parent volunteers | Teaching in the Tongass

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

parent volunteers


Every year I am somehow fortunate enough to get a couple of really awesome parent volunteers. And in a Title I school with not an ideal amount of parent involvement each year. What I'm trying to say is that if you're thinking, "Well, that's just not gonna happen with my school," you're probably wrong. I've been asked by a few colleagues how I get to be so lucky, and I've always just said, "I ask." Well when I really think about it, it's not just that I ask, really.  It's that I am organized about it. If you ask for volunteers, and then they come into your classroom, you'd better be prepared. You cannot act annoyed that they are standing in front of you while you're trying to teach that oh-so-awesome lesson on bar models. You just can't. So, be prepared, or they won't return. This is a quick post on how I get volunteers in my classroom and keep them all year. Yep, all year.

This one is probably a no-brainer for you (especially if you already read teacher blogs). You need to ask. Then you have a list you can refer to of parents that want to help. If you only have a couple, jot their names on a sticky note and put it somewhere near your work area so you can contact them when needed.
Once you've got a couple of volunteers in your back pocket, USE THEM! You know those jobs we all take home to do or we know anyone can do them (the ones it doesn't take a teaching degree to do), send them home!!! Parents usually work 8-5. They want to help, but can't leave work to cut out your laminating jobs or sight words.  Sometimes I just send out an email asking. No forms, no google doc, just a simple, "Hey families! Who wants to cut out some laminated things this weekend and be my hero?" You would be surprised at how many reply that they do! So, get yourself a Parent Volunteer Binder you can send the work home in.
I keep a zipper pouch with anything they might need. Adult and kid scissors, tape, gluestick, highlighters, white out, pens (red and black), sticky notes/sticky tabs, rubber bands, stickers and a pencil. You can't assume a family has any of these things lying around the house.
My students do math review packets for 5 minutes each day (read more about my math workshop here).  I typically get 1 or 2 parents that are willing to correct work all year. IT HAS SAVED MY TEACHING SANITY. These parents are angels. This is easy, but tedious work and it's definitely something any parent can do. But, I have a specific way I like to correct them as they do the fixing in class, so I have provided a detailed guide to correcting. When I've sent home spelling, I've done the same thing.

 And if you're super lucky, you might get a parent that wants to come in and volunteer in your classroom. Of course, if they'd rather be working with kids, that's a little easier. You can simply have them roam the room if kids are working in small groups or independently. You can ask them to read with a kid in the hallway. But if you have anyone that wants to do prep work for you (or if that's really what you'd prefer--especially when you're doing a whole group lesson and there really isn't much else for them to do), you should prepare a list for them to reference. I use this as my own "to-do" list all year, but I write it so that anyone volunteering can do use it.
I've made a FREEBIE binder cover and volunteer sign up sheet if you like mine. You can grab them below:

So that's pretty much it! Have you had much success with in school or at home volunteers? What are your secrets? Please feel free to comment below!

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