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The RE-SEED Model
We trained our volunteers in a 32 hour training program which emphasized the most recent pedagogy for science education, oriented the volunteer to the modern classroom environment, emphasized the role of the volunteer versus the role of the teacher and prepared volunteers with a set of demonstrations and experiments that could be useful in support of the teacher’s lesson plan. Each volunteer received a kit of experimental materials. While the volunteer was being trained we arranged for them to work alongside an experienced volunteer to gain classroom experience. We also provided follow-on training to keep the volunteers aware of new techniques and approaches.

It was important for the teacher and the volunteer to meet and develop a plan for how the volunteer will work with the teacher in the classroom. By understanding the concepts to be taught each week, the volunteer could contribute ideas to the teacher as to how they can help. Some of the things volunteers did included:
• Perform experiments and demonstrations. The volunteers lead activities or supported the teachers in doing activities. Volunteer also suggested additional demonstrations and experiments and assisted in assembling materials. This was especially helpful for young teachers still developing their repertoire of useful activities. Where a school district utilizes “kits” to implement a standard curriculum, our volunteers often took the same training as the teachers in the use of the kits and were able to closely coordinate their activities with the teacher in implementing the standard curriculum.
• Answer questions. The teacher could explain concepts one, perhaps two, ways. The volunteers had a lifetime of experience explaining science concepts to those without science background. Over half of student comments on surveys said ‘he/she made it clear and simple and I could understand’ or words to this effect.
• Told stories from their career that illustrated concepts in an interesting way. Students loved stories and volunteers loved to tell them.
• Taught a segment where the volunteer had strong content knowledge and the teacher liked the help and wanted to learn themselves.

Not all teachers were comfortable bringing a RE-SEED volunteer into their classroom but those who did never regretted it. Our survey of teachers in the Boston RE-SEED Center area reported 100% of the teachers who had a RE-SEED volunteer wanted a RE-SEED volunteer the next year. Our volunteers were also very satisfied with the experience and 70% returned to the classroom the following year.

Requesting a volunteer
The teacher was the one who initiated a request for a RE-SEED volunteer to work with them in the classroom. The teacher was asked to have the acknowledgement signed by the principal giving permission for the volunteer to work in the classroom if the district or school had not given blanket permission. We then began the search for a volunteer who was a good candidate for the needs of the teacher. Sometimes this was a quick process and sometimes the teacher would need to wait for a new volunteer to be trained. We kept the teacher informed as to our progress in locating a suitable volunteer.

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