EZPartner Staff Guide Book

This document is available in the Relatrix Help Center and is a guide for school staff who are responsible for entering and tracking resource requests, working with their school partners in meeting those requests and recording the outcomes of their resource requests.

It should be used in combination with Staff Introductory Training that should be scheduled with your district Partners In Education coordinator.

Teacher Request Form Available

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With our 2017.6 summer release we will be making a new form available for EZVolunteer customers to use to help schools gather volunteer requests from their teachers.

Teachers are often looking for help in their classroom during the day or for special projects or field trips. While they may have connections with their classroom parents, occasionally they need help from more school volunteers than they can reach on their own.

The new Teacher Request Form can be set-up so that teachers can fill out the information needed for a campus volunteer coordinator (VolCo) to create an opportunity and send an email to all school volunteers. You can even set-up the opportunity so the classroom teacher receives notification when volunteers sign-up to help.


CLICK HERE to view our full support article and download the HOW TO document for the new Teacher Request Form.

Three Ways To Recognize School Volunteers

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April 23-29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week and the time of year when most schools recognize their volunteers for their commitment of time, energy and talent to work with students, teachers and staff at your school.

Here are three ways to recognize the contributions of your school volunteers:

#1 Get Kids Involved

Face it. A large segment of volunteers in public schools are there because either their children, grand-children or family members attend the school, or because they had been involved in education sometime in their career. Even if that doesn’t describe your most outstanding volunteers, chances are they are there for the kids.

So as a way to reinforce how important their contribution is, ask your students to take the lead in recognizing the school’s volunteers. Something as simple as a Thank You Poster, or a Student-Produced Video can go a long way in showing your volunteers they are appreciated. Be sure to take pictures or videos and add them to your school website so the rest of your community knows and will appreciate their efforts too.

#2 Be Specific

While every school has numerous volunteers and they all bring value to your campus, pointing to specific ways they contribute helps focus attention. So whether you have an individual volunteer or program for which you can create a story, start there.

Use words and pictures to explain the impact that they made on the school, staff or students. Talk about their dedication and energy. Consider interviewing them and learning about their story and what motivates them to volunteer. Be sure you get pictures not just of the volunteer but the outcomes of their efforts. Put it all together in an article that you can post on your school or district website and add to your school’s social media sites.

#3 Go Social

National Volunteer Week is sponsored, in part by the Points Of Light Institute, a national volunteer and services organization. As part of National Volunteer Week they have several social channels to help reinforce and amplify your stories.

TWITTER – Use hashtag #NVM for any posts related to your volunteer recognition activities this week.

FACEBOOK – During National Volunteer Week you can nominate a volunteer at your school for national recognition by using bit.ly/DPOLnom

To see other ways to use social media as part of your volunteer recognition efforts go to the Points of Light webpage (https://ww2.pointsoflight.org/nvw-toolkit)


By whatever means you choose to recognize your volunteers remember that you have lots of data to draw from in your EZVolunteer database. You can track total hours your volunteers work, as well who participates in high impact programs. Don’t let this week go by without making an effort to show your school volunteers how much they mean to everyone in your school and district.

Signing Volunteers Up For Shifts

Sometimes you have an event that needs volunteers to show up at different times for different shifts. In highly demanding activities, like working a football concession stand, you don’t want to ask a volunteer to stay for the entire game, especially if they are a parent wanting to watch their student play or perform at half-time.

That brings up the question how do you allow volunteers to sign-up to individual time-slots or shifts. You also need to be able to breakdown the total number of volunteers you need into the number you need per shift. Then you need a way your volunteers can sign-up both to participate in the event and choose the shift they want to work.

Relatrix can help with that…

With our latest release we’ve added the ability when setting up a volunteer opportunity to include a link to a web form where volunteers can select a time-slot at the event. This link can be to an external service or you can use the Forms Module included with the EZVolunteer system.

The important point is that you can track who has signed up to an opportunity, so they get reminders and you can email them if there’s a cancellation, and you have a record of who to expect for each time slot at your event.



The above example shows a web sign-up form using our Forms module.

