How It Works
A Step-by-Step Guide to JA for Educators
The information on this page (which is in a document you can download by clicking here) outlines in detail the process of hosting a JA program in your classroom. This is a resource you can refer to when needed, whether you are new to JA or one of our long-time education partners. Here's how it all works:
- Class Requests. We receive the class request either from the principal or directly from the teacher/grade level coordinator, and place the class information into our system where we can begin recruiting volunteers. You will receive a confirmation email when your class has been added to our system.
- Volunteer is assigned. When a volunteer is recruited and assigned to your class, you will receive an automated email with the volunteer's name and email address. The volunteer will also receive an email with all class details and your email address, and will be instructed to contact you to finalize the details of the program visit schedule. If you have provided any timing preferences, or there are only specific times when the class is available, those are conveyed to the volunteer; however, final confirmation of visit days and times is up to you and the volunteer working together. If you do not hear from your volunteer within a week or so of the assignment, please feel free to drop them an email. Let us know if you have any trouble getting in touch. NOTE: We assign volunteers to over 300 classes per year, and we typically concentrate on the ones with the closest starting times. If you have requested a Spring semester time for your program, you may not hear from us again until your program time gets close. Rest assured, your class is still in our system and getting our attention in recruiting efforts, but if you have any changes in the class information or timing preferences, please do let us know. Also, be aware that we assign volunteers as we can get them. Not all classes at a school or in a grade level will necessarily have their volunteers assigned at the same time, so if your colleagues have gotten their volunteers but you haven't, please be aware that we are working hard to recruit your volunteer as quickly as possible and will contact you as soon as we do.
- Start Date. Program start dates are extremely important! Except in rare cases where program dates are pre-determined, we require that the volunteer provide us with the start date of the program soon after assignment, so please be responsive and work with the volunteer early on to establish at least a general timeframe for your program. If your program will be scheduled a long time after the volunteer is assigned (e.g., the volunteer is assigned in October, and the program will occur in March), we can accept a temporary start date of "March" immediately after the assignment is made, then as March gets closer, we would expect an exact start date by about two weeks before. We plan and prepare for materials and other needs based on the start date given to us by the volunteer, and it is very important that we have the most accurate start date we can get as soon as we can get it. When setting your start date, keep in mind that if we need to order the materials, it will take a week or more. It's best in most circumstances to set start dates at least two weeks ahead, and communicate them to us immediately. One of our biggest issues is volunteers who contact us on a Tuesday saying, "I'm starting my program on Thursday – can I pick up my kit today?" Because of budget and storage space considerations, we are not able to stock all program kits all the time. We try to plan ahead as much as possible, but without start dates at least a couple of weeks in advance, we can't be sure to have enough of the appropriate materials available on short notice. In addition, a majority of JA staff members work part-time and may not be able to respond to requests immediately.
- Materials. Classroom materials are generally prepared and provided to the volunteer several days or a week before the provided start date, so they can have time to prepare the lessons. First-time volunteers attend training before beginning their programs. Volunteers are encouraged to meet or correspond with the teacher, or even do a brief classroom observation visit in order to familiarize themselves with the students, the classroom, the rules and protocols, teacher's styles and preferences, etc. They may or may not have the time for this step, but please be responsive and give them what they need to prepare a good program for your students.
- Class Roster. Volunteers will need a class roster in order to prepare personalized completion certificates for your students. Some volunteers also use the roster to prepare name tags or table tents before the program. If you can have a copy of the roster ready for them upon their first visit or provide it a few days before the program begins, this would be very helpful.
- Volunteer Conduct. We expect volunteers to keep their visit appointments and arrive on time, except in unavoidable emergencies, in which case they should contact you and make arrangements to reschedule/make up the lesson. We also expect them to behave appropriately in the classroom and to complete the entire JA program (they may follow the guidebook more or less strictly than you would; give them some leeway, but they should be doing our program and not just anything they feel like doing). Please don't hesitate to contact us if you are having an issue with a volunteer! The earlier we can address issues, the better.
- The Guidebook. Usually, the volunteer's kit will contain an extra copy of the curriculum guidebook, which the volunteer should give to you. You will be able to see what is upcoming in the program and if you like, you can use some of the guidebooks's supplemental activities between volunteer visits. You can find out more about each program by clicking here.
- Be a Resource and Stay in the Classroom. Please be a resource for your volunteer in the classroom. Help maintain discipline, assist in handing out materials, and provide input for grouping students when an activity calls for it. You know your students much better than the volunteer, and can advise the best way to group them for an activity. Remember that the volunteer likely comes from a different profession and is probably not a trained teacher. He or she may need your help with classroom management and organization. Some volunteers are even a little bit intimidated by this experience and may need some reassurance. By law, it is required for a teacher to remain in the room the entire time the volunteer is present.
- Verification. Upon the completion of the program, we ask that you complete and return a program verification form. You can do this online by clicking here or by using the link we will send you by email, or you can use the form attached to that email. This verification is extremely important to our operation and can impact how we continue to provide our programs in the future. Please don't skip this important step! It is also an opportunity to provide valuable feedback about the volunteer and the program. You may hear from us several times until we receive your verification. It only takes a moment and is much easier immediately after the program ends than weeks later, so please make this a priority. Note: we will contact you to ask for your verification at the time we believe the program may have ended, based on schedule information we have in our records (which should have been supplied by the volunteer). If you had a delay in the program or we have incorrect information in our system, you may receive our request before the program has ended. In this case, just reply and let us know when you expect the program to be complete, then hold the verification until the program has concluded. IMPORTANT: If you have hosted more than one JA program, please submit a separate verification for each one – do not combine classes to report on all of them on a single form or online submission! We have to report classes separately and will need the student count for each individual class, even if they all had the same volunteer. If more than one volunteer teamed up to present one program, you don't need separate a verification for each volunteer; just one form per class. You can submit feedback about all the volunteers for that class on the one form.