussion concerning their discoveries, opinions, and feelings.

And count, count, count! (See my posting on that)

Management in Restaurants

I like to have some upgraded meals and the students usually respond well to a charming French restaurant or something exotic. I do go over good manners and ask that they thank their servers and use ‘please’ or ‘no thank you’. Compliments go a long way. I also teach them the words, ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’. In fact, I address my students as Miss or Mister on tour and as a group I refer to them as ladies and gentlemen or my AITs. The students respond much better to being termed as ladies and gentlemen than boys and girls. This is something that I would suggest in any classroom.

I usually call ahead to find out the table configurations and have them in table groups before they reach the restaurant. Adults always are seated and served first. (I tell my AIT’s that it is because they’re older and slower, which is the real reason; we do take longer to eat.)

Normally their table manners are atrocious and I don’t have time to teach them how to hold a fork or how to cut meat. I’m concerned with keeping the table clean and not having them play with the salt and pepper shakers, sugar, etc.

I always go around to inquire at each table how the food is etc.

They need to be mindful that there are other people dining there as well.

Management in Hotels


This is a real problem area.

It is not their home or personal room; it is on loan to them and belongs to the hotel.

They need to share beds (even the guys –one above the covers, one below.)

They need to be respectful of the furniture etc.

There are other people in the hotel who are trying to sleep, at all hours of the day and night.

They need to be dressed properly with shoes when outside the room.

I establish a room captain who holds the keys and assign specific tasks for the room group each night and morning to clean the room. (It is imperative to give them real specific tasks i.e. folding the wet towels over the bathtub, putting all the trash in the bin, keeping your clothes either in the closet or in your suitcase, which should remain closed during the day.)

There is a curfew and lights out time. (This must be respected by the adults who should neither disturb the students, nor try to have secret pizza parties after hours with their son/daughter’s room.)

Always have security guard on duty to protect the students.

There are no room-to-room calls except to the teacher in case of a problem or emergency.

They need to know what to do in case of fire and where to meet up with the group.

I don’t advocate the ‘taping ' of rooms’ doors anymore; it has tipped off pedophiles as to which rooms contain students.

Girls and boys rooms need to be separated and no connecting doors between student rooms.

They need to set their own alarms and room clocks in addition to the wake-up call that is arranged for the entire group. (No excuse for being late!)

They need to place their name tags on the inside handle of the room door, so they wont forget it (on the task list).

But more importantly, they need some time to relax, but not enough to get into trouble. I advocate a journal or workbook where they can record the events of the day. Nothing very demanding, but something to get them focused. I hardly ever have problems with noise or deportment etc. when students have a little bit of work to do. Breakfast is a good time to check this over.

Management of Time

Knowing how much time to spend in a place or on one's commentary is essential. Knowing when to stop. Knowing how long it takes from one site to another ,with and without traffic, is also important In touring; the effective use of time is the hallmark of a good guiding. A good guide factors in the time it takes to get on and off the bus, which is about fifteen minutes per for a large group, how much time it takes to get to places (standing in line, going up stairs, going through security etc.) And always work on worse case scenario; most of the time you'll be pleasantly surprise, but don't count on it!

Being strict about meeting times is important. Students need to understand about logistics and appointments. They also need to understand how to plan for the unforeseen. Five minutes, literally, can make a difference in Washington, DC between making or missing an appointment. It is always better to be a bit early. Time and tide wait on no man!


Full service tour guides have to do all of the above. Most of my colleagues are accustomed to teachers who just want to sit back and let the guide do everything. All of my current teachers are repeat and we have everything down to a system. Naturally, seasoned teachers can be of great service by preparing the students beforehand by having the students make out reports (see Teaching to the Trip) , organizing afterschool meetings to discuss the sights and logistics, and sharing some of the responsibility in the field. Many of my teachers have the students sign behavior contracts before the students can come on the trip. But most of the new teachers I have conducted don’t have a clue how to motivate and move large crowds of students.

As a rule, it only takes me a couple of hours the first day to convey all of this to the students in a fun and engaging way. The lessons stay with them for a lifetime. A Principal who tours with me in the autumn tells me that my management on tour positively affects his classroom management for the rest of the year. Several of my teachers have borrowed my catch phrases and nomenclature. And I, in turn, learn from my teachers and administrators, at least they have bona fide experience in the classroom!

But most of all, one needs to exhibit the essential leadership qualities of compassion, honesty, courage, and consistency. Everything else follows.