This method displays the form once the volunteer has agreed to participate in the opportunity and allows them to see each shift and the number of openings already filled. When they sign-up to a shift the opportunity coordinator gets notified by email and can view and download all form results anytime up to the start of the activity.

This new method of integration shift sign-up helps schools manage a wider range of volunteer opportunities in their EZVolunteer system so they can track which volunteers are working on particular events and record the hours they volunteer.

 

 

Small District Rocks Community Engagement – A TSPRA Round Table Session

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Last week I had the pleasure of working with Karen Anderson of Red Oak ISD to present a session at the TSPRA conference in Galveston, TX. Aside from the wonderful seaside venue the topic was a great case study in how small districts can do a great job implementing a new online process to replace what was largely a paper-based and manual process.

After selecting our EZVolunteer program for volunteer management Red Oak ISD decided to run a pilot project with the software at one of their schools. They wanted to identify the process and procedures they needed to put in place before deploying to their district. The went district-wide at the start of the 2016/17 school year and are already showing great numbers in terms of registered and approved volunteers and volunteer hours recorded.

One new ‘best practice‘ we picked up from Karen was using the Forms module of the system to create a ‘Teacher Request‘ form so any classroom teacher can request volunteers for a project or event. The form is automatically routed to the school’s volunteer coordinator who creates a sign-up opportunity in EZVolunteer and notifies approved volunteers.

You can download the presentation used during the round table session to learn more about the goals for implementing an online volunteer system and the lessons learned to-date, and how Red Oak ISD is rocking community engagement in their district.

Tracking Student Attendance

According to the website attendanceworks.org an estimated 5 – 7.5 million U.S. students miss nearly a month of school each year. In addition, Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the year. Half the students who miss 2-4 days in September go on to miss nearly a month of school.

There can be lots of reasons for absences, from low-income students dealing with housing or transportation issues beyond their control, to student involvement in gangs or drugs, to single-parent households where there is little time to focus on academic performance or attendance.

Whatever the reason for absences, the research consistently shows that it has a dramatic and cumulative effect on the student’s academic performance and prospects for post-secondary education or employment. In fact, by 6th grade chronic absence from school becomes the leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

One of the most effective ways of dealing with absences is to engage students and parents in positive ways and provide mentors for chronically absent students.


Relatrix’ EZVolunteer software can help with student absences in several important ways. First, our latest release includes a new feature for tracking student late arrivals and early departures at school, to help identify students who may be at risk. Second, EZVolunteer can be used to recruit, match and track volunteer mentors working with students who are chronically absent.

Our EZVKiosk module now allows you to setup a separate sign-in (Late Arrival) or sign-out (Early Departure) for students. In addition, we can synchronize your student enrollment at each campus so that students can sign-in or out with either their Student ID or Name and Date-Of-Birth. If you operate at the Elementary School level front office staff can do a quick look-up of the student in the EZVolunteer database and sign-in or out on behalf of the student. Late arrivals get a Tardy Pass to take with them to class. You can also run reports, by school to see which students and how many times in a month, semester or year they arrive late or depart early.


Whether you track students with EZVolunteer or a different attendance system you can identify students with a pattern of absences and then use EZVolunteer to find a mentor with whom to match them. Mentors can make a big difference in reducing absences and improving academic outcomes. With EZVolunteer mentors can sign-in through the EZVKiosk and indicate they are mentoring a student, which then logs the hours spent mentoring that student. Alternatively, mentors can sign-in to their EZVolunteer account and record the hours and which student they are mentoring.

Reaching Your English Language Learner Community

According to the National Center For Educational Statistics in the 2013-14 school year there were 9.3 percent or more than 4.5 million students classified as English Language Learners. Additionally, in all but 14 states the percentage of ELL students increased between 2003-04 and 2013-14.

This means that it is becoming increasingly important in terms of communications and engagement with your community to offer the ability for your families and other stakeholders to receive your messages in the language spoken at home.

