Monday, January 7, 2013

Parent Volunteers

This post over at MiniMatisse got me thinking about parent volunteers. Wondering about using signup genius to get parents to help in the classroom. My top priority? Having them photography, upload and maintain our artsonia site. It takes up so much of my time.

Coming from a high school, I am not use to having parents in the classroom. What are the potential pitfalls to avoid?


  1. I am fortunate to have a lot of parent volunteers in the art room - average of one parent per class. I don't use Artsonia because of the time commitment, however I am thinking of doing a trial run with a single class.

    I would ask for a parent with a smartphone and the Artsonia app, and have them photograph and upload. It might be a good way for a working parent to be involved as any 2D work can be photographed at home (instead of during the art period) and then brought back to school. Bonus - the student can help photograph at home.

    You asked about pitfalls: the biggest one may be not having jobs for them. They should never be idle! They want to be useful or they wouldn't have signed up.
    The other pitfall is you can't depend on them 100% of the time, especially before big holidays. They have to shop, decorate, greet guests, and may cancel in-class commitments.
    Lastly (very rarely) a student may misbehave or act babyish when mom is around.

    Here are some tasks I ask my volunteers to do: cut paper (plaster strips, cardboard), file artwork in portfolios, wash the glaze drips off the bottom of ceramics to get ready for the kiln, photocopy, help struggling students or students who were absent during part 1 of the assignment, and cut templates. They are also great at supervising printing stations. In K-1 I ask them to be 'guest readers' for any storybooks we read as part of the lesson.

    I have a separate committee for the art show...they help mat and hang the art, decorate and tear down.

    Parent volunteers are the best!!! I encourage you to sign up as many as you can, and delegate as much as you can. Good luck!

  2. Thank you Rina. This is so helpful. WOW! I have a volunteer lined up for Wednesday so I will keep all of this in mind. It is a parent who is going back to school for art ed and needs service hours so I'm hoping it's a win/win! Again thank you for the detail you provided.

  3. Rina,
    It was awesome! I could use someone every day and still feel run ragged. I will not be shy with the volunteers anymore. She cut paper, sharpened pencils, photographyed, mounted and labeled student work, took down a bulletin board in the hall and hung the student work, prepped 30 small balls of clay for my first graders. All in two hours. I thought she'd get through maybe two of the things on my list...she got through them all which is how I ended up getting a brand new bulletin board today. Thanks for the suggestions!!

  4. So happy for you!

    I would email all the classroom teachers and let them know you welcome parent volunteers in the art room. Emphasize that art experience is not necessary (some folks are intimidated), but art lovers are certainly welcome!
    Parent can volunteer during their child's art time (in the room) or during another time. Some parents like to see their child in a classroom setting.
    Back to school night is over. However, that is the night our classroom teachers line up volunteers. There is a clipboard in each classroom....our school accepts volunteers for art, music, science, computer and media center and we have sign up that night.

    Good luck to you!