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Integrating adult volunteers into the elementary classroom

1 July 1996


Relationships and interactions between elementary classroom teachers and adult volunteers who assist in their classrooms were explored in this study. Specific strategies elementary teachers use to integrate adult volunteers into their classrooms were examined, as were the thoughts and concerns of volunteers. Literature regarding school volunteers was reviewed. Interviews were conducted with primary and intermediate elementary teachers, parent and non-parent adult volunteers, school and district volunteer coordinators, and an elementary administrator. Classrooms in which teachers and volunteers were working together were observed. Five important elements of the volunteer· experience were identified and explored in the literature and in the field: (1) Recruitment, (2) Orientation/Training, (3) Involvement, (4) Follow-Up Communication, and (5) Recognition. Findings present information in these five categories. A personal plan of action for a beginning teacher to work effectively· with volunteers is included. Findings support the view that teachers must invest considerable time and energy in planning for and supporting volunteers as classroom resources in order to maximize the benefits of their services for students. Specific issues explored in the field study include classroom management, introduction of the volunteer, and room set-up as a consideration in facilitating communication between the teacher and volunteer.


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