Volunteering with Junior Achievement is a rewarding experience for professionals, students, and parents throughout Greater Washington! Read on to learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions our volunteers have.
Preparing for the Classroom
In the Classroom
Preparing for the Classroom
What exactly will I be teaching?
You'll be teaching financial literacy programs created by professional curriculum development staff at JA Worldwide. JA programs begin at the elementary school level, teaching children how they can impact the world around them as individuals, workers and consumers. JA programs continue through the middle grades and high school, focusing on the key content areas of financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship.
What is the time commitment for a JA volunteer?
At the elementary school level, you'll be teaching five 30-45 minute lessons. At the middle and high school levels, you'll be teaching five to seven lessons of about 45 minutes each. Volunteers also spend about 45-60 minutes familiarizing themselves with each lesson's curriculum before presenting it to the classroom. We also strongly encourage volunteers to visit the classroom once before beginning the lessons.
What time of day would I be teaching?
The vast majority of Junior Achievement classes occur during normal school hours - typically 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., though the exact hours will vary by district. Volunteers coordinate with the classroom teacher to determine the exact time of day and day of the week that you'll visit the classroom.
What if I have never worked with students before?
Don't worry! Many of our volunteers haven't been back in the classroom since graduating, and yet finish their lessons eager to teach JA again. All JA volunteers are provided with training by JA staff, and the classroom teacher will always be present to deal with any issues that may arise.
Do I need to create the lesson plans and activities?
All of the lesson plans and activities are provided in an easy-to-follow guidebook, and the program kit that you'll be provided includes all of the materials necessary to implement the programs.
Do I receive any sort of training before entering the class?
Absolutely! All JA volunteers are trained by Junior Achievement staff before entering the classroom. We regularly hold training sessions in Washington, DC, Montgomery County, and Fairfax, VA, and will conduct on-site trainings for large groups of volunteers and online trainings for those who are unable to travel to our offices.
How do I become matched with a class?
When you complete a volunteer application, you'll have the opportunity to indicate your interest in teaching a particular grade level or teaching in a specific region. A JA staff member will then find available schools that match your criteria, contact you to confirm your availability, and then schedule a training session and provide you with the information and materials needed to start your class.
When do I visit the class?
JA strongly encourages all volunteers to visit the class they'll be teaching in at least once before beginning the lessons. The day and time of the classroom visit will be scheduled directly between you and the teacher.
Will I be alone in the classroom?
No - the teacher will always remain in the classroom to assist with any issues that may arise.
How can I find out where JA volunteers are needed?
Check out our list of schools searching for volunteers, which is updated at the beginning of every month.
Can I teach in my child's class?
Absolutely! Many of our programs are taught by parents who would like to become more involved in their child's class. Indeed, several local schools that JA programs are offered in are taught entirely by parent volunteers!
How does volunteering to teach a Junior Achievement program benefit businesses and their employees?
Junior Achievement's programs:
How does volunteering to teach a Junior Achievement program benefit college and university students?
- Provide volunteers with professional development experience by creating opportunities to practice and refine their public speaking and presentation skills.
- Offer volunteers a fun and rewarding break in their typical work schedule.
- Encourage camaraderie and cooperation between volunteers who team-teach their lessons and companies that participate in JA in a Day events.
- Contain important lessons on business ethics and corporate responsiblity.
- Help businesses prepare and train their future workforce.
- Offer students the opportunity to learn more about local businesses.
- Enable businesses to visibly give back to their local communities and meet their philanthropic goals.
Junior Achievement's programs:
How does volunteering to teach a Junior Achievement program benefit parents?
- Enable volunteers to explore education career possibilities by teaching children in a grade level of their choice.
- Create opportunities for college students to practice and refine their public speaking and presentation skills.
- Help business majors better appreciate their field by becoming the teachers for a younger generation.
- Offer a fun and rewarding break from academic studies.
- Provide team-building experiences for college students who choose to teach together.
- Allow volunteers to make a positive impact on the lives of today's youth.
Junior Achievement's programs:
How can my company become more involved in JA?
