Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools
Worth a Click
100 Ways to Know More. Do More.
There are many ways to be involved. Here, you‟ll find 100 suggestions. You‟re probably doing some of these things
already. The goal is to find a few new ones that you‟d be comfortable trying now. Whatever you choose, you‟ll soon see the
effects your efforts have on your children, their schools and yourself. That‟s because when parents get involved in their
child‟s education, everyone benefits.
Increasing Parental Involvement
Tips for involving parents as active partners in education are included in this site. New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism
This web site was created to engage citizens of New Mexico of all ages and backgrounds in community based service to
address the state‟s human, educational, environmental, public safety, health, housing, and other needs. PTO Today
PTO Today supports PTA‟s and parent organizations with free articles, tips, resources and management tools (available for
purchase) to develop and sustain vibrant, equitable family involvement and volunteering in schools. Project Appleseed
The National Campaign for Public School Improvement. Project Appleseed is helping schools involve parents. This
organization has created a list of 37 different ways in which parents can help and is on its way to recruiting 5 million
parent volunteers nationwide.
-Project Appleseed’s Parent Involvement Pledge http://www.projectappleseed.org/pledge.html -Use Your School’s Parental Involvement Pledge Effectively by Project Appleseed
Promising Partnership Practices
This site offers creative ideas for getting parents to school.
This site offers web based resources and links for school administrators, teachers, parent teacher organizations and
other parent volunteers, as well as anyone who coordinates volunteer and community partnership activities with other
organizations, including businesses.
Teachers: Action Without Borders
This site offers resources to teachers wishing to promote youth volunteerism, connect classroom with the community,
present your students with a research tool, help students turn their ideas into action or use nonprofit resources in the
classroom. It also includes information on volunteering as a family and service learning programs. 1
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools Building Family-Friendly Schools
“Schools must become places where families feel wanted
and recognized for their strengths and potential.”
(Ballen & Moles, 1994)
Family-friendly schools create a climate in which every characteristic of the school is open and helpful. These
family-friendly schools make every effort to build partnerships with all families, not just those that are most
involved. Use this checklist to determine how family-friendly your school is, as well as how you can increase
its friendliness in a way that is reflective of the cultures and languages it serves.
Practices for creating a family-friendly school environment: Yes No Create and publicly post a family-school-community partnership policy or mission statement that provides the philosophical framework for all family-school-community activities.
Establish policies and practices that acknowledge and support traditional and nontraditional families, as well as those with differing schedules and commitments.
Create an open-door policy and climate that is responsive to parents and their concerns. (If for safety reasons it is necessary to lock some doors, be sure that families understand this and know
the procedure for calling and being met at the front door.)
Set school calendars, when possible, to accommodate major community events, activities and ceremonies.
Create a front office atmosphere that makes people feel welcome:
Greet families with a smile and warm welcome. Have parent friendly information available in English and translated into other languages as necessary.
Create a comfortable, clean place to sit, meet and access resources. Hire bilingual staff to serve as interpreters. Recognize that families have different learning styles and require that you vary the way information is shared.
Arrange for flexibility in routine tasks such as registration and orientation (on-line options, telephone options, day and evening hours etc.)
School staff who are successful in engaging family members share the following qualities: Recognize that parents play a crucial role in their child‟s learning. Always treat parents with respect. Demonstrate concern for students in all interactions with parents.
How Can We Improve? _____________________________________________________________________________
Adapted from Ballen and Moles (1994)
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools
Volunteering Project Ideas
Consider the following activities suggested by the National PTA for increasing volunteerism. Keep in mind that
in selecting activities, it is important to include initiatives for increasing parent/family involvement which are
identified in the school’s improvement plan or the Educational Plan for Student Success (EPSS).
Conduct a school climate survey in order to assess how friendly your school‟s climate is to parents. Use the information
received to guide efforts to make the school‟s climate more inviting.
Host a How You Can Make a Difference orientation session for parents and volunteers each year. Invite school staff to address relevant topics, demonstrate equipment use and provide parents and other volunteers with a packet of timely
Create a Volunteer Center in the school. While it may take creativity, almost any facility can accommodate some sort of welcoming area for volunteers, from a corner of the library to an area in a hallway with a couple of lockers for personal belongings. Put up a bulletin board for announcements and be sure there is a place to sign in and record
Show appreciation. Thank volunteers throughout the year in the school newsletter, at special events and using personal thank-you notes. Consider creating a „Wall of Fame‟ display or bulletin board with pictures of volunteers helping
with school activities and events. Showing what and how much can be accomplished by volunteers can encourage others to get involved.
