Volunteer FAQ

Q: I want to get involved! Are there any requirements before signing up?

A: The only requirement before volunteering is to sign this UNC release form and return it to the CWS Coordinator. Please print out the form, sign it, and either e-mail the completed form or bring it to the circulation desk in the House Undergraduate Library. You only need to fill out the form once.

Q: What if I can't commit to volunteer on a particular date right now?

A: That’s okay! You can subscribe to the e-mail list to get a weekly email of the classes that are being taught and if volunteers are still needed for that week.

Q: Are there any requirements to instruct a class?

A: Not exactly. We do strongly recommend that you sign up as a floater for at least one class (even if you have previous teaching experience) before signing up as an instructor, just to get a sense of how CWS classes work. We also suggest attending one of the orientation sessions that we offer at the beginning of each semester, since this provides additional information and an opportunity to talk about the CWS with experienced instructors. But there are no formal requirements, and you are welcome to get involved at any time during the semester!

Q: What do I do if I missed the Orientation Session?

A: We have tried to include as much helpful information on the website as possible. Take a look at the pages under the “For Volunteers” tab to review this information. Also get in touch with the CWS Coordinator to find out about getting involved and to ask questions you have.

Q: What is the difference between an instructor and a floater?

A: The “instructor” takes the lead- being at the front of the class, guiding the direction of the lesson and setting the pace. The floater does more of the one-on-one assistance and asking of questions, checking to see if people look like they have gotten behind or need assistance. That being said, floaters are very important to the success of CWS classes, they are able to help make sure participants don’t get behind and answer individual questions so that the whole class doesn’t get off track. Floaters are also welcome to jump in with relevant information and examples, or if there is something you think needs more explanation. There’s so much you can talk about in these classes, there’s no way for any one person to cover it all on their own, so really think of this as a team effort.

Q: What should I do if one of the other volunteers is not there on time at a class?

A: Hopefully most of you will not run into this issue but emergencies and life do come up. If you find yourself in this situation you should:

1. Call the absent volunteer, they may just be running late. Their phone number will be included in the email sent to instructors and floaters with details about the individual class.

2. If you can’t get through to the person or you find out they are unable to get to class, call the CWS coordinator. I keep my schedule open during the times there are classes so that I can be available if I am needed. If one of the volunteers is missing, I will come to fill in.

*If you are unable to make it to a class you have volunteered for please let me know as soon as possible. If it is the day of, don’t be shy about calling in the morning, the more time I or someone else has to get to the library, the better!

Q: Do I have to sign up for the same class/location every week?

A: Nope! You can sign up for as many or as few classes as you like, and you can volunteer at a different location each time. For example, you might volunteer for the Computer Basics at the Chapel Hill Public Library, and then three weeks later volunteer for the Excel Basics at the Carrboro Cybrary.

Q: How do I know what to teach? Do I have to make up my own lesson plan or handout?

A: Nope! Already done! Just use the Handouts link to find the handout for your class. In some cases, there may be additional materials underneath the handout link (e.g., a sample Excel spreadsheet with data), so be sure to check out this page before you teach a class.

We’ve created the handouts as a guide for volunteers to make sure that the basic information for each class is covered during class and/or available on the handout for participants. However, instructors should feel free to veer from the handout depending on the skill level and interests of the participants. You may find that you end up focusing on one segment of the handout for a large portion of the class or that you are getting questions about things not covered in the handout- this is just fine. Of course, you may not be prepared to answer questions not covered by the handout; try to answer the question to your best ability but it’s ok to let participants know when you don’t have the answer to a question. You are also welcome to incorporate different exercises and practice throughout the class. There may be times that you don’t get through everything in the handout, and that’s ok!

If you are volunteering for a class on one of the Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Resume Writing), please be sure to note which version of Microsoft Office is available at the location you will be teaching at and review the corresponding handout for that version.

If you’re volunteering for the Email Basics, Online Shopping, Social Networking or Cloud Storage class, contact the CWS Coordinator to get the CWS instructor account info.

We suggest that you read through the handout before you arrive at the class. During the class, we recommend that you generally follow the order/topics covered in the handout, but feel free to vary from this and cover issues that are relevant for the participants. Also, be sure to take breaks and address any questions that participants may have.

Q: Where do I get the handouts?

A: Handouts will be waiting for you at each of the locations — no need to pick up handouts before the class.

Q: I'm used to teaching kids—is this very different?

A: A little bit. When working with adult learners, it’s important to recognize the knowledge and experience that participants bring to the class. In some cases, participants may know more about the class’s topic than you do, and that’s okay! Invite participants to share their experiences with each other and do your best to form connections between what participants already know and the new skill they’re trying to learn.

Q: Do you have some teaching tips?

Q: What should I do at each location?

A: Each CWS class should have an instructor and at least one floater. If no one has volunteered to be an instructor or floater for a given class, the CWS Coordinator will be there to fill this position. For each location, plan to arrive approximately 15 minutes before the class begins. At the beginning of the workshop, please mention that the program is a collaboration between the library and the UNC-CH Libraries. Introduce yourself and any colleagues who are assisting you, and share what your affiliation is with the university or the library.

Please leave time at the end of the workshop to answer any remaining questions, have the participants fill out the brief evaluation form, and show participants how to access the Handouts and Resources tabs on the website so that they can refer to these resources outside of class. If participants seem interested in additional help, be sure to let them know about any upcoming Open Lab sessions. Participants may also like to review handouts ahead of time for classes they plan to take in the future to see what the class will cover and begin familiarizing themselves with the material. Each location will also have paper copies of the schedule of classes for their location if requested; these will be kept with the handouts and can be given to participants who would like a paper copy. The evaluation is voluntary and confidential, and is extremely helpful in providing ongoing feedback about the program. The evaluation form can now be completed online by clicking on the Feedback tab, but there are also paper forms located with the handouts for those patrons who prefer the paper version. Durham has its own feedback form which is currently only available in paper form.

After the workshop, please fill out the brief instructor Report Form . Please include a note about any difficulties, problems or successes you had during the session, as well as any questions or suggestions you may have, whether about participants, library staff, equipment, procedures, or the lesson plan/handout. Only instructors are asked to fill out this form, though floaters are welcome to send any comments or suggestions by email (see the Contact Us page). The report form is also where the number of participants for each class are recorded, so please be sure to note the number of participants in attendance before the class ends.