By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Entries with keyword: volunteers
Posts 1 - 3 of 3

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Volunteers: Project Appleseed's Survey of Volunteer Interests

In yesterday's post I mentioned Project Appleseed (http://www.projectappleseed.org/). It's an organization whose goal is to improve parental involvement in schools.  One particularly useful contribution of Project Appleseed is their Survey of Volunteer Interests. It brings to mind a broad range of ways that volunteers may help the school. That's good for dealing with budget-induced staff reductions and for higher student achievement through parental involvement.

Survey of Volunteer Interests

Volunteering in the classroom

·         Tutor a student

·         Work with individual students.

·         Work with small groups of students.

·         Listen to students read

·         Translate for students. Language:

·         Help with teacher's clerical work.

·         Prepare materials

·         Attend field trips

·         Help students with dramatic performances, special events

·         Help out in class with art projects, science experiments, etc.

·         Appear as a guest speaker to share my professional experience, travels, culture, talent, skill or craft. Explain

Volunteering in other areas

·         Organize or help with school security (bus, school grounds, etc.)

·         Building maintenance

·         Carpentry

·         Gardening or yard work

·         Work in school library

·         Photograph school activities

·         Videotape school activities

·         Provide transportation to parents for: conferences, events, etc.

·         Type or do clerical work

·         Prepare newsletters

·         Prepare posters, displays, etc.

·         Do copying and laminating

·         I am interested in working with children on computers and supervising children while they surf the World Wide Web on the Internet.

Helping by working at home

·         Recruit parents, citizens and local businesses to participate in special reading programs for students.

·         Call parents, organize phone trees for attendance and special projects

·         Enter data on a computer

·         Gather resource materials

·         Sew

·         Provide snacks

·         Correct papers

·         Cut out letters

·         Prepare bulletin boards

·         Stuff envelopes

·         Distribute brochures door-to-door

·         Become a block home

·          I am interested in improving our schools by working with other parents on site-based councils, and projects and issues concerning our schools.

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Keywords: volunteers, cost savings, parental involvement


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Volunteers: Expanding participation

Who volunteers? Often, it’s the same few parents who volunteer while the majority hang back or offer excuses about how their kids would rather that their parents not be seen around the school.

One solution for more satisfying volunteering (for teachers and parents) and more individuals volunteering is better information.  Project Appleseed (http://www.projectappleseed.org/) is an organization whose goal is to improve parental involvement in schools.  Part of what they advocate is more volunteering.  They recommend collecting information from parents on the kinds of volunteering that they are willing to do.  That way, teachers have a database of potential volunteers to call upon when they need particular skills, knowledge or experience.  Project Appleseed collects information about volunteering in the classroom, volunteering in other parts of the school and volunteering from home.  You might use their list of volunteer activities as a starting point and, with the help of your teachers, create your own.
Create a Web form on your website to collect potential volunteering activities and ask parents to enter their preferences.  This way parents get to volunteer for activities that they would enjoy doing.

Going the other way, many schools list specific volunteer opportunities on their website and allow parents to sign up.  The parents can be prompted at PTA meetings or through newsletters or just through the website.  The more thought teachers give to the volunteers they need, the better. Are you looking for people who can talk about how they use algebra or trigonometry in their lives? Ask for it. Would you like someone to speak about the culture of Mexico or Hong Kong? Ask for volunteers.
Encourage parents to ask how they can help. Attend a career day? Help in a classroom? Help prepare a special event? Some schools advocate volunteering goals: Encourage parents to decide to volunteer at least three hours per year, and then find ways to help. If they can't volunteer during school hours, ask what they can do from home or in an evening or on a weekend. Parents can find at least three hours. Volunteering helps parents get firsthand experience at the school and that can help them better understand their child and the school.

Volunteering is part of a larger idea: providing support for teachers and the school. Other forms of support include participating in the parent-teacher organization, attending school board meetings or getting involved in ideas for school improvement.

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Keywords: volunteers, cost savings, parental involvement


Monday, March 28, 2011

Volunteers: Doing more with less

As education budgets fall and class sizes increase, educators need to innovate to do more with less. Parent volunteering is a great way to augment the available staff, for parents and teachers to get to know each other and to become more comfortable.  Volunteers who assist with field trips and extracurricular events provide valuable extra help. Volunteers in the classroom demonstrate to students that adults put a high value on education. Students may also benefit from exposure to adults of various ages, races, ethnicities and with a variety of experiences to share.

Volunteers helping teachers can free them for other tasks such as more individualized attention to students or more planning time. Or, the volunteer might provide individualized attention to students by listening to one read or reading stories to a small group.

One of the unique contributions that volunteers can make is to bring professional or life experience into the classroom, especially as it relates to lessons being taught. This can enrich the lesson and puts a human face on it. Many teachers are rushing to cover material specified by the curriculum and state standards so they have little time left to prepare enrichment material. Volunteers can provide enrichment while adding more variety to the classroom. Volunteer speakers also give a lot more adults an opportunity to volunteer but presents a logistical challenge to the teacher. If a teacher were to invite one visitor per week for a 15 minute talk, that’s 36 visitors a year, so keep the schedule simple. Collect your volunteer signups and then send a reminder email to the list regularly, say, every week or two. That keeps the commitment in their minds and reminds them that you’re counting on their participation. However, periodic emails require little more effort than sending the same message periodically. And, just as you depend on your volunteers to show up when scheduled, avoid rescheduling their visits.

Teachers sometimes resist having volunteers in the classroom. Teachers may view volunteers in the classroom as more of a problem than a benefit, largely due to potential conflicts. Volunteers may disagree with how a subject is taught or how the classroom is managed. Volunteers may overstep their bounds as classroom helpers and feel they must take over the classroom.

Problems are best averted with proper orientation of volunteers either by the school or by the teacher. Let them know the rules: what to call adults, confidentiality rules and discipline procedures. If volunteers are to work with students, let them know the objectives of the lesson and how they will be carried out.

Make sure that volunteers understand their commitment. Can volunteers be relied upon by the school?  Teachers can't expect to rely upon volunteers if the volunteers, in fact, don't show up.  It must be made clear to the volunteers that volunteering is not a “maybe” kind of thing.  Volunteering implies a commitment and the expectation that the volunteer can be relied upon to finish the job.

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Keywords: volunteers, cost savings, parental involvement

  Posts 1 - 3 of 3