Create volunteer opportunities that go beyond the traditional tasks that volunteers perform. For example, at the secondary level, consider a “Parents in the Hall Program” which encourages parents to drop in and get their exercise walking at the high school instead of at the gym. After picking up a volunteer/visitor badge at the office, these parents
perform an important service by increasing the adult presence in the building and thereby reducing behavior problems. As
a side benefit, parents get acquainted with the school.
Publish a Volunteer Resource Book, listing the interests and availability of volunteers for school staff members‟ use.
Survey parents regarding their interests, so volunteer work will be meaningful. Be sure to determine how frequently a volunteer would like to participate, including the option of just one time per year. Include options for those who are available to help at home with a community or chapter house meeting. Use the resource book to help match school needs
with volunteer interests.
Recruit one room representative for each classroom who would be responsible for coordinating volunteer activities for
the class. This person would work closely with the teacher, matching interests and needs.
Adapted from: National PTA (2004)
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools
Tips for Managing Volunteers
Use these tips as you plan for volunteers to help in your classroom, school, community or at home.
Provide specific activities with easy-to-follow directions.
Prepare, in advance, the materials volunteers will need.
Clearly specify the length of the session (what time period is appropriate for the
subject and age/grade level).
Explain to the volunteer where to find additional materials, if needed.
Prepare students, in advance, for working with volunteers. Make your expectations
about student behavior very clear.
Keep records so you know which students have had the opportunity to work with the
volunteer and what they have worked on.
Make sure you know and follow school policies for volunteers.
Follow up with volunteers. Ask about their satisfaction with the experience and any
suggestions they might have to improve future volunteer opportunities.
Celebrate and thank volunteers through an 4 annual volunteer recognition event.
Adapted from: Cramer (2003)
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools
Strategies for Engaging and Involving Volunteers
Use these strategies as a planning guide for school wide improvement and/or in the development of the
Educational Plan for Student Success (EPSS).
Strategies How We Can Improve
The school collaborates with families on ways they can be involved: An essential part of developing family-school collaboration is communicating directly with families and
asking them how they would like to be involved and how the
school can facilitate their involvement.
The school provides family members with a variety of opportunities to participate: If parents feel they lack the knowledge and competence to operate within the formal
structure of the school, assist them in becoming comfortable
The school expresses high expectations for family- school partnerships: Make genuine efforts to reach out to
families and assure them that their contributions are valued. The school recognizes diverse family structures: Don‟t overlook other adults in students‟ lives such as grandparents, older siblings or tribal/community leaders who
may play a central role in their upbringing.
The school builds connections between families who speak the same language: Families feel more comfortable
attending school events if they know that other people they recognize and can communicate with will be there or if
translation services are available.
The school provides opportunities for meaningful involvement: Family members are generally more interested in activities that are directly connected to their
child. Inform family members of the purpose the activities
serve and how they relate to curriculum goals.
Design roles and responsibilities that build on families’ gifts and talents: Integrate the wealth of knowledge 5 that families offer into curricular activities.
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools Guidelines for Volunteers
Share these guidelines with volunteers who help in the classroom, school, community or at home. Modify the
guidelines as appropriate for the situation.
Use these guidelines to help you make your volunteer experience valuable for the teachers, yourself and, most importantly, for the students. Remember that whether you volunteer in the classroom, school, community or at home, volunteering is one of the most important things you can do to help build a strong community and improve the achievement of students.
Ask for clarification on any questions you have about your responsibilities, special needs of students
you are working with, time lines and school safety procedures. Share phone numbers and e-mail
addresses with teachers and other parents that you are working with. Avoid interrupting teachers while
they are teaching. Questions and concerns can be addressed following instructional time.
Set aside any supplies or materials that you need. Carry what you need or set aside a place where you
can keep supplies in the school or classroom.
• Teacher’s Lounge
Be clear on the use of the teacher‟s lounge and whether volunteers are welcome to use the lounge for
breaks. Do not feel insulted or offended if parents or volunteers are not welcomed in the teacher‟s
lounge. It is often the only place that teachers have to meet informally to discuss confidential issues
such as school policies and issues regarding individual students.
All information concerning students and teachers is strictly confidential and should not be shared with
others. Don‟t repeat stories and personal information that children share with you.
If you are volunteering in the classroom, call the school if you are coming in late or will be absent. If
you are volunteering from your home, let others who are depending on you know if you are going to be
delayed or not able to complete tasks that you are working on.
Children often ask personal questions and it is best to be prepared to answer them in a polite way.
