Saturday, March 14, 2015

Prep This, Please! Putting Classroom Volunteers to Work

I'm the first to admit I don't use parent volunteers a whole lot.  Sometimes I feel bad about it.  I just am skeptical of having parents come in and work with kiddos.  Mostly because I'm a control freak.  But I also get a bit concerned about confidentiality things with my students.  I enjoy doing my own bulletin boards.  I like things organized and I like to know where I put them.

I like control.

But we do have a bunch of middle school and high school students who need service hours and I absolutely love having them pop in my classroom to help out.

Sometimes I know my helpers are coming ahead of time and sometimes I don't, and sometimes I just plain forget and they show up.  So I have a list of helpful things for them to prep or work on for me.  None of which are on any timetable and are just a way for me to stay ahead of the game and to make my teacher life easier one day in the future when I have a last minute idea or am less that prepared*.    *that never happens, right?

Our district does this cool class for high school seniors where they have a few weeks of class, and then are set up with another classroom teacher in the district and the rest of their class time is spent in our room.  So every day she comes to my class for her class.  She has a few assignments she has to get done (read to the class, make a bulletin board, teach a mini lesson, etc.) but for the most part she is just there to jump in and help out!  It's awesome!  But yesterday for a solid 45 minutes she couldn't be in our classroom (I had a special guest + 15 other teachers + all my usual students in there already...) so I had a table all set up of things to do for her.  So while our class was busy in the classroom, she was working on putting folders together, folding paper, and stickering cards for me... I felt like I was the world's greatest multitasker even though I wasn't doing the work.

She's my regular, but I have other students pop in from time to time to help out.  Here are a few things I like to have my volunteers work on.

1. Put sticker labels on card sets:  I always have at least one set of vocab cards or scoot games or other card sets lying around just waiting to be sticker coded and ready to be completed.  I have a pretty organized system for this, but I have my stickers ready for any volunteer who may pop in.

2. Fold big construction paper in half: I use construction paper folders constantly, so I am that teacher that grabs a class set of each color to hoard in her classroom.  Please fold all of these in half.  Yes, all of them.

3. Take anything off of a wall: This whole wall.  Have at it!

4. Prep foldables: I probably don't even have a project in mind for a certain foldable yet, but having them prepped and ready for when I do decide to jump headfirst into an activity is really awesome.  Helpers are fantastic at cutting, folding, or stapling.  Plus, it doesn't have to be perfect because the kids won't notice or care.

5. Put folders together: I have writing folders that are prepped for each writing unit, so having volunteers put these together for me saves me a bunch of time.  Then they're just miraculously ready when I need them!

6. Cut things I don't care about (I care.  But I don't care.  Ya know?). Anything that doesn't take a paper cutter (I'm a stickler, I tell ya!  No one chopping off their finger under my watch!) is fair game for my volunteers.  If you can cut it with scissors, it probably isn't something that's going to bother me if it's a bit crooked at times.

7. Separate and staple book orders: I actually really like doing this myself because I love book orders, but sometimes time is money, my friends, and this saves me time!  I tend to send home a stack of book orders at a time, so having someone separate and staple is a huge time saver.  My helpers are super at putting these suckers together.  This goes for anything else that I plan on sending home now or in the near future.

I have a bunch of other things I may have my helpers do, but these are my "go-to" projects.  Do you have class volunteers?  Anything you like to have them work on?


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