The challenge in most school districts is the fact that while ‘official’ communications may originate with the central office, much of the interaction with students, their family and the local community starts with schools. Our data shows that between 60 – 90% of all electronic communications going to parents, volunteers or community partners come from school staff.

This raises the question of whether to use manual or auto-translation when communicating with ELL families and communities. The practical answer comes down to money. Most school districts cannot afford manual translation services for all messaging going to families. It also can create a logistics nightmare when long documents have to be translated into other languages, or when messages about fast changing situations are held-up by re-translating versions.

Where this leaves most schools and districts is making some tough decisions about priorities for manual translation. Usually this involves manually translating more formal communication that is less likely to require lots of revisions, and leaving the balance to auto-translation tools.

That’s one place where one of Relatrix’ most recent updates can help. With our October 2016 release we added the option to auto-translate email notices sent from our Online Community Portal. We have had the option for sometime to translate the content on our website, but this goes further.

Now each school, having some common and yet many times different language makeup in their communities can individually select a set of languages they want to use when publishing notices or newsletters to their parents, staff and community. This translation set can be included at the top of each email message sent from the school’s community portal, providing recipients with the option to view the entire message in their home language.

You can learn more about setting up this cool new feature on your Relatrix Online Community Portal by visiting our Help Center.

 

Recruiting Volunteers – How To Create Interest?

Schools engage parents, community leaders, and business partners to volunteer in and out of the classroom throughout the year. Recruiting these volunteers presents its own challenges – both in terms of finding people willing to serve and matching them with activities in which they are interested.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics school and youth services was the second most active volunteer segment in the US during the 2012 and 2013 school year with over 16.2 million volunteers and more than 800 million hours of volunteer time. So how do you get these volunteers into your schools?

First, let’s examine who volunteers. Thirty percent of volunteers in the BLS study were 35 to 44-years-of-age, and while school volunteerism tapered off with age, seniors volunteered more than 80 hours during the year, compared to a national average of 50 hours.  Among the volunteers with school age children, 44% were moms and 38% were dads. While parents in all educational levels were more likely to volunteer than non-parents, the levels went up with bachelor and post-graduate college education.

Of all volunteers in the BLS report 43% were motivated to seek volunteer opportunities with their school or district on their own, while 40% were recruited by someone in the volunteer organization. This makes outreach to parents, family and community members vital in creating a broad and effective volunteer program.

Looking where volunteers choose to donate their time the BLS report showed that overall the following activities were most popular with volunteers – collecting, preparing and serving food (10.9 percent); fundraising (10.0 percent) and tutoring or teaching (9.8 percent).  Men most often provided general labor or coached, refereed, or supervised sports teams, while women prepared and served food, fund-raised, or tutored students.

Why do people volunteer?  Often parents find time to volunteer in their child’s school to have a first-hand account of what their son or daughter is doing and to get to know the staff. However, according to Joanna Saisan, M.S.W., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Gina Kemp in Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits there are four top reasons why volunteers are motivated to serve:

  • Volunteering connects you to others
  • Volunteering is good for your mind and body
  • Volunteering can advance your career
  • Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life

EZVolunteer helps you reach out to your community to build your district-wide corps of volunteers with eNewsletters on your volunteer and partnership efforts.  You can also send targeted messages to registered volunteers based on their interests (e.g. – coaching or tutoring) and affiliations (e.g. – parents or seniors) to help recruit for specific programs and events.

As an enterprise solution there is no more separate sign-up required for each school where your volunteers will work. EZVolunteer provides a simple online registration process where volunteers choose their schools and interests, and you can screen them in real time before they are added to your list.

The takeaway is that volunteer and partner recruitment is crucial, and like all communications, developing a targeted message to different segments of your community will improve the outcome of your efforts. Make the process of getting involved easy for volunteers and simplify how you manage volunteers from the district and the campus level, and the prospect of beating the average in volunteer numbers and hours goes way up!

