Even the most respected and veteran teachers can use extra help in the classroom. Parent volunteers are a great resource for teachers. Their involvement demonstrates to children the value and importance of education. Additionally, it helps to build relationships between guardians and teachers and lets the guardians know that they are welcome, respected members of the community. Studies show that students benefit from guardian involvement in the classroom. According to Walden University, this is reflected in many ways:
- Higher test scores
- Better grades
- Improved attendance
- A positive attitude toward education
- A greater likelihood that students will continue their education
However, getting and keeping parent & guardian volunteers in the classroom can be a challenge for many reasons. Let’s take a look at four proven practices for engaging volunteers.
1. Utilize Digital Communication Channels
Many teachers still rely on sending flyers and notes home requesting parent & guardian volunteers, or don’t know how to communicate their need or desire for volunteers. But the majority of parents and guardians prefer to receive communication digitally. Opening the digital communication channel, such as through an app, will allow you to engage with them through their preferred method. This will keep them better engaged in the long term.
With an app-based communication platform like SchoolCNXT, guardians can easily access information from their mobile phones. App-based platforms also allow teachers to create groups to share volunteer information and organize participation. Plus, anyone can initiate two-way messaging, so you can keep the lines of communication open.
2. Utilize Strengths
When seeking volunteers, don’t forget to appeal to natural strengths. How can they bring their cultural background, history, heritage or language into the classroom? Perhaps invite them to participate in heritage events to share their culture or encourage their attendance at career fairs to showcase minority and gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace. By inviting guardians to share who they are and where they come from, you are more likely to appeal to a larger audience. In addition, they will feel seen, respected, and valued for who they are and what they can bring to the table. This will keep your volunteers coming back and excited to participate in lessons and activities.
3. Engage working Guardians
According to Edutopia, 73% of guardians indicate that their work schedules prevent them from volunteering regularly — or at all. This can make securing parent volunteers challenging for teachers. But by thinking outside the box and using communication tools and technology, teachers can provide more opportunities to volunteer.
For example, using a virtual platform, teachers can make it possible for working guardians to participate in reading circles remotely. Guardians now have the option to join the class through a live video feed. Guardians can also record and share videos of themselves reading, conducting an experiment, leading an activity or presenting a lesson. Creative use of virtual participation can lead to an increase in volunteering and therefore community building.
4. Show appreciation
Recognizing the time, work, and effort volunteers put into your classroom will go a long way toward encouraging those guardians to keep participating — it can grow your volunteer pool! It’s so important to let your volunteers know how much you value their contributions to your classroom. You can send pictures and video messages from you and your students, thanking volunteers for all they do for your class. Consider giving public shout-outs to volunteers by posting to your class page or volunteer group. Appreciation is motivating; it encourages guardians to continue volunteering and inspires others to get involved.
How SchoolCNXT can make your parent engagement efforts easier and more effective
SchoolCNXT is a mobile app-based communication and family engagement platform. By creating groups, teachers can share schedules and calendars, along with images and videos, with a volunteer group to keep everyone informed and interested. By doing so, you provide multiple opportunities for working guardians to engage in virtual forms of volunteering. This open communication also encourages teachers to reach out to parent volunteers to offer praise and show appreciation.
SchoolCNXT can be an important tool to help you take volunteering to the next level. To learn more about how it can help you engage guardian volunteers in your classroom, contact us today. Or, download our latest white paper, “Why Aren’t Our Family Engagement Tools Working?”