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Use Technology to Get More Parent Volunteers

Use Technology to Get More Parent Volunteers

By Elena Krasnoperova

For teachers, getting parent volunteers in the classroom can be a real hassle. As the founder and CEO of a tech company that creates communication software for classrooms (and mom of two!), I meet a lot of teachers and notice that most of them are still managing volunteer signups the old-fashioned way.

Others are asking parents at Back to School Night to sign up for a weekly commitment that lasts the entire school year—committing that far in advance can be daunting for parents, particularly those who work full time.

“If you publicize volunteer opportunities and make the sign up process simple, you may be surprised at how many parents will spend more time in the classroom.”

As a result, a teacher might end up with only a few die-hard volunteers who do everything, or no volunteers at all. Yet, in most schools, parents would love to be more involved in the classroom, if only it were easier to do so.

More: Encourage Virtual Inclusion in the Classroom With a Teacher Blog

Now, technology makes it easier than ever before to get more parent volunteers. If you publicize volunteer opportunities and make the sign up process simple, you may be surprised at how many parents will spend more time in the classroom:

“When schools invite and encourage parent involvement, parents are more likely to become engaged,” according to Empowering Parents Through Technology.” Not to mention, 65 percent of parents wish they could do more, according to PublicAgenda.org.

The first step in taking your parent volunteer signup process into the digital age is to choose the best service for your needs. Here are a few to choose from:

Like any other educational technology, not all programs are effective for every classroom. Use the sign up service checklist to evaluate the potential solutions.

Signup Service Checklist

◊ Is it easy for you to communicate?

To maximize your success in getting parent volunteers, you need to let parents know when help is needed. The service you choose should make it easy for you to send out announcements and requests and don’t forget that you’ll also likely need to have parent email addresses to make these solutions work.

◊ Is it easy for parents to sign up?

The easier it is for parents to volunteer, the more likely it is that they’ll do it.

◊ Is it easy to change commitments and get others to fill in?

Schedules can change, and parents may need to back out. The service you choose should make it easy for parents to decline a commitment they’ve already made, and for other parents to know that this spot is now open.

◊ Are there automated reminders?

Even the best intentions to volunteer can go awry when parents forget that they signed up. Look for a solution that sends automated reminders to make sure these classroom responsibilities don’t get forgotten.

“Look for a solution that sends automated reminders to make sure these classroom responsibilities don’t get forgotten.”

◊ Is it easy to set up recurring events? 

Many teachers have recurring volunteer opportunities, like a library volunteer or a reading helper, but the same parent can’t always commit to the same time slot. If this is important to you, choose a solution that makes it easy to set up recurring events with all different volunteers.

◊ Is it easy to ask volunteers to bring stuff?

Sometimes you need parent volunteers to bring things with them—like food for a classroom party. Choose a service that makes it easy for you to specify when you want people to bring items, and how much you need. A simple notes section would be effective.

◊ Is there a free option?

Assess the options to ensure you’ll get enough value out of the free option, or consider a small investment in the paid version for added value.

It’s true that learning to use a new system, even an easy one, doesn’t happen quickly. But, when you have more parents in the classroom, you’ll see that it’s well worth the time. Not to mention, the tool you choose will make your life easier and help provide your students with an even better classroom experience.

Use your new volunteer service to find parents to help with an online Learn2Earn fundraiser.

WRforSchools
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