It's important to set a positive and encouraging tone when interacting with volunteers, especially in cultures where volunteering is not common. Everyone has different levels of commitment and capacity, and you must find ways to keep them engaged and feeling rewarded by their efforts.
As you work with your volunteers over the course of the pilot, keep these principles in mind:
- Enable and encourage: Remember, your role is to provide support for the volunteers to do work in the classrooms. You won't have the capacity to work with every class, especially as your program grows beyond a small pilot. Your role is to ensure your volunteers have everything they need to do their roles successfully.
- Don't dictate; guide: You may have the benefit of more experience, but you don't know everything. And your volunteers are your most precious resource. Make sure you're not dictating to them, but guiding them. Say things like, "Other Ambassadors have found letting students connect with them on Facebook has led to greater student engagement with the Wikipedia assignment. Do you mind if students contact you on Facebook?" If they say no, that's okay — but give them an opportunity to come up with an alternative method of achieving that student engagement.
- Thank and recognize: Volunteers give us something precious: their time and energy. Always be aware of this, and thank and recognize them for their participation. Everyone's motivated by something different — spend some time learning what motivates your volunteers and do your best to ensure their experience is fulfilling.