Have you ever heard the expression "Ask and ye shall receive"? Well it applies to getting volunteers too! I teach in a Title 1 school that has been his hard by the economy. We are very racially diverse, economically diverse, and in my 10 years at my system I have never had a year where I could not get parents to volunteer. In fact some former volunteers are now my closest friends! (HI GUYS! I know you are reading this!)
So, how do I get them? Well, for one I try to be approachable. Teachers can be intimidating! We are on our own turf, we know the ins and outs of our school, we are highly educated, and most of the time, children are just drawn to us like we have milk and cookies pumping through our veins. That can be intimidating. It's a delicate balance between being approachable and keeping your professionalism, but if we are all business we can shut down parents who aren't as educated, who don't dress like us, or speak like us....and we need them.
Secondly, I ask! I am attaching the word document for the letter I send home asking for volunteers. The document is getting a little wonky in Google Docs, but I didn't want to make it a PDF so that it can be altered for your specific needs. Parents are busy and even if they want to volunteer, it's often hard to find the time to volunteer, especially if a teacher is dead set on a certain time. If I can be flexible and creative in scheduling volunteers, then usually we can find a time that works for both of us.
Lastly, I make it fun. No parents wants to come to a class and sit at a table and staple things or cut out lamination while their child is in another group participating in a fun activity. They WANT to be involved. That's why they are there! They want to get to know their child's classmates, and see their child in action. They will gladly do your stapling and cutting, because they want to help, but it doesn't give great motivation for coming back. Ultimately, they are there because they love their child, not you. :) Let them enjoy the thing they love! Try to keep the things that can be done at home, for the parents who truly can't come into a classroom but want to contribute!
Now, I'm very excited to meet my next bunch of volunteers! Yippee!