1. Keep an ongoing "to do" list of tasks and jobs parent volunteers can do. When you lesson plan, make a note of what preparation and instructional duties can be delegated to parent volunteers.
2. Make up a master for a simple task sheet for parent volunteers that you can copy. Include the date, time, task and instructions. Then fill them in for specific tasks.
3. Start a Parent Volunteer file with folders that are labeled according to tasks such as duplicating, laminating, papers to be filed, instructional duties, etc.. It makes it so much easier to put tasks in already delegated folders.
4. Keep a special folder of tasks for parents who work but have expressed interest in helping. These are tasks that can be worked on at home. The folder may include things to be cut out, papers to be collated and stapled, labeling, computer work and research.
5. If possible have orientation or training sessions for parent volunteers. Make sure everyone knows how to run the copier, laminating, dye cut machines. Show parents where classrooms supplies are kept. Be very clear and specific in your expectations.
6. When asking a parent to work one on one with a student or small group of students, make sure they are familiar and confident enough with the academic task to perform it.
The following tips have been graciously contributed by teachers.
I'm subbing this year as I just moved cross-country to Washington State, but when I was teaching 2nd grade in Jacksonville, FL, my best use of parent volunteers was to help with math instruction. We used the Everyday Math Program, which involves lots of small group explorations. I normally did whole group instruction Mon., Tues., & Wed., then on Thurs. & Fri., my math block was all small group math centers. I usually had 6 centers going and divided my class into groups of 4 to 5 kids. Kids would complete 3 centers on Thurs. & the other 3 on Fri. I stationed a parent volunteer at each center to help with instruction and monitor the explorations. I always ran one center and this allowed me to teach more complex lessons in a small group format. My parent volunteers were invaluable to me during this time, as they kept the children on task and were able to reinforce what I had taught in whole-group in a fun, hands-on exploration. I was fortunate enough to have 5 volunteers who committed to helping me on a regular basis every Thurs. & Fri., but a group of parent volunteers could have easily alternated if they didn't have time to come every week.
Our school has a parent volunteer information sheet that allows parents to explain what they prefer to do (clerical work, working with individual students, specific subjects, etc.) This way the parents are able to let you know what they feel most comfortable with. Our PTO also trains volunteers to use the various equipment (copiers, die cut machines, etc.).
Sometimes if I have a project coming up where I will need some things prepared (stuff cut out, put together, etc.) I save this type of thing for those parents who want to help out but can't come in on a regular basis. For example, binding class books, reading books to record on cassettes, cutting out die cuts, making file folder games, or typing up student written work. Also, I try to have materials that volunteers will need on a table in the hallway outside my room. Since most of my volunteers come on a weekly basis, I have developed a schedule of things for them to do so that they know what to expect when they come in.
--Beth, 3rd grade, Pennsylvania
I am an English and literature teacher of the 6th, 7th and 8th grades in a small k-12 school. Although I do not use volunteers in my classroom, my school does and I use volunteers almost weekly in extra-curricular activities. My school uses volunteers in a VIP program that works the copier machines and laminating machines for the teachers so we can better use our "off" time for the classroom. The VIPs sort mail, run errands for the teachers and office personnel, help with the libraries, file papers and generally make life easier for us. I truly do not know how we would survive without our VIPs. I use my volunteers with everything that happens after school that I am involved in. We try to have dances for the middle school about every two weeks and, even though I am the official "in charge" person, I usually have to do the paper work and the volunteers do the rest from getting supervision to music to refreshments. Last year, we had our first-ever field-day-with-dance-and-then-spend-the-night-at-school blowout. I suggested it to a parent and they literally did everything else -- except accept praise. They THANK me for letting them help! Am I lucky or what?!?
I have used parent volunteers in 3 ways:
1. We do ancient history simulations, so I've asked the parents to help. A few weeks ago, we did a "hunter/ gatherer" simulation, and parents came in and hid the food baggies outside and helped me watch each class as I took them outside to hunt/ gather.
2. I have asked parents to put up Bulletin Boards or hallway displays for me.
3. Parents come in to help with parties and /or field trips.