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Educator Offers Tips for Being an Effective Classroom Volunteer

(November 29, 2011)

SEATTLE, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/29/11 -- Paddy Eger, a veteran teacher, parent trainer and volunteer, and author of "Educating America 101: Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms" (www.paddyeger.com), knows from experience that volunteers in classrooms make a huge difference, especially with schools and teachers under so much stress.

The pressure comes as states continue to slash education budgets to accommodate declining tax revenues and schools respond by trying to squeeze even more out of their beleaguered teachers. The result? Class sizes grow, planning periods are cut and each student gets less attention.

Eger has developed a number of simple strategies that allow adult assistants to both maximize their usefulness and minimize distractions to the teacher:

  • Do your homework: If the teacher provides materials for an activity, don't expect him or her to walk you through it. Take time to read the directions and gather supplies days before your classroom visit. If you have questions, schedule a meeting that's not at a time when students are in the classroom. Do not expect to meet with the teacher unannounced for "just a minute."
  • Choose your seat wisely: Don't sit at one end of a rectangular table. Sitting in the middle seat along one side allows you to see all of the students and reach out to touch their work. It also makes you part of the group, and allows you to speak in a softer voice. For round tables, sit so you -- not the students -- face nearby tables or other distractions.
  • Be prepared for a change in plans: Have a "pocket activity" ready in case a schedule change means you'll have less time with the children. This is a simple game, such as a math or spelling game, or a book or news article that can be started or stopped at any time without losing its value.

"With a little training and a handful of strategies, most adults can effectively assist both teachers and students," Eger says. "While they can't solve all of the problems associated with drastic budget cuts, they can help ensure students feel as little of the sting as possible."


About Paddy Eger

Paddy Eger is a 20-year teacher from Washington State whose years as a trainer in the Parent Cooperative Education Program created the basis for her. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in elementary education.

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