- Allow parents to spend time with their children and experience school life first-hand.
- Provide parents the opportunity to demonstrate support for their children by becoming actively involved in the classroom.
- Offer parents a fun and rewarding break in their typical work schedule.
- Build camaraderie between parents who team-teach their lessons.
- Provide parents with opportunities to practice and refine their public speaking and presentation skills.
Companies can support students by volunteering in a classroom, participating in a school-wide JA in a Day program, or volunteering at Junior Achievement Finance Park. Companies can also participate in our year-round JA Bowl event, or attend the Washington Business Hall of Fame in the late fall of each year.
What can I do if I want to be involved but I simply do not have the time to volunteer in the classroom?
Donate to Junior Achievement! Most of our programs are provided to educators free of charge, which means that we're reliant on dedicated individuals such as yourself to support our programs. Additionally, you can also register a team or get your company involved in the JA Bowl. Lastly, tell a friend, co-worker, or a family member about Junior Achievement's volunteer opportunities! Each year more and more teachers request JA programs for their classrooms, so we're always looking for new volunteers!
In the Classroom
After I receive my classroom assignment, what should I do next?
The first step will be to contact the classroom teacher you'll be working with. The teacher's contact information will be included in the materials we provide you with when you receive your program kit.
Who should I contact if I'm having difficulty with my assignment or if I'm unable to follow through on my volunteer commitment?
Please contact the staff member responsible for the state your assigned school is located in if you experience any difficulties at all:
What type of information should I request from the teacher before entering the classroom?
What should I wear when visiting the school?
- Determine the specific dates and times you'll be entering the classroom.
- Discuss classroom roles and class management.
- Find out whether parking is available at the school.
- See if there are any particular school and classroom rules are in effect.
- Find out where to check in when you arrive at the school.
- Exchange emergency contact information in the event of school delays or closings.
- Determine what action to take in the event that you or the teacher are absent on the day of a scheduled visit.
All volunteers should dress as they would at work when entering the classroom - business formal or business casual are both appropriate.
What should I do if I am unable to attend a scheduled session?
Please contact the teacher as soon as possible so that they can create alternate lesson plans and so that you can reschedule your visit. Be sure to give your teacher at least 24 hours advance notice.
What kind of support should I expect from my teacher?
This depends upon the specific teacher you're with - some may become actively involved and relate the current topic of discussion to lessons the class has already covered, and some may simply help to maintain order during your visit. All teachers will remain in the classroom at all times.
What should I do if the teacher is absent?
You and the teacher should create an absentee policy before the first class visit, as some teachers may prefer to be present on the days you conduct your lessons, whereas others will have no objections to you teaching with a substitute teacher covering for them.
What can I expect from the students?
Many students have had JA volunteers in their classrooms before and are excited to have a JA volunteer in the classroom again! After your observation, review all classroom procedures and rules with the teacher and let the students know that you will maintain the same standards.
How do I reward and recognize students?
Review the instructions in your program guidebook for specific suggestions. Saying "thank you" when students respond to your questions is always appropriate! If you want to bring candy or other token items for rewards, please be certain to check with the teacher first. Often, something as simple as sticking colored dots on their table tents as a reward for participating can be a big hit, especially with elementary school students.
What do I do if I lose control of the class?
Refer all discipline problems to the teacher. Work together with the teacher and allow the teacher to enforce class rules and deal with behavior issues. Remember, you are the classroom guest, not the disciplinarian.
What can I do if I'm not reaching all of the students or if some students aren't participating as much as others?
Realize and accept that each student will respond differently and will learn and communicate in a unique way. Quiet students may be just as engaged as active students. Likewise, don’t be surprised to see students who are uninvolved or appear uninterested. Ask your teacher about these students to see if they have any insights on how to draw them out or if this is normal behavior. Don't become discouraged! Be sure to vary your activities and methods to capture different students at different times. As students get to know and like you, they will be more engaged and responsive to you. Be patient with yourself and with them. Above all else, create a learning environment that is positive, fun and rewarding.