BECOME MORE RESOURCEFUL
Find everything you need to know about volunteering with Dialog to Learn right here!
GETTING THE BASICS
Introduction for Volunteers (Powerpoint Video)
Respond to student emails within 48 hours of receipt of their emails, during regular business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays). For example, if a student sends an email at 11:00 on Thursday you must respond by 11:00 on Monday, or 48 hours excluding the weekend. This provides ample time for you to get back to students in your busy schedules but also allows teachers to schedule ahead.
See the cycle through
It is so important for the program's success and student well being that volunteers participate in the full cycle, 8-10 weeks depending on individual school schedules.
Protocol for absences and early exit
We never want students to feel abandoned by their digital buddy. But we also understand that life happens and sometimes we just can’t be there.
Let us and your digital buddy know if you will be unavailable for a short period of time (a day or two). Make sure your digital buddy knows that you are out of town, in an important meeting, etc. but still thinking of them. You could also write an email ahead of time to your digital buddy and set it up to send as an auto-reply.
If you cannot complete the program for any reason, please let us know as soon as possible. We can work together to find another volunteer to take your place. In this event, we ask that you write an email to your digital buddy explaining that you can no longer participate, enjoyed getting to know them, and introduce the student to your friend, their new digital buddy.
Model correct grammar and language usage
You can guide students toward better language usage through modeling. For example, if a student writes, “My family goed on vacations this summer.” A volunteer could respond with, “I went on vacation this summer too. My vacation was really fun. I went to Disney World for vacation.” By using correcting we are able to teach the specific rule of language that the student is missing. This is an effective method for teaching language and does not discourage students from writing.
Best Practices/Tips for great responses
- Write about the same amount as students - if they write 8 sentences, you should also write 8-10 short sentences.
- Stick to the topics students introduce - if they bring up soccer, talk about sports
- Use full language in your response. Although it might be common to use shorthand in your internal emails, please write out words and use correct grammar. Downloading a grammar check app, such as Grammarly and White Smoke, can be helpful.
- Respond on time and be interested! Most importantly, have fun!
List of topics to introduce
Generally speaking, we encourage students to lead the conversation with topics that are meaningful to them. However, sometimes students may forget to include questions for you or have a difficult time generating conversation. We have constructed a list of topics to discuss. You can find the list here.
Opportunities for feedback
We are always working to improve our program for our volunteers, teachers, and students! Help us by giving feedback! We will send you a short survey via email at the beginning and end of each cycle. If you have something to tell us, you don't have to wait for the survey, send us an email at any time to email@example.com Let us know what you like, what needs improvement, and everything in between!
Confidentiality and appropriate topics
We are committed to providing volunteers and students with a fun and safe experience. Because we are working with kids, it is important that we do not disclose certain identifying information and do not discuss topics that anyone, such as teachers, schools, or parents could find inappropriate. To protect students and volunteers, it is prohibited to share the following information; failure to comply could result in volunteer or student's removal from the program.
Do not share Identifying information, including:
- Last names - we ask that students and volunteers only exchange first names or nicknames
- Phone numbers
- Information that would allow the other person to easily identify you outside of Dialog to Learn's safe environment.
- I live in a house near a park Perfect! We want you to share personal things with your digital buddy and get to know them
- I live in Mountain View across from Rengstorff Park on Rengstorff Avenue in a pink house with blue shutters ✘ This could allow a student or someone they know to easily identify you and where you live.
- Do not in any way indicate your location at any time.
- Do not share photos of yourself, your home or your place of business.
- Inappropriate topics, including topics that could be viewed as influencing students opinions
- Sexual topics or language
- Explicit language
- Political or religious opinions
- If you are unsure whether a topic or word could be considered risque, it is probably best to refrain from discussing it!
- This does not mean we don’t want you to share things about yourself.
- Example: Student asks if you go to church. Your response: No, I do not attend church. No, I do not believe in God. Religion is stupid. ✘
- Do not arrange to meet a student in person for any reason.
Keeping children safe is our highest priority. Report to Dialog to Learn Immediately:
- If you feel the child is in danger for any reason
- Signs of something inappropriate going on at home or school
- If you think a student has written something that could be a red flag, contact Dialog to Learn immediately. Even if it is 'just a hunch' or a feeling of intuition, we can alert the teacher and get the student help if needed.
- Inappropriate language
All emails between students and volunteers are monitored by the classroom teacher and Dialog to Learn.
GIVING THE EXTRA MILE
We are grateful for everything our volunteers do for us! Help us continue improving the lives of low-income elementary school students in your community by spreading the word! Share your Dialog to Learn experience with your friends, colleagues, and family.
Want to get involved in a different way?
Dialog to Learn is currently looking for several volunteers to get involved in a different way.
- Right now, we are looking for a tech savvy volunteer to help us improve our app to better connect students and professionals.
- We are also looking for new volunteers to help us create a fundraising committee so we can keep working hard toward our mission.
Interested? Know someone who might be? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org