Volunteers are an invaluable resource to our teachers and students. Those who volunteer at school will sharpen their teaching skills, become better leaders, and develop a sense of pride in contributing to students’ success.
See a Need, Fill a Need
“Working with teachers is great,” said Marilyn Allison, a retired special education teacher and a volunteer at Athlos Academy of Utah. Allison started volunteering daily in her grandson’s fifth-grade classroom and has since developed a strong connection to the teacher and students there. “Communication with the teachers is important. We love being creative. I’ll bounce an idea off her, and she’ll bounce an idea off me.”
Allison found an opportunity to serve where she would be most needed. She saw an opening in her schedule and chose to spend time in her grandson’s class, aiding the teacher and contributing to the school.
Balancing Volunteer Hours
Athlos understands that parents are busy and have little to no spare time. Though we appreciate all the help we can get, no school is expecting a full-time volunteer commitment.
Volunteering doesn’t always have to be in the classroom or during school hours. There are a variety of things you can do, such as:
- Helping setup for school events
- Assisting teachers in building classroom kits at home
- Reading with children after hours
- Offering to tutor students
Volunteer needs are based on current school needs and will change often, but the best way to learn about your school’s opportunities is to simply ask your school.
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” — Elizabeth Andrew
Teachers and Volunteers
Before volunteering in a classroom, take time to get to know the teacher and his or her expectations. It’s important to understand each other’s approach and comfort levels. Let the teacher know they can depend on you.
“My parent volunteers are a huge part of my classroom,” said Jo Whittaker, a first-grade teacher at Athos Academy of Utah. “I have them come in at least three days a week. They help with fluency, sight words, phonics, and math. They are able to be another source of one-on-one time with every level of learner.”
Through collaborating with her volunteers, Whittaker found that solutions to challenges became easier to find. “In math, some students struggled with telling time on the analog clock,” she said. “One mom brought in an approved clock craft that she made with every child. This simple, yet super fun, project was the added strategy to help push [the students] over the hump and understand the concept of telling time. They love their handmade clocks!”
When in Doubt, Ask a Teacher
If you’re not sure about where to start with volunteering, message your child’s teacher. Since teachers are on the front lines of education, they often are first to know how much help is needed and when.
“I feel that I have the best parent volunteers in the world!” Whittaker said. “The countless hours they spend here with the students is amazing. I understand that they each have a ton of obligations outside of the school that keep them running crazy, yet they will not leave until each child has had quality time with them.”
Volunteering at a school can be an intimidating and challenging experience, but with a little courage and grit, it can be an excellent opportunity to develop Performance Character traits, leadership skills and a feeling of optimism knowing that each moment spent with a student contributes to their overall success in life.