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Volunteering 101: The 3 "Bes" and a FREEBIE

When I made the choice to accept a new role that focused on teacher preparation versus direct classroom instruction, I knew it'd be a struggle. After six years of running my own show classroom, taking on a more advisor-ish role was quite the change. In order to satiate my thirst to be in front of kids, I decided to volunteer at my old school. That said, I had to recognize the limits of my "reach" and adhere to someone else's rules and regulations. This is often easier said than done. I think of this as intent vs. impact. Wanting to volunteer to help out a school or class is a great, but if the action that follows hinders more than it helps we have a #problem. Below are a few tips on being an A+ volunteer in a classroom.
This should go without saying, but everyone has their own definition of professionalism. My thoughts are:

  • Dress for Success: I'm not saying you need a ballroom gown (ha!), but anything that could be interpreted as PJs is a "no-go." 
  • Be Consistent: Let your teacher and the students know if you are missing a day, and try not to let this happen too frequently. If you've committed to a day and time, only cancel for true emergencies. 
  • SPEAK UP: When walking through the halls introduce yourself to the staff. It's really awkward to see someone every week who just walks by without saying a word. 
  • Kids are Kids: Building relationships with the students is important, but should not come at the expense of you being viewed by the children as "one of them." I love my kiddos, but they need rules, limits, and boundaries that align with their school environment. I use the same rules and procedures that the teacher has in place.  
  • Build Relationships: Take time to get to know the students.Below is the "Meet the Teacher" I created printed for the kids. They were glued to every detail about me! 
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Time is so precious, please don't waste it. If a teacher is gracious enough to allow you time with the students make the most of it. 
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  • Meet with the teacher to determine key ideas and concepts to cover 
  • Seek out feedback 
  • Record yourself and make adjustments 
  • Plan ahead and bounce ideas off your teacher 
I met with my teacher before my first day and used the forms above to collect in formation about the students. I used that information to make folders and arrived about 20 minutes before my scheduled "class" to prepare the room I would be using. As my basketball coach would say, "Fifteen minutes early is on time, and on time is late!"  

 Lastly, have fun!!! Volunteering should be stress-free for the teacher, and fun-filled for the students and the volunteer! Hope you liked it!

Do you have any tips for volunteers? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. 

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