Are you looking to volunteer at your local school, but don’t know where to get started? You can follow these steps to find a volunteer role that suits you. Use them to determine how to make an impact, measure your success, and continue to grow and learn.
Conduct an Internal Assessment: What and How Can You Contribute?
Before approaching a school with your intentions to volunteer, assess yourself to see how you could put your skills, interests, and time to best use.
- How much time are you able to volunteer?
- What time of the day are you able to volunteer?
- What interests you the most?
- What kind of work would you like to do?
Conduct School Assessment: Identify Issues and Needs
After doing an internal assessment, conduct an assessment of the school. Are there already pre-determined opportunities for volunteers to help? If not, where does the school need support? How might a volunteer serve these students?
- Brainstorm Gather parents, community members, teachers, and/or staff to discuss school issues/ needs, and brainstorm possible solutions. Potentially, this could take place at a PTA or community meeting.
- School Dreams Approach community members and parents and ask them to share their dreams for the school. What could a volunteer do to help make these dreams a reality?
- School Visit Schedule a visit to the school and look for situations, in or out of the classroom, where a volunteer might help. What specific needs did you find? How could they be addressed?
- Ask a Principal Hold a meeting with the school principal and ask in what ways you can volunteer. You may want to send an email introducing yourself, your background and how you would like to help. Be sure to share your interests and skills, but also your flexibility. Do not approach a principal without having an appointment.
- Ask a Student Meet with a single student or a small group of students and ask about their dreams for the school. Ask what assignment they would give to a volunteer. Holding a discussion with a student can help spark ideas.
Outline a Volunteer Plan
After establishing the needs of the school, create a volunteer plan. Work with a classroom teacher, school principal, staff member, or club/sports leader to create your plan. Your plan should outline the expectations, time commitment, and knowledge needed for each volunteer position.
After creating a volunteer plan, think of goals you want to reach through your work. A classroom teacher, school principal, staff member, or club/sports leader that you are working with can help establish these goals (he/she may already have goals in mind). What need are you addressing? What does a successful end result look like? When will your work be finished? What do you hope to achieve, both personally and for others?
Share Your Plan and Goals
Share your plan and goals with parents/guardians, friends, adults, and community members. By sharing these details, you may learn of specific tricks, tips, or further ideas on how to make an impact. You may also come across ways that others contribute. In sharing your plan, you may get other parents or guardians to volunteer with you!
Have you volunteered in a school? Was there a program in place or did you work with someone to build one? Let us know in the comments!