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Feature Friday ~ Planning With Precision

This month's Feature Friday is Denesha from Planning with Precision.  

In the beginning of my teaching career I never even thought about having parents volunteer in my classroom. I was excited and overwhelmed all at the same time but it never occurred to me to ask for volunteers. For years I managed to do everything in regards to my classroom by myself. It wasn't until my 5th year of teaching that a light bulb went off in my head and I began to ask parents if they wanted to volunteer in the classroom from time to time. I have never looked back. I love having parents volunteer in the classroom. I will say that it does take some organization to get things running smoothly, but once your systems are in place it's fantastic. Having parent volunteers not only helps me but also provides assistance to my students and builds classroom community at the same time.

I usually start by asking parents what times and days are good for them to come volunteer. We then create a schedule. I have them come in one day or two either during lunch or before/after school to do a brief training of what they will be helping me with. This works wonderfully. For the parents that will be doing prep work and copies, I have a specific box that they go to to see what needs to be done. The trainings and procedures are important because this means I don't need to stop any of my instruction because volunteers already know what needs to be done. The volunteers that work with students also know what is expected which keeps my instruction continuous. 

Below I have listed 5 great ways to utilize parent volunteers in the classroom!
 1. Centers
I have literacy and math centers each day and having parents help manage my centers is extremely helpful. For most of my centers I keep the structure the same and only the content changes. This helps everyone know exactly what is expected. 
2. Making copies
This is a tedious but necessary job. Parent volunteers are more than happy to help with this. It's important to train them on how to use (and troubleshoot) the machines and you're good to go. This includes any other machines they may be using such as laminator, die cut machine, poster maker (you get the idea)
3. Prepping materials for lessons
As busy teachers, we can all use help prepping for our fabulous lessons. I just glance at my lesson plans and pull out whatever materials are needed to prep. These materials go right in my “parent volunteer” box with a brief set of instructions (and sometimes an example). This way with a volunteer walks in my classroom, they go right to the box and can get started right away.
4. Prepping classroom supplies
It's always a challenge to get a handle on all my classroom supplies and keep them organized. This is where my volunteers come in. I have them organize center baskets, sharpen pencils, organize the classroom library, file papers and anything else that needs to be managed in the classroom on a consistent basis. You can tailor this to your specific needs.
5. One on one reading 
I have my students on a rotating schedule where they get to read to a volunteer. This provides structured and targeted practice for an individual student.
At the end of the school year, I have a “volunteer tea” to thank all my parent volunteers and they love it! 
So if you aren't using parent volunteers in your classroom but are thinking about it, I highly recommend it. Just refer to these tips and modify them to fit your needs.

~Denesha Janrhett (Planning with Precision)

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