Volunteer Engagement – Top 7 Tips

Tip 1 Attracting People to your Organisation

So many charities, so little time! Ensure that your charity is at the top of the list. Volunteers will tell their friends and contacts about their work with your charity. Help them to recruit new volunteers for you. Provide them with up-to-date information about the work of the charity. Give them newsletters, flyers, promotional goodies and gifts that are useful. This will help spread the word about the charity and provide the volunteer with something tangible to help them tell the potential new recruits about the organisation.

Tip 2 Recruiting Volunteers

Preparation is key to the successful recruitment of volunteers. It is worth taking the time to draw up a brief outline of the role you want the volunteer to perform, the types of skills that will be required, the ideal number of hours to be worked and an overview of the environment the volunteer will be working in. Consider how you will advertise the role (remember that volunteers currently working with you could be your best marketing channel, so make sure they are aware that you are recruiting!). Other methods could include online recruitment via dedicated volunteering sites to appeal to those who regularly use the internet, adverts on internal notice boards or maybe as an advertorial in the local newspaper. Always remember to monitor your success rate with each method used.

Tip 3 Induction is Key

Your new volunteer has arrived and is eager to start putting energy into the role. People who volunteer are giving up their discretionary time and want to make a difference, feel valued and happy in the knowledge that they have done a great job. A formal induction from day one of their time with you provides a welcome and introduction as well an understanding of the basic rules of the workplace. Written policies and procedures demonstrate professionalism and an outline of how volunteers are expected to work within your organisation. Providing a formal induction programme for your volunteers will give them knowledge to start the role with confidence.

Tip 4 Train and Develop

Ensure that your volunteers continue to be trained and developed once the initial induction has been completed. Ongoing learning and development for your volunteers is vital to ensure that they carry out the duties they are required to undertake in a professional and knowledgeable manner. It is an investment that will bring short and longer term rewards. Consider the different ways in which you provide learning for your volunteers. Make use of structured on-job training, coaching, mentoring and other skills development learning activities. Always ensure that you keep records of the learning and training you provide for your volunteers. Remember to relate the new skills, knowledge and behaviour back into the work environment.

Tip 5 Leadership

How clear is your mission? What are your organisation’s values? How does your leadership team communicate the strategy? Your volunteers need to be motivated by the cause and the work that you want them to do. The engagement of your volunteers will be influenced by the degree to which the organsiation’s core values are communicated, understood and demonstrated by your senior management. The work of your volunteers should be directly linked to the organisation’s overall strategic objectives and measured on a regular basis. Volunteers can then recognise how the work they do has a positive impact.

Tip 6 Innovate to Retain Your Volunteers

Your pool of volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Many will be in full time employment and have little spare time so you need to consider how to keep in touch with them, how to provide meaningful short term project work, how to make use of their skills from a distance. Create opportunities that can be done online, or provide flexible hours or specific projects that can be managed around the volunteer’s other commitments. Consider the impact of the rising retirement age and how this will affect the reducing volunteering hours available to you.

Tip 7 Communicate

How do you keep your volunteers informed and involved with the organisation’s activities? What channels of two way communication do you use? Is it easy for volunteers to have their say? In order to encourage feedback, involvement and commitment, use as many different communication channels as you can. As well as formal surveys, consider forums, focus groups and intranet-based options. Make use of the internet and social networking sites. Appeal to a wide audience and remember to keep up-to-date with the information being communicated.

14 Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers

Classroom management was the biggest challenge I faced as a substitute teacher. Walking into a class for the first time, I was clueless about the absent teacher’s classroom procedures and expectations for students. Some students would use my ignorance as a weapon to their advantage. They would find ways to test my patience and manipulate the classroom environment for their personal gain. Others had antisocial personalities. They saw my presence as an opportunity to express their disrespect for authority.

In this negative environment, power struggles and other disruptions would inevitably arise. At that point, it became extremely difficult to get the class back under control.

Over time, I picked up some classroom management tips to help minimize student disruptions and make lesson plans run more smoothly. If you are a substitute teacher, here are several tips you can use immediately to create a more positive classroom environment:

Tip 1: Start each day by making sure that the students enter the classroom quietly, and begin the class on time. This will help establish the structure you’re working to build and maintain.

Tip 2: From the very beginning, establish your expectations of the students. Make sure each student understands the importance of following both the classroom rules and the teacher’s lesson plan. When you make your expectations understood, you’ll help set the class on the right tone.

Tip 3: After they’ve found their assigned seats, introduce yourself as Mr./Mrs./Ms.___________. Write your name on the board. Unless the school says otherwise, students should never call you by your first name. They won’t treat you with respect if you let them treat you as a peer.

Tip 4: Take attendance and (if applicable) the lunch count. Say the students’ first and last names, and ask them to raise their hands so you can see where they’re sitting. Tell the students to inform you if they prefer to be called by another name. Attendance reporting is one of your most important jobs. Pay careful attention to the required procedure and the accuracy of the marks you’re making. To minimize errors, I used a ruler when I went down the list. If you don’t know what to do, ask another teacher or someone from the office for help.

Tip 5: Announce the names of the absent students to make sure that you didn’t give an absent mark to a student who should be marked present (or vice versa). There may be two attendance rosters to complete: the office roster and the teacher’s classroom roster. If so, make sure that you complete both, and carefully compare them for accuracy.

Tip 6: Make sure that students remain in their assigned seats for the entire day. The teacher should have left you with a seating chart. If you can’t find it, ask a student for help. While taking attendance, you can draw up your own simple seating chart if one isn’t available.

Tip 7: When covering elementary school classes especially, take frequent head counts of the students. It’s a good idea to do this when they first enter the classroom, when they line up on the playground, after recess and lunch, and after you’ve escorted them to and from another campus location. And when working with younger students, remember to talk at their level–both orally and physically.

Tip 8: Do your best to stick to the teacher’s lesson plan. Explain instructions clearly and write them on the board. Let students know that you’re there to help them with their work.

Tip 9: Remind students of homework assignments and any other items the teacher mentioned in the lesson plan. To make sure they understand, you might want to have the students orally paraphrase the important points. If they are required to keep a homework journal, remind them to note their assignments in it.

Tip 10: Recognize the importance of flexibility in the classroom. No sub has followed every lesson plan to the letter. In some classes, even the best-designed lesson plans may not work as the teacher intended. By redirecting the students to a related assignment or activity (and leaving a note to the teacher explaining what you did), they are more likely to remain on task (and out of trouble!).

Tip 11: Get the students involved! Ask them to answer questions or explain concepts that their peers have raised. If students finish early, have them help other students who are still working, or tell them to sit quietly and read. If the students are cooperative and well-behaved, you can allow time for a game or other class activity at the end of the day.

Tip 12: If you know nothing about the subject that you’re there to “teach,” have the students work in small groups. I once covered a high school French class, but I know almost no French. I had the students work together in groups of about three. I assigned the more capable students to help those who were struggling.

Tip 13: If you have teacher’s aides or volunteer parents in your class, take advantage of all the services they can provide! They among other things work with students individually or in small groups. They can also help you understand the classroom routine and the special needs of individual students.

Tip 14: As difficult as it may seem, avoid forming friendships with the students. Children who are abused, neglected, or ignored seek attention from adults in ways that would go beyond the scope of this article to describe. They need stability and won’t get it from a teacher who is at school one day and gone the next.