Parent volunteers in middle school can be tricky to find. I admit that I was always jealous of my elementary teacher friends. They had classroom parties, room moms, and parent volunteers for field trips. I was mentioning this to a friend and she said asked, “Have you asked them? Just make a quick sign up form”. So I did. I asked parents to return the form with various options checked as to what they were able to assist with. It was incredible and well worth the time to get it all set up and organized.
I am well aware that there is a large discrepancy in the amount of parental support a school receives.
Some schools have more volunteers than they know what to do with, others are lucky to get a handful of parents at Meet the Teacher Night. I have taught in both types of schools.
This post applies to both, mostly because I believe the majority of parents want to be involved in their kiddos education.
My husband always says, “don’t say someone else’s no for them”.
parent volunteers in middle school
I think that middle school gets a bad wrap. Teachers feel like it is difficult to connect with parents and parents go from having one point person to communicate with to upwards for eight. I admittedly forgot it was Western Day at school last week for my 20 month old son, and I only have one child. Thankfully he will not remember, it will be our little secret. Alas, there is a lot of keep up with and as a teacher you feel that pain. If you would like to increase your the parent involvement in your classroom, I think you will be surprised with the response. Some parents are grasping for ways to connect to the school. And research shows that schools with increased parent volunteers have students who are more successful. So much so, that it is one of the Critical Success Factors of a School in Need of Improvement.
make volunteering easy
I would suggest creating a quick and easy way to sign up to volunteer. Keep things simple and manageable for parents (and yourself, lets be honest).
Think about different tasks that would be helpful for you that a parent could do while at school. Here are some suggestions:
- make copies
- organize and sort supplies
- decorate bulletin boards in the hallways
- assemble bulletin boards in the classroom
- decorate door
- hang student work
- text book inventory (if you are responsible for your own books)
- special projects – these will come up as the year goes on, I left it open ended
- use a special skill to assist with a club
Think about different tasks that would be helpful that a parent could complete at home. Here are some suggestions:
- help with the class website
- solicit donations within the community
- assemble snack bags for testing
- do research for class field trips (pricing, availability, etc)
- assemble data folders (blank, of course)
- assemble games/cards
- cut lamination
Asking for help
I simply organized a little check list form with the different options. This was part of my First Day Packet that students returned. You might consider asking at Open House, on your class website, sending an email with a Google form to complete if they are interested, or personally asking parents that you have interacted with before.
I then created two separate email lists (on campus vs. at home volunteers). When I had lamination that needed to be cut, I would send an email out to my at home volunteers and tell them that I had an opportunity to help by cutting lamination and the date in which I needed it returned. A sweet parent (or two) almost always volunteered. I would get the everything laminated and then send it home with the student with baggies and instructions. It meant so much! It was one less thing for me to do and it meant that I didn’t plan a lesson around the fact that it would require too much prep.
The Copy Mom/dad
To me the most valuable and time saving volunteer I had was a copy mom. This was essential and literally saved me hours each week. It also forced me to be prepared for the next week before she came.
Once I was able to see who was interested in making copies, I contact them individually and organized a rotation. Ideally you could get four volunteers, one per week of the month, but if you have two or even one that would still be a big help.
Here is how it worked:
- I would send a reminder earlier in the week and ask them to confirm they would be available. This helped me to better prepare.
- I created a copy slip with all the details (number of copies, single vs. double sided, stapled, etc). If you have a copy code include that as well.
- I used a pocket folder that I kept next to the door in my classroom.
- As I planned throughout the week, I would attach the copy slip and place it in the folder.
- On Thursdays, my copy moms would grab the folder, make the copies, and return them to the room.
Disclaimer: These volunteers will likely need to fill out a background check, FYI. Also, to keep everyone happy be sure to let the school secretary know what you are doing and ask her to show you the ins and outs of the machine, so you can train you volunteers. You might even introduce the volunteers to the secretary.
I would recommend a thank you note and a small gift at the end of the year for these kind parents who are busy too! A thoughtful note and something small goes a long way.
Here is the thing about middle school, it is a time when kiddos are stepping out on their own and sometimes even just a small opportunity to volunteer gives parents another touch point. It also helps build rapport, it opens communication lines, and even parents who might not feel comfortable at school, are able to be a part.
It doesn’t hurt to ask.