To learn more about EZVolunteer visit:
relatrix.com/products/ezvolunteer

To check out the details of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data referenced in this post visit: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.htm

To learn why volunteers engage in volunteering check out http://www.helpguide.org/life/volunteer_opportunities_benefits_volunteering.htm

Four Reasons To Record Volunteer Hours

As you scan down your list of volunteers to determine who to give the biggest shout out, it might be worth noting how much time they really spend on behalf of your schools and students.  While most don’t do it for the recognition, there are some good reasons why you should keep track of volunteer hours.

Reason#1:  Time Is Money

When your school and district can demonstrate on a grant application how many community members are engaged in your schools the chances of your grant award only goes up.  When you can actually provide quantitative data on volunteer hours the odds improve even more.  In fact, more-and-more socially-minded, non-profit organizations require engagement metrics either as part of the application or as part of the reporting of outcomes.  Make your application stand out with verifiable details like growth in volunteer numbers and hours, year-over-year and school-by-school.

Reason#2:  Engagement Equals Student Success

Because the research shows that student outcomes improve when parents actively participate in their children’s education, family engagement is becoming a requirement in a growing number of schools.  Making sure that family and community members are matched to useful in-class or office volunteer opportunities and that you record their hours helps quantify that engagement when looking at end-of-term results.

Reason#3:  Community Partners Seek ROI

Collaboration between your school or district and local partners highlights the business or organization that is working with your students. Often the partner is contributing employee time, as well as other material and supplies.  Tracking all those hours and their value, and then sharing that back with those organizations shows your commitment and can help build an even stronger, sustainable partnership.

Reason#4:  What About House Bill 5?

If you work for a Texas school district, someone in your central office has started pouring over the new education statutes from the recent Texas legislative session.  As part of those statutes in House Bill 5 is a requirement to begin reporting at the district and campus level on ‘community and student engagement’, assign a rating and report the rating to TEA.

While we found no explicit requirement for quantitative data on volunteer numbers and time, what better way to create a metric that addresses accountability, promotes volunteerism, and leans toward legislative intent in measuring engagement in your schools.

In other states there may not be specific legislation yet that requires you to track volunteer hours.  However, there is a growing emphasis by state K-12 agencies and legislatures to quantify and report on community involvement.  We have spoken to districts in several different regions where similar bills are on the legislative agenda.

To learn more about Relatrix and how our EZVolunteer and EZPartner products can help support your efforts to recruit volunteers and partners, as well as record and report hours by campus, visit our website to Contact Us or call our offices at 800.570.6234 ext. 1.

EZVolunteer Selected As “Reader’s Choice Top 100 Product”

District Administration magazine has highlighted 100 products that enhance learning in districts nationwide in its annual awards program.

EZVolunteer has been recognized for making a positive difference in education by K12 leaders who named it to District Administration magazine’s “Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products for 2014.”

The winners, selected by District Administration’s editors from a record 2,400-plus nominations, were products that received the highest number of nominations and best descriptions from K12 leaders. The Readers’ Choice Top 100 has been announced online and in the December 2014 issue of District Administration.

District Administration’s Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products award informs superintendents and other senior school district leaders about products their colleagues around the country are using to help their districts excel in a variety of areas, such as technology, sustainability and curriculum instruction.

“With the Top 100 award program steadily growing in size and recognition each year, all of our 2014 honorees should be very proud of their success,” says JD Solomon, District Administration’s editorial director. “We hope that all of our readers continue to be inspired and find innovative ideas from their peers who have had successful product implementations.”

About District Administration

District Administration provides K12 leaders with critical news and information for school district management, through its monthly magazine, website, e-newsletters and the District Administration Leadership Institute Superintendent Summits. For more information, visit www.DistrictAdministration.com.

About Relatrix Corporation

Relatrix develops leading online community engagement solutions for K12 organizations to build stronger connections with stakeholders in their communities. EZVolunteer helps recruit and manage volunteers, track background checks to ensure safe schools and record where, when and how long volunteers and partners participate in school activities. To learn more about Relatrix and EZVolunteer visit www.relatrix.com.

Contact:

JD Solomon
Editorial Director
District Administration magazine
jdsolomon@promediagrp.com

Jaimee Borger
Executive Director, Marketing & Public Relations
Relatrix Corporation
marketing@relatrix.com