Many volunteers come every year to our education program to help students in low-income communities. The most common question from volunteers is “What am I going to be doing?”.We pair each volunteer at a school that will benefit from his/her knowledge; the profile of each volunteer is different, some might be good at music, or math, or sports, or computer literacy, so this is taken in to account before placement. The most common type of support that is asked by schools is English teaching, however, if you have a very specific skill that is beneficial to school children do let us know!
Work hours are usually Monday through Friday from 8 am-2pm and the academic cycle varies per country. In Guatemala, for example, it is from mid-January to early October. In Costa Rica, this is from mid-February to late October, so it’s best to pick a time that matches the academic cycle of your destination.
A few things to keep in mind when volunteering in as a teacher:
1. Have a sunny disposition: There’s no better way to transmit enthusiasm to school children than to have a positive attitude towards the class you are teaching.
2. Be proactive: Have suggestions or want to add extra content? Please let know other teachers or staff. We encourage volunteers to be as proactive as possible. Although remember changes come in small increments, so don’t expect to change the world in a few days.
3. Be an example: Remember kids look up to you as a role model, so everything you do in school is important; from the clothes, you wear to the way you behave. If you are unsure of how a certain behavior might be interpreted, please ask your volunteer coordinator.
4. Be playful: The best way to keep students engaged is to keep the class fun, by every now and then delivering educational material through games. You can discuss what materials and games you can prepare with other teachers and staff.
5. Be realistic: You want to teach French in 3 weeks? That is very difficult. Remember to keep your goals down to earth, and if they are long-term goals remember to keep a journal about your class so the next volunteer can pick up where you left off.
With good planning, a positive attitude and the right knowledge you can make an impact in the lives of the children you teach.