I walked into my very first PTA meeting 11 years ago, alone(other than the baby in my belly) introverted yet hoping to meet other mom friends and maybe volunteer a little.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself becoming a board member. The year after that due to some unfortunate circumstances, I found myself in the role of President…where I have been…for 7 years.
I wasn’t equipped or prepared and had nothing to go off of for this role. I have made enemies, mistakes, epic failures, but I have also made life long friends who have shared the burdens and responsibilities involved in PTA. Struggling to survive the PTA? Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
Principal, teachers, office staff and janitors:
Have a face to face with these VIP’s because they will help you navigate everything.
Parents: Facebook page or private groups, emails, phone numbers, flyers, meetings, rallies, outdoor signage on school property- use every avenue possible. You could use them all and smoke signals – you will still have parents telling you they didn’t know about Fun Night.
The few. The willing. The same 3 people.
Our PTA has scaled back events so we don’t have to beg or do it all ourselves. Volunteers are scarce. One thing that has helped us gain a few more recently is by using signupgenius.com
This amazing FREE tool allows us to post the dates, times, job with descriptions and send it off by email or social media.
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Every receipt, penny dropped, dollar spent-and never do it alone. Share the monthly statements at meetings and keep a balanced spreadsheet .This is for your protection more than anything. We always have 3 people count money after events and even bought a change counter that has made the process go faster (sidenote: people love to pay in pennies and quarters).
Other PTA’s & Google:
Reach out to another school and ask to talk to a PTA board member. Veteran parents are the best to ask because they know. They’ve been reprimanded for leaving a popcorn kernel on the cafeteria floor, hosting an event that no one showed up to, or having people be mad and quit PTA for not sending out thank you cards.
She knows. She’s been there.
There are PTA/PTO websites with more information than you could ever need but will provide you a great checklist.
Parents To Avoid:
You will work with all kinds of people with different ideas of how things should go. Be open to new ideas, trying new things but don’t hesitate to say no. I’ve got a great team of board members and they are so much better at saying “no” than I am and I’m so grateful for them! Know your strengths and weaknesses, surround yourself with those who fill in the gaps.
Jobs like making endless batches of popcorn or wiping down tables at the end of the night seem menial but they matter and so do the people who do these tasks. Thank them, find a way to give or reduce the price of admission or concessions for their time. Events can’t go on without these amazing people.
Thrive instead of survive
At the very core, what matters most are the children and the difference we make for them and their education.
Volunteering for PTