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Working with Educational Assistants and Volunteers

Safe to say that even the most experienced teachers could benefit from an extra set of helping hand to help them navigate through their lesson in their classroom. This is especially true when you look at the continually growing class sizes in schools located in urban areas. When you mix a large number of student all showcasing different personality types and learning styles with some students with special needs or exceptionalities. It can present any teacher with a variety of challenges they need to maneuver through. So how does a teacher teach a class in a way where every students individual and collective needs are met? Depending on the class this is where educational assistants and volunteers can come in handy. Most provinces do not have a very specific job description regarding the job of an EA other than to educationally assist where needed. Often times, EA are hired or assigned to a particular student, students or class to give individual attention to a student with specific learning needs. Therefore, it is crucial for teachers, volunteers and EA to work together and communicate well in order for classes to run smoothly. Here are six options to help ensure working with educational assistants and volunteers run smoothly.


Give them an Organized Binder with Class Information

With both volunteers and educational assistants it can be very important to give them organized binders or folders with all the class information. The class information they may need is class lists or seating plan, dates of all assignments due dates, all test dates, school map, emergency procedures and your contact information. Depending on the volunteers or EA's job in your classroom the information in the binder or folder can be modified to suite the duty assigned to the EA or volunteer.



Have Regular Meetings

Having regular meeting for volunteers and EA is a very excellent way to ensure all adults that enter into your classroom are on the same page. Meetings can also serve as an excellent way to update volunteers and EA's on any changing needs of the class or particular students. By meeting with all the EA's and volunteers it can also be an excellent opportunity to clear up any miscommunication that may have occurred in the time leading up to the meeting. Whether the meeting is regarding a field trip or regular classroom activities, having more meeting than just the initial start of the year meeting can only help you lead all the adults who enter your classroom.


Communicate

No matter what the age, everyone benefits from clear communication. Clear communication is something that is crucial anytime multiple people are involved. This is especially true when volunteers, educational assistants and students are all involved. Come up with a method that works well in your classroom to ensure that ongoing communication is happening with all volunteers and EA's. Some methods of communication that could be used include hand written notes, emails, or spending five or ten minutes at recess or lunch to touch base. At the end of the day it is clear communication that needs to happen.


EA and Volunteers the Equally Important Adults Helping to Ensure Academic Success

When working with educational assistants and volunteers it is important to always remember that they are just as important to your students success as you are. They are the individuals who will potentially have the time during class to give particular students individual assistants when needed. Lets face it, as a teacher often times it can be a challenge to find time in class to work individually with each students. This is where educational assistants and volunteers can be very helpful. While you are teaching they can work one on one with a struggling student to help ensure their success or they can help you manage your large class while you spend time individually with a student. Even though most educational assistants and volunteers do not have their education degree, they do help assist in learning. So in many ways their jobs can have some similar dimensions to that of a teacher.





Give Clear Instructions

Giving clear instructions to the educational assistants and volunteers is very important because it will help class, field trips or events to run smoothly. Clear instructions can either be verbally communicated, written out or emailed to those involved. By giving volunteers and educational assistants clear instructions it will allow them to know exactly what tasks you would like them to do and at what time. With instructions be sure to give them time frames or specific times things need to be done if the events require specific timings to be met.

Express Appreciation

For anyone who is helping to assist in your classroom or on field trips, it is important to always express appreciation to those individuals who made your job easier. Depending on the subject area you teach, often times volunteers to chaperone on trips are needed. Therefore it is important that all volunteers and educational assistants feel valued and appreciated. This could be in the form of a simple thank you note or card, a phone call, or an email. Whatever method you choose to use to thank individuals who contributed to helping the class, event or field trip run smoothly deserve a thank you.

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