As students prepare to head back to school this Fall, teachers and administrators are going to need a great deal of support. Many schools will be using a blended learning format, which means that students will spend a portion of the week in a brick-and-mortar classroom while spending the remaining days doing schoolwork online from home.
Teachers will need to tailor lessons to individual students, maintain safety in the classroom, do contact tracing for any reported illness, and the list goes on. So how do we volunteer safely and help to keep teachers from becoming overwhelmed?
One of the best ways is to volunteer your time and expertise. Here are 7 ways that you can help.
Volunteer to Stuff a Backpack
We already know that teachers typically spend $500 or more on school supplies for their students. That number is only going up. Teachers can no longer keep shared resources in the classroom. Students are now required to maintain their own individual supplies. But where does that leave underserved children – many of whom cannot afford it? And who will pay for the additional safety items like masks, hand sanitizer, tissue, and disinfectant wipes?
One of the best ways to support your school right now is to organize a “Stuff a Backpack” drive. Volunteers buy backpacks and fill them with all the items from the classroom supply list, then give them to the teacher to keep on hand for students in need. Or for those who might rather volunteer online – here are some great ideas for running a virtual school supply drive.
Volunteer as a Technology Advocate
Students who must do schoolwork at home are in need of computers, iPads, and internet access. Schools are also required to provide the technology necessary to deliver lessons to students. All of these things cost money that already-stressed school budgets may not have.
There are organizations and companies that are able to provide technology resources for schools, but it requires time that most administrators and teachers do not have to research and apply for grants. Engaging as a volunteer can make a huge impact on schools, and all from the safety and convenience of their homes.
Volunteer Online as a Tutor
The interruption in education due to the coronavirus has created a crisis for students. Many families are opting to hire private tutors or even create learning pods, which may lead to a larger inequity gap in education for students whose families cannot afford that assistance.
As a result, the need for volunteers to engage as online tutors has increased exponentially. Organizations like Upchieve and United to Learn offer programs using educational platforms that make tutoring simple and easy for volunteers. There are even opportunities for high school students to tutor younger students. And even schools that have started meeting again in-person will be needing tutors to help kids who are behind or struggling catch up on work they may have missed.
Create Hygiene Kits for the Classroom
New safety guidelines will require teachers to keep additional cleaning supplies in their classroom. One of the best ways that you can help is to create Hygiene Kits to take to schools for teachers to have on hand. Here are some suggested items to include in those kits:
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposable masks
- Disinfectant wipes
- Paper towels
- Multipurpose spray cleaner
- Non-contact thermometer
- Lysol spray
- Hand soap
Putting all of the items in a cleaning caddy will make it easier for the teacher to access and put away in a safe location.
Share Your Expertise
Teachers are always looking for subject matter experts to share their expertise, especially at the middle and high school levels. Can you teach a student how to code, share your knowledge of science, or show a class how to apply a basic principle of engineering?
There are numerous programs available to match skilled volunteers with engagement opportunities online and in schools.
Decorate Their Classroom
One parent group in Oklahoma came up with a great way to support their school. Teachers submitted theme ideas for their classrooms, and then groups of volunteers decorated the classrooms in advance. It gave the children and families a sense of contribution and stirred up excitement for the new year.
Parents also researched fun ideas for utilizing the theme in video sessions and included the students in suggesting ways for their class to engage creatively online. Not only did it encourage the teachers, but it also helped the class to feel more connected before school even started.
Organize a Teacher Support Group
Teachers are already overwhelmed by all the tasks they are expected to accomplish in the course of a day. A great way to help relieve the burden of their responsibilities is to create a parent support group. There are so many little things that volunteers can do to help, like:
- Cut out projects
- Gather materials and supplies
- Make copies
- Write encouraging notes or emails
- Research topics/ find additional resources
- Send a restaurant gift card
- Ask how to help and make yourself available to volunteer
- Send a picture drawn by your child
- Tell their principal what a great job they are doing
- Share stories about what your child is learning
Teachers are facing all of the same stressors we are in addition to the pressures of school responsibilities. The more that we can do to help them, the better we will weather this unprecedented season together.
For a great way to set up your volunteer opportunities and network with other parents for scheduling, we offer a free VOMO account to help everyone stay connected to your opportunities.