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How to Find, Train, Utilize and Thank Classroom Volunteers

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/5/2012

A teacher will gain invaluable help with a classroom volunteer. Find out how to search for volunteers, get them started, make them feel welcome, train them and thank them for their hard work.

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    Get Someone to Help with Some of Your Work!

    School volunteers are very helpful to a teacher; they help a teacher keep the classroom running smoothly which enhances learning. A volunteer is an invaluable asset to any teacher. An extra set of hands and eyes in the classroom ensures that learning is on track, safety is better maintained, and paperwork is handled efficiently. Be sure to ask your school principal if volunteers are allowed and about any guidelines for volunteers.

    Finding Classroom Volunteers

    At the start of the school year teachers may want to send a form letter home that inquires if any parents would like to serve as occasional or permanent volunteers in the classroom. One could also send an e-mail to parents if the school district utilizes e-mail for teachers. Another way to find volunteers is to simply tell other teachers that you are looking for a classroom volunteer. Often teachers have other retired teachers as friends; a retired teacher may be eager to serve as a volunteer to help out a teacher.

    Some colleges with Education departments also encourage college students who are majoring in education to do volunteer work at schools while in college. So contact the local college and see if the Education department has a list of available volunteers.

    Training the Classroom Volunteer

    Ask the volunteer if there are any tasks she or he would like to be involved in. Also, make a list of possible tasks the volunteer could help with and ask them to check off any task they would live to be involved with.

    The list could include items like:

    • Helping organize and return graded class work and tests.
    • Setting up technology to do slide shows or show a film.
    • Help decorate the classroom.
    • Put student work up on bulletin boards.
    • Hand out calculators or other supplies.
    • Circulate the room to assist students with work.
    • Help students use computers for research.
    • Help maintain classroom management.
    • Water any plants in the classroom.
    • Collect homework, and other tasks.

    Hold several meetings with the volunteer during a prep period or after school to help the volunteer become aware of your classroom procedures and familiarize him or her with the tasks they will participate in. Ask the volunteer if he or she has any questions. Give the volunteer copies of the student seating charts, classroom rules, and any other information the volunteer would find useful to learn about the daily routine in the teacher’s classroom.

    Utilizing the Classroom Volunteer

    Set up routines, such as keeping a basket on your desk of work that needs to be returned to students, to help the volunteer function independently. Structure the classroom so the volunteer can just check certain baskets on your desk or in the room to see what work is available to do.

    You may also want to hang a cork board for the volunteer. You could post a photo of the volunteer, his or her name, and notes about any tasks that you would like the volunteer to work on. This gives the volunteer a sense of comfort of knowing what they should be doing and that he or she has a prominent place within the classroom. He or she may just check the volunteer board and get started in helping out in the classroom. You could also make up a formal name tag for the classroom volunteer to wear when in the school. Have it laminated for durability.

    Introducing the Volunteer to the Class

    Introduce the volunteer to the class and tell students that the volunteer will be working with them. Let students know what days the volunteer will be in the classroom.If the volunteer wishes to, you may also ask he or she to tell the students a bit of information about their life or career.

    Give Thanks to the Classroom Volunteer

    Tell the volunteer “thank you" each and every day they are in the classroom. Also, show your appreciation for the volunteer’s work with a small gift at the holiday and perhaps even a certificate you could print up on the classroom computer that states a thank you for excellent service as a school volunteer. If you have a classroom newsletter be sure to list the volunteer’s name in it and provide recognition for the work the volunteer did for your class.

    Do you have any experience using a classroom volunteer? How did it work out?