Reading Seed Policies
The following policies can be found in the Reading Seed Volunteer Handbook.
Policies are in place to protect you and your students and to ensure the program runs smoothly for every participant. Volunteers who are in violation of the policies below will be referred to the Volunteer Manager and may face dismissal from the program.
- Students – For the safety and privacy of the students and their families, your relationship with the student exists within the school setting only. At no time should you plan to meet with students outside of school. Any letters or postcards for the student should be mailed to the school.
- Parents – You may have the opportunity to meet students’ parents, in which case, you can talk about students and their progress but are not allowed to instruct parents on reading practices. You should also not arrange to meet with parents at any time, nor should you send correspondence to them via the student. Any letters given to the student should be positive, encouraging letters addressed to the student only.
- Relationship with Reading Seed and Literacy Connects Staff – Reading Seed staff is here to support you as needed. Email is the best way to communicate with staff. Literacy Connects staff can provide support while on campus.
- Relationship with School Staff – You should strive to keep your relationship with school staff professional, respecting their time and their efforts to prioritize the students at their school. If an issue arises, Reading Seed staff should be informed immediately.
- Leaving school with the child or meeting anywhere outside of the school – Refer to the relationship with students section above.
- Initiating physical contact or having the child sit on your lap – Sometimes the student may want to give you a hug or hold hands. Keep this interaction brief. High fives are okay.
- Photographing any child at the school with any device – You should not attempt to take photos of any student at their school at any time, including assemblies or other school functions. The only time a volunteer is allowed to have a photo of the student is if the teacher provides one. Volunteers should not provide their email address to parents in order to obtain photos of the student.
- Offering the student food, drinks or candy at any time – Schools have very strict restrictions for food due to various diets, allergies and nutritional needs. Do not take food to sessions or to the classroom.
- Providing expensive or inappropriate gifts – Reading Seed highly discourages volunteers from purchasing gifts for the students that are not reading related or that would show favoritism of any kind. If in doubt, talk to the teacher or Reading Seed to see if a gift is appropriate.
- Examples of appropriate gifts include: books, book marks, small school supplies items, or book/story-related items
- Examples of inappropriate gifts include: eye-glasses, tennis shoes, iPads, perfume, jewelry, money, personal photos, gifts for the family, etc.
- Procedures at Literacy Connects Campus – When visiting Literacy Connects, be sure to always wear your Literacy Connects lanyard and sign in at the front desk when you arrive and sign out when you leave. Staff will alert visitors of next steps in the event of an emergency. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911.
- Procedures at the School – Each school has safety and security procedures in place. Your School Site Coordinator can inform you of these procedures. Be sure to listen to school staff in the event of an emergency as they will instruct you on next steps. If you are conducting a coaching session when an emergency occurs, find a staff member and listen to instructions.
You may have access to information that is confidential. You might be tutoring a friend’s child or a child that is a neighbor. You may hear a conversation regarding a family or school issue that was not meant to be overheard. All information relating to students’ home lives is private. All volunteers must agree to keep what they hear to themselves and should not share personal information with anyone. However, volunteers can always discuss their coaching experience with the student’s teacher, their School Site Coordinator and Reading Seed staff in order to share insights, progress, ask for clarification, or raise specific concerns.
Reporting on Child Welfare
If a child discloses information that suggests that he/she is in any type of danger (at home, in school, in the neighborhood, with relatives, etc.), you must report that information to the school principal, nurse, or teacher before leaving the school that day.
Discrimination against students, teachers, school staff, and Literacy Connects staff on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status, language, political beliefs, familial or parental status, or sexual orientation is prohibited.
The following policies and procedures are in place to ensure that the program runs smoothly and that each student is served well.
*Positive Language With and About Students
Literacy Connects’ approach to working with students is strength-based and student-centered. We acknowledge that the words we say to and about students can be internalized or can have harmful effects on those who hear. All volunteers should use positive language when speaking to and about their students and should strive to recognize their strengths, capabilities and the value of their experiences. For example, try saying, “This student loves to listen to me read. We have a great foundation to build on,” instead of, “My kid can’t read,” or “My kid doesn’t like to read”.
*Use of Electronics during Coaching Sessions
The use of electronic devices should be avoided during sessions. However, we understand that sometimes, the use of electronic devices is necessary for emergencies and they can also be a helpful tool in aiding comprehension. Use your best judgement to determine if they should be used. Cell phones and tablets may be used with discretion and for the following activities briefly:
- Keeping track of time.
- Responding to an emergency phone call.
- Showing a video or photo that expands comprehension (e.g. video of meerkats communicating to build background knowledge while reading The Lion King).
Texting, reading or playing games using electronic devices during sessions are highly discouraged.
*Any volunteer who fails to uphold the two policies above will be referred to the Volunteer Manager and may be required to attend further training.
Absences and Tardiness
We understand that a volunteer may want to take a vacation or may need to take some time away from their students. Follow the communication guidelines in the Reading Seed Coach Responsibilities section above in order to do so.
If volunteers find themselves excessively absent, we recommend becoming a substitute Reading Seed coach instead. Excessive absences include, but are not limited to:
- Consistently missing one or more sessions a month
- Missing more than two consecutive sessions at least three times throughout the school year
- Missing sessions without communicating with the school or Reading Seed staff
Excessive tardiness may mean that your schedule is not working for you. Communicate with your Program Coordinator to discuss different schedule options.
In an effort to be consistent in the message of our mission and goals, volunteers are asked not to speak to mass media sources such as newspapers, magazines, radio programs, or television stations regarding Reading Seed or Literacy Connects without prior approval.
We reserve the right to use photos of any volunteer who has signed our media release form for our publications, multimedia productions, displays, advertisements, promotional materials, or website postings. Photos and video footage by Literacy Connects staff and/or professional vendors taken at large events such as the Literacy Connects Volunteer Appreciation Event, the Holiday Reception, an Open House, or Super Saturday (etc.) are subject to event media policy.
You should dress comfortably for coaching sessions, in clothing that is not distracting or offensive to students or school staff. Clothing should also not promote the use of alcohol, drugs, or violence.