February 17, 2017
Making the Most of Classroom Volunteers
I am not traveling this week, and so I booked a slot to volunteer in my daughter’s first grade classroom. I know I’ll be put right to work! But. . . sometimes volunteers are more work!
With a little bit of planning and communication, classroom volunteers – whether family members, college students, or older kids seeking service hours – can be a huge help to your Togetherness! Here’s how!
- Synchronize the Sign-Up. Glenda G., my daughter’s first grade teacher, uses SignUpGenius to issue slots for the year. This is especially helpful when volunteers need to adjust their schedules. Rather than emailing the teacher, volunteers can manage on their own!
An added bonus here is that Ms. G sets standard times per day, most often during literacy. This is helpful because she can assign the same set of tasks to the volunteers each time. Literacy is also when she needs the most support because she is pulling guided reading groups.
- Think Above and Beyond. There are *TONS* of things volunteers can do in your classroom! In addition to the typical tasks of copying, filing, and listening to students read, Luisa S., a special educator in Boston, also asks her volunteer to:
- Enter grades into an online report card system
- Make posters and forms after she sketches them on a regular sized sheet of paper
- Make visuals to accompany key points in her classroom’s novels
- Underline and annotate for students who need differentiation
- Make and laminate token charts and other individualized behavior trackers
Luisa uses one volunteer for 2 hours per week after school and notes that she is CRITICAL for help with student accommodations: “Some of these tasks required quite a bit of training before I could leave them up to her, but now they run very smoothly!”
- Set Up a Station. Cloi C. uses a specific station where her volunteers go to grab items to copy, file, or grade. Cloi explains, “In the copy drawer, I leave things that need to be copied with a sticky note to say how many. I also leave papers that need to be filed in the file drawer so they can be put away in each student’s file.” This sounds like a huge time saver to me!
Folders could also work just as well!
- Communicate Clearly. Create some kind of welcome letter and instruction sheet so you do not have to stop each time to explain directions to well-meaning helpers! I love this short and sweet model from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher last year.
And while you’re at it, try adding a Supply Station, so your volunteers don’t have to bug you for scissors, tape, glue, and so on!
So, while it might seem like a lot of upfront work to manage ADULTS in your classroom, it’s also true that the time you spend now will SAVE you tons of time later!
And just for fun, we built a Pinterest board of other great ideas over here.
communication, storage, supplies, systems