7 Ways to Help Your Parent Volunteers Be More Effective
Even teachers who have their master’s degree in education can use some assistance in the classroom, and today, schools across America are increasingly reliant on the help of students’ parents. Parent volunteers play an important role in modern education. Not only are they great resources for teachers and a solid support for the school community, but parent volunteers also demonstrate to their children and others that school is important and worth the time and effort.
Students benefit greatly from parent involvement in the classroom, and this is demonstrated in better test scores and grades, improved attendance, a positive attitude toward education, and an increased likelihood of advancing their education. The upsides for parents include an increased confidence in the school, stronger parent–teacher communication, and earning the respect of their child’s teachers. In fact, some parents are even inspired to go back to school and advance their own education.*
Teachers place great value on their parent volunteers. While an MS in Education (MSEd) degree can enhance educator effectiveness and improve student success, many teachers also want to improve their collaboration skills and better partner with parents to help them deliver on their promise to the children, the school, and the community. From a teacher’s perspective, there are many advantages to having parent volunteers, including assistance in the classroom, increased ability to incorporate more active and engaging lessons, and improved morale and job satisfaction from having reliable resources available.
Though it may seem daunting to be responsible for not only educating 25 students but managing parent volunteers as well, there are many ways to help parent volunteers be more effective without creating too much additional work. Here are 7 tips:
- Survey your needs. Before each school year, determine where you could most benefit from parent volunteers. Do you need more classroom mentors, student tutors, or help with special projects? Make a comprehensive wish list so you’re prepared to communicate your needs.
- Recruit smarter. Parent–teacher conferences and open houses at the beginning of the school year are great opportunities to recruit parent volunteers. While some may proactively ask and offer their assistance, be sure to ask for help outright. If you don’t, you likely won’t get the volunteers you need. Get to know your volunteers and learn about their interests, strengths, and areas of expertise so that you can best utilize their skills and knowledge.
- Open all communication channels. Everyone is busy, so the more channels open for communication, the better. Consider an online scheduler for efficient sign up. In addition to the traditional flyers and newsletters, opt for e-mail, website, text, or even social media communication to engage with parents where they already are. Let them know you won’t abuse the outreach but will only communicate relevant updates and important information.
- Clearly communicate expectations. Indicate the time involved and the frequency—whether it’s a certain number of hours or days per week, month, or quarter. Working moms and dads who want to contribute but think they don’t have enough time to spare can then easily understand the overall volunteer commitment and be sure to fit it into their schedules.
- Specifically plan for volunteers. Volunteers don’t want to arrive without direction or anything to do. You know they’re coming, so make sure they have clear instructions and everything they need to jump right in when they get to school. When volunteers feel useful, they’re engaged and anticipating their next opportunity to help.
- Give and ask for constructive feedback. Like anyone, parent volunteers want to know how they are doing and how else they can be of help to you, their child, and the rest of the class. You should also ask how their experience was and if they have any suggestions for improvement.
- Show your appreciation. Gratitude goes a long way, and thanking volunteers will help ensure they return. Include students in the demonstration of appreciation when possible.
Parents can be great partners for teachers and schools, and modern schools of education recognize that. Walden University’s online MSEd degree program prepares graduates to collaborate with families, communities, and other professionals to promote positive social change and create a collaborative learning environment that contributes to student success. Developing these skills is one of the five central learning outcomes for the MSEd degree.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Education program with a variety of specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission http://www.hlcommission.org/.
*PTO Today, Involvement Matters: What to Tell Parents, on the internet at www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/399-involvement-matters-what-to-tell-parents.
Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.
Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Educator Certification Section of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-353-8567 or alabamaachieves.org to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits
Note to all Washington residents: This program is not intended to lead to teacher certification. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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