Last week our highlight focused on a central aspect of a Waldorf school, supporting the conscious development of each individual in the community. By nature, the students, parents and teachers all practice their development every day in their respective roles. But how can a community work towards supporting each person, whether they are working on staff with a salary or as a one day volunteer? There are a few keys to supporting everyone in the community in their development. From experience, we know that individuals are more successful when:
- There is a clear description of their role and how it relates to the whole.
- They receive a thorough orientation to the community and their task.
- They have someone with experience (a supervisor, guide, mentor, coach) who can help them along their path.
- They have a regular opportunity for reflection, review and evaluation.
All four of these areas are worthy of exploring on their own – What makes a good job description? What is the best way to create job descriptions for volunteers? How can one keep all the job descriptions focused on the mission and clear about the culture? How do we best orient people who are drawn to our community to the core values that make it work? How can one best establish personal support processes for every position, paid or volunteer? How do we support mentors and guides in being consistent and working with integrity? What is the appropriate review and evaluation of volunteers?
At the heart of all these questions is the need to take an interest in each individual, not only for what they can do, but also for who they are, for the gift they bring to the whole and for the unique relationship and perspective they have on the core values. This is what Rudolf Steiner offered as insight when he referred to the motto of the social ethic – “that in the community the virtue of each one is living.”
Because many schools are financially challenged (like many non-profit organizations), we rely on the enthusiasm, involvement and skills of volunteers. How we support them, from having clear job descriptions for board and committee members, to having mentors for volunteers, to giving opportunities for review and evaluation at all levels will determine how successful the community is.
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