Effective Ways to Get Volunteers For Your Classroom
Sep 18, 2010 Classroom Management 2494 Views
Teachers often find they have more jobs to do than people to do them. It's common for a good number of people to volunteer at the beginning of the school year, but when projects begin, only a valuable few actually follow through with their commitment. As they say, "many hands make light work," so here's a few ways to increase your volunteer pool and lighten the load a bit for the others.
Don't overlook the obvious. Many people say the reason why they don't volunteer is because they simply aren't asked. A personal approach is often the most effective. If you see a parent you think would be a great asset to a class project, don't be shy about asking them if they will volunteer an hour to help. Parents may assume you have all the volunteers you need unless they hear from you personally.
Watch the clock. Be clear about how much time will be involved in a project. A lot of people shy away from becoming a volunteer because they are afraid they will be called on to help longer than they are able. When organizing a class project, make a list of one-hour tasks that even the busiest parent can fit into their schedule. Include things that can be done at home for people who would rather work behind the scenes, as well as jobs that can be done outside of regular schools hours for parents who can't come during the day.
Don't procrastinate. When a parent expresses interest in volunteering for a distant project, don't wait for weeks before securing a specific commitment from them. Even if the event is months away, talk to them early about what is required and how they can help. You can also use the opportunity to ask them to volunteer an hour, or two, for a current project.
Think outside the box. Teachers often send home volunteer surveys to find out what projects parents might be willing to help out on. But there is another way to find volunteers that you might not have considered before: a help-wanted ad in your class newsletter or school paper. Volunteers don't have to be parents of children in the class. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and parents of children in other classrooms might want to get involved, as well. So don't limit yourself to asking only classroom parents to volunteer.
The more the merrier. Many people are bashful about getting involved if they are new and don't know anyone in the group. Encourage volunteers to bring a friend or relative with them. Talk to current volunteers about who they know that might want to help out. Positive peer pressure can be a big asset in getting more volunteer help in your classroom.
Write it down. Many of your classroom projects are an annual event. Create a binder that contains all the information volunteers need to complete the task. You can include things like what steps to take and in what order, where supplies are located, who needs to be contacted, how money should be handled and how much time will be needed for each part of the project. While this will be a little extra work for you initially, having a go-to binder will save you and others lots of time in the end. Knowing what to expect will alleviate any anxiety new volunteers might be feeling and will assure you that everything that should be done gets done.