How to Be in Two Places at Once

A helpful way to think of tasks for a classroom volunteer is to start with saying, “If I had more time, I’d really like to…” Here are few ways that some ABE teachers have worked with volunteers to help them “be in two places at once.”

Advocate with a Landlord

A low-intermediate ESL teacher had a student with an uncooperative landlord. The law was on the side of the student. The teacher asked her classroom volunteer to call the landlord and advocate for the student. It worked! It was a win-win-win for the student, volunteer and teacher.

Communicate with a Reluctant Student

The same ESL teacher had another student with drastic behavior changes. The teacher suspected that the student wouldn’t talk to her about the changes, but might be willing to talk to the classroom volunteer (the student and volunteer were both male and this mattered to the student). The teacher asked the volunteer to help the student organize his notebook in a separate room with the hope that the student would be willing to talk about the changes in private. The teacher instructed the volunteer not to push the student, but see if he was willing to talk. The student was. It turned out he had recently started taking a prescription that caused the changes and the teacher was grateful to be informed about the causes of the behavior changes.

Last-Minute Resume Help

A student came to her teacher and said that she was up for a promotion at work, but she needed to turn in a resume in two days. The teacher asked her classroom volunteer to help the student write it. The effort paid off—the student received the promotion.

Keep Students on Task

A teacher had a group of students that was very talkative. They would often miss instructions or other important information. The teacher asked a classroom volunteer to sit at their table. As a result, the students paid more attention to the instructor.

Now it’s your turn. If you had more time, what else would you do for your students? Could a volunteer do it instead?

Wish you had a classroom volunteer and not sure how to find one? Contact the Minnesota Literacy Council for assistance with finding volunteers.

Burgen Young, ESL Training Coordinator Minnesota Literacy Council