Volunteers can make a big difference in the success of your classroom. But how do you find people who are willing to generously donate their time and skills? In this three-part series you’ll learn how to recruit your own volunteers for the classroom, find tips for managing your volunteers, and have access to helpful resources for creating an effective volunteer program for your classroom.
Here are some helpful tips for recruiting volunteers for the classroom.
Familiarize yourself with your school’s volunteer policy. This will be different for each school community. The policy will guide your decision making regarding how you recruit and use your classroom volunteers.
Advertise at Back to School Night. The first place I always look for volunteers is in my students’ families. At Back to School night I circulate a sign up form for parents and other interested family members. The sign up sheet gives me a snapshot of the contact information, interests and strengths, volunteering preferences, and availabilities of each potential volunteer parent.
Send a note home with the parent packet. Often there are many parents who are unable to attend Back to School Night. A week or two into the year is a good time to send an introduction note home with a parent participation survey. By this time parents are settling into their school year routines. They’ll have a better idea of their availability.
Recruit at Parent Teacher Conferences. By the end of the first quarter parents’ schedules may have changed. You’re also settled into a routine and are beginning to see areas that you could use help. Holiday season can be a good time to have extra helpers. Ask parents if they’d like to help with specific tasks or events.
Keep your ears open for community members at community events. Don’t be afraid to ask people if they would consider volunteering or sharing their skills with your students. Let people know you are a teacher and that you love to include community members in your planning. When you get a positive response, exchange contact information.
Keep track of interests and availability. Maybe a parent or community member isn’t available to volunteer in the classroom or doesn’t fit with your teaching style. Knowing their strengths will help you find opportunities that will work for both of you. Keep their contact information and volunteering interests in your planner and refer to them later when a service opportunity arises.
Plan a school-wide learning day. Look at the abilities and interests of your volunteer base and plan an engaging project-based learning day around them. Read how I planned Pioneer Day by recruiting local fiber artists, a blacksmith and other crafters. Using volunteers to share skills they are passionate about makes the school experience more enriching for everyone.
Finding volunteers for your classroom can be tricky. Taking an interest in parents and community members is key to having them take an interest in what you’re doing in the classroom.
Now that you’ve recruited some new helpers, make sure their experience is positive. Read the next post in this series to learn tips for managing volunteers in the classroom.
Don’t miss the other posts in this three-part series on Working with Volunteers in the Classroom.