Volunteering is a great way to be involved with your child's school and make it a better place to learn. Before you begin, there are a few necessary issues to consider when thinking of being a volunteer in your neighborhood school:
1. Background checks: Due to heightened security, schools require all staff and volunteers to have criminal background checks on file. Please do not be offended when asked to submit to these checks, as everyone is required to do so for the safety of everyone in the school.
2. Location: Some schools have policies which do not allow parents to volunteer in their own child's classroom. There are issues which can arise when a parent and child are together in the same room which can be a distraction from the real job of learning. If your school has this policy, please do not stop volunteering, as you are making a valuable contribution to the students, just as you hope someone will help in your child's classroom.
3. Confidentiality: When you enter the school environment as a volunteer, you do not stop being a parent, but you must also think of yourself as a professional. When people spend large amounts of time in any office, classroom, or educational setting, the possibility exists where you may hear privileged information about other students, staff, or parents. If this happens, it is imperative that you do not share what you have heard with others, but maintain a sense of professionalism and confidentiality within your role.
4. Support: As a volunteer, your role is to work to support the teachers and staff as they work with students. There may be time when you do not like the way something is presented, or you don't like something being taught. However, please be aware that teachers are trained as professional educators and plan as best they can for their students' needs. If you have questions about a lesson, discussion, or other classroom issue, please discuss it privately with the teacher, not with the students present. Undermining the teacher's authority will not be productive in the classroom.
5. Security: If you see anything dangerous or hazardous for the students, notify the teacher or administration promptly. Many schools have school resource officers on-site to look into safety concerns. The more eyes that are watching, the safer your school will be.
As a volunteer, you have the ability to help many students receive a richer and fuller educational experience. By being a volunteer, you demonstrate your commitment to the education of all of your community's children. Thank you for helping all children!