With our fall volunteer season about to start, this guest blog by our Volunteer Coordinator Emily Rosenberg will give you the ins and outs of volunteering with Behind the Book. We hope you’ll join us for a workshop — or several!
Like Bill Belichick, Behind the Book coaches lead their “teams” to victory. Instead of plotting strategies for the playing field, though, you’ll guide students as they write, research, or create art. Your support and encouragement make a real difference in getting them to work hard and create to the best of their abilities.
The rewards come back to you as well. As veteran volunteer Linda Marchand says, “Volunteering often starts out as a way of helping others, but evolves into a two-way street that expands the perspectives of the volunteer and the students.”
Before your workshop date, the Program Coordinator (PC) will email details about what you’ll be doing with students. All you need to bring is your enthusiasm and love of reading.
The PC will provide more details at the beginning of the workshop to prepare you and your students to work together. When you meet your group, please introduce yourself and share why helping in their classroom is important to you.
For research workshops, you might help direct students to online resources or review books for facts. They will most likely have a worksheet to guide both of you.
Or you might accompany the class on a field trip. Our students and volunteers have visited urban gardens, museums, and local landmarks.
For writing workshops, the students will have completed a first draft. The PC will probably send you a list of elements that should be in the writing piece, which will reflect what they learned throughout the program. For example, if the importance of a first sentence was discussed in workshops, you’ll want to be sure the kids’ first sentence makes the reader want to continue.
BtB’s Teaching Artist (TA) will open art workshops by discussing the style of art in the anchor text or giving some history of art from the time the book takes place. They will also demonstrate the technique, like collage or screen printing, that students will use for the project.
If you’re unsure, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Both the PC and the classroom teacher will be there for the entire session.
Your most important role is to offer positive feedback and encourage your students’ progress. Engage them individually, and give them the opportunity to discuss their work.
Your classroom experience will help your students produce thoughtful written work or beautiful art — and just as wonderfully, you’ll get to share their excitement and pride in their accomplishments.
Sign up to volunteer through our brief questionnaire or contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.