A Guide to Volunteering At Parkmead

    Thank You! Volunteering your time and talents in the classroom benefits your child, the school and you – it's personally rewarding and fun. Volunteering creates a natural bridge between home and school and children love to see their parents on campus. No previous experience is required: patience, enthusiasm, dedication, a sense of humor, and a desire to learn are the most important job qualifications.

    The Parkmead staff could not offer the rich education program that we have in place if parents and other community members did not assist us in so many ways. Whether driving on a field trip, working in the classroom or library, or participating at one of many school functions, your presence and energy are appreciated and needed to provide our students with varied, engaging learning opportunities. When you volunteer, you are part of a team – doing important work. For this reason and for liability concerns, younger siblings may not be present when you volunteer.

    If you have any questions about getting involved, please talk to your child's teacher or your parent organization's representative to get some great ideas. Welcome to a rewarding and fulfilling volunteer role at Parkmead!

    On Your Workday: A simple paper trail documents volunteer time spent on-site. Please sign in at the school office when you arrive to volunteer. It is also essential that the office knows who is on campus in case of a school-wide emergency. If for some reason you are unable to meet your volunteer commitment, please make every attempt to find a substitute to work in your place. (A list of classroom substitutes should be available from your teacher.) The children and teachers rely on the dedication and commitment of parent volunteers; a volunteer's absence is always strongly felt. Please alert your teacher to any schedule change by calling the school office at 944-6858 and asking for the appropriate voice-mail extension.

    Becoming a Member of a Professional Team: When you assume the responsibility of volunteering in the classroom, you must agree to adhere to the code of ethics that binds together professionals working in the field of education. Volunteers must use a professional level of discretion, which prevents discussion of students, teachers or internal school affairs outside the classroom. Sensitive issues should always be referred to the teacher first or to the principal, if they cannot be addressed at the classroom level. We all respect the need for confidentiality of students, staff, parents and families.

    If you have a child in the classroom where you volunteer, prepare your child for you time there. While we may enjoy working with our own children when we volunteer, parent volunteer duties involve all students in the class or group. Make sure your child understands that you are not there to spend time with him/her alone.

    In the Classroom: Parkmead School teachers are experienced in working with volunteers of varied backgrounds and interests, and they value both the assistance and the enrichment that the parent talent pool brings to the classroom. Our job is to help students succeed. To help us succeed as volunteers the following guidelines have been developed to provide a foundation for positive adult/student interactions.

    1. Listen Actively and Expect Active Listeners
    Our teachers use attention-focusing techniques such as having the children raise their hands until the whole class is silent. Make sure you have everyone's attention before proceeding. A child needing assistance should be helped one-on-one; try to get down to the student's eye level when communicating.
    2. State Directions Using Positive Language and Convey Expectations Clearly
    Statements such as, “Today we're going to...” and, “I'd like to see...” are effective. Instead of telling learners, “Don't do it that way,” try illustrating what you don't want by asking them,

    “Is this the way?” and respond to the chorus of “No's” with another positive statement: “That's right!” Don't be afraid to let students take risks and make mistakes.

    3. Praise Effort and Acknowledge Success
    •I can see you're really trying
    •You've done really well
    •I like the way you're working
    •Keep up the good work
    •That's right
    •What neat work
    •Very creative
    •Very interesting
    •That's a good observation
    •Now you've got it
    •You really thought that through
    •Good effort
    •That's great
    •Good for you
    •I like your attitude
    •You should be proud
    •I appreciate your help
    •How clever
    •I like your idea
    •You've made a good point
    •Thank you very much

    These are a few examples confidence-building phrases. Be sure to take the time to express interest in a student's completed work before starting another activity.

    4. Avoid direct comparisons of students' work
    Children will sometimes compare work on their own. Try to re-direct student competition to avoid a win/lose scenario: “Yes, Chris has done a really good job. I like the way you have done such-and-such.” A simple, non-judgmental reminder, “We don't use put-downs,” can help, too.

    5. Try to end the session on a successful note

    6. Emphasize the successes of the lesson or project: “I can see how much you enjoyed...I like the way everyone tried...”

    7. Trouble-Shooting
    A proverbial ounce of prevention, used to head off a developing problem, is worth a pound of cure spent trying to salvage a meltdown situation. Serious problems should be referred back to the teachers. Not only have they seen it all before, they have at their disposal all the effective tools of their trade. Not the least of these tools is a sense of confidence about the job, and in time, volunteers acquire that, too.

    Thank You Again: By bringing your individual energy and abilities to Parkmead you are enriching the educational experience of all students in the classroom. Your time, dedication and support are invaluable to teachers, parents, and children.