Have a clear idea of what your personal boundaries are regarding how you would like the students
to refer to you (first name, Mr., Mrs., Ms.) and your willingness to discuss aspects of your personal life.
• Discipline Issues
Most schools have a discipline plan with clear-cut consequences for negative behavior and rewards for
positive behavior. Many teachers add to the school wide guidelines by making a more specific behavior
plan for their classroom. Be familiar with school and classroom discipline plans and what role you will
play in that plan.
• Dress Code and Campus Policies
Attire should be neat, clean, comfortable and appropriate for the school setting. Be familiar with the
dress code and follow it. Advocating political or religious preferences is not allowed on school
campuses. The use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco is prohibited.
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools Resource 7
Show Appreciation to Volunteers
Use this tool to make your school or classroom more volunteer friendly.
______ Greet the volunteer by name; encourage students to use the volunteer‟s name.
______ Thank the volunteer personally each day, noting special contributions he or she made to class.
______ Set a time to talk with the volunteer when students are not present; speak briefly with the volunteer before he
or she leaves.
______ Use the volunteer‟s special talents, knowledge and interests in assigning tasks.
______ Give the volunteer increasing responsibilities and more challenging tasks.
______ Share articles and books of mutual interest on child development, learning styles or content areas in which
the volunteer works.
______ Include the volunteer when planning class activities.
______ Send a letter of appreciation.
______ Take the volunteer to lunch.
______ Call or write when the volunteer is absent or ill.
______ Invite experienced volunteers to train new volunteers.
______ Write an article on the volunteer‟s contributions for your volunteer newsletter or school newspaper.
______ Ask volunteers to help evaluate programs and suggest improvements.
______ Ask the students to evaluate the performance of volunteers; share their comments with the volunteers.
______ Accommodate the volunteer‟s personal needs and preferences to the activities he or she does.
______ Encourage the volunteer to attend appropriate professional development opportunities.
Source: National Association of Partners in Education 7
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools Resource 8
Make Room for Father
Fathers, grandfathers and other male caregivers are often willing to volunteer yet may need extra encouragement.
Use this tool to help increase the number of fathers and males who volunteer.
Involving Volunteers What I Can Do
Ask for volunteers:
• Just like women, men respond better if they‟re
asked directly to join in.
Avoid “Dear Parent” letters
• If you have a mailing directed to fathers, make
sure it greets them as “Dear Dad.”
• Translate letters into home languages.
Make room for two parents
• Send home volunteer forms with space for two
parent names. Encourage both mom and dad
to sign up.
Create events for dads
• Career Day and Dad‟s Day at school are
popular programs that encourage involvement.
Dads and other significant males can see how
much their children appreciate a special day to
be invited to school.
Form a Dads Club
• The group can plan its own activities and fund
raisers and encourage members to attend
regular PTA/PTO meetings.
• They can host movie nights, trips to local
sporting events or an annual Dads‟ Day at
Catch them when you can
• Approach fathers whenever you see them; as
they drop children off at school or when dads
attend PTA/PTO sponsored events.
• Dad‟s involvement can be as small as dropping
by to have lunch with his child.
Stagger meeting times
• Alternate meeting times each month between
two different nights to accommodate varying
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools Resource 9
Volunteer Job Description Template
Use this template to plan for volunteers. Share it during an initial meeting to review roles and responsibilities.
Job Title: ________________________________________________
Who: (What you want…)
What: (List full details about the job needed.)
Why: (Describe benefits to students, teacher and volunteer.)
Contact: (Include the name of teacher or supervisor and where to find them.)
Where: (Place for volunteer to report and work.)
When: (State the day, time and length of commitment.)
How: (List the special qualifications, requirements or conditions for this position.)
Module 4: Volunteering– Teacher Tools
Use this tool or modify it to survey families’ interest in volunteering. Use the results to match volunteer interests
and skills with school needs.
Please complete this survey so the school knows in which areas you may be interested in volunteering. Please return the survey to the school secretary, principal, parent representative or teacher.
We are always looking for ways to improve our school and the opportunities available to the students. Volunteers can help in many ways.
We would like to poll your interest and availability for volunteering. In no way is this an obligation, just an opportunity. After we receive the replies, we will create a list of names as possible sources of assistance.
Please complete the following survey and return to the school office.
What is the best time to reach you to talk about school events or your child?
What is the best time for you to attend meetings, conferences or school functions?
____ Week days Are there particular days of the week that are best for you?
____ Evenings Are there particular evenings that are best for you?
10 ____ Weekends Do you prefer a particular day or time on the weekends?