Sometimes when you are spending 12-14 hours a day in your classroom, the last thing you want to do is volunteer for something else that will keep you at school more. However, I honestly believe that the more you get involved in your school community, the more you will enjoy being there. I mean, hey, if you are going to spend every waking hour at work, you might as well include some extras that you will have fun doing (that is, besides grading papers…). Here are some ways that I get involved in my school community:
Become a Coach! Do you enjoy participating in or watching a sport? I would encourage you to give coaching a try. This is a wonderful way to engage with your students and parent community in a new way. Teachers are already an educational coach; our classroom techniques of teaching and helping our students can easily translate into coaching our students in sports. I have been coaching for the last three years and I have enjoyed it immensely! Coaching has proven to be a great way to deepen my relationship with my students as well as the parent community. The pride you feel when you see your athletes compete is wonderful–similar to the feeling you get when you have been working overtime with a student and they finally understand the concept. Plus, coaches typically get paid, so it’s a nice way to make a little extra money!
Chaperone a dance! If your school hosts dances, I would highly suggest that you chaperone one. It is such a fun experience! Not only is it adorable to see your students all dressed up, but it’s also cute to observe them interacting with each other in such a different environment. As a middle school teacher, chaperoning dances is part of the experience! I find it very endearing to watch my students shyly go up to one another and ask to dance, followed up by very awkward (and sweet) slow dancing. Another reason why I like to chaperone dances is so that I can cut it up on the dance floor and show my “sweet” dance moves (actually it’s an excuse to dance goofy to help them feel more comfortable in their somewhat awkward teenage ‘skin’). If the opportunity presents itself, try it once–I do NOT think you will regret it!
Volunteer to plan or attend a school field trip! I love going on school field trips. Field trips are such a cool way to help your students learn outside of the classroom. I always have so much fun on field trips. Sure, the bus rides can be a bit much–but once you are there, it’s awesome! This year, I am planning my first field trip to a local museum (I’ll be writing a post about that experience); so far the planning has been tedious, but I think it will be well worth it in the end.
Judge a school competition! This year I have judged our school’s Geography bee, dance competition as well as our talent show auditions. I love supporting my students in areas in which they excel other than the subject that I teach. Each experience was such a fun way to support and see my students in a new light! I was so proud of the contestants in each of the competitions, they clearly had spent so much time preparing for their competition and I was proud to witness all of their hard work and dedication to their ‘craft.’
Rally your coworkers to go in on a talent show act! My amazing coworkers and I have done this a few times since I joined our staff and I enjoy it every time. It’s always so much fun to plan, practice and participate; plus, the students always love it so much! It’s fun to show them that we are more than just educators, and it’s fun for them to see a new side of us! We have done skits, dances and flash-mobs! Some teachers have done duets with students in musical numbers as well as participating in the all-staff productions. Go for it and show them what you’ve got!
Donate your time to help raise money! Our school district does a yearly silent auction fundraiser and many of our teachers donate their time to be auction items. I have done this every year and I always enjoy it tremendously. Some of the items I have donated are: a movie and lunch with me (the students pick the movie and food for lunch), a trip to a local science museum with me or bowling with me. For each of these, the students get to bring a couple of friends. The nice thing about our fundraising committee is that they always get the items donated so that all we have to do is give our time–very thoughtful and generous of them!
Start a lunchtime club for your students to join! I did this at the school where I did my student teaching–I ran the knitting club as well as the cultural diversity club. It was a very fulfilling way to connect with students in ways that highlighted and celebrated their interests and passions. At my current school I have run the science club (I plan to bring it back next year!). Find out what kind of club your students would want to start and help them get it off the ground. You might lose one lunch per week, but you will gain so much more by helping them with their club!
Join a committee! I have served on several committees since starting my career as a teacher. It’s a wonderful way to help shape your school community and put your two cents in. I think that sometimes as teachers, we can feel that we are being inundated by decisions that we did not make, yet are expected to follow through with their implementation (even if we don’t necessarily agree with them). By becoming part of the decision making process, you will be helping to turn your school into the type of place at which you would like to work!
I hope that this post has inspired you to get more involved in your community!
-The Ardent Teacher
P.S. Do you have any specific topics or questions you would like me to address on my blog? Leave it in the comment section!
Photo Credit: Jim Larrison (https://www.flickr.com/photos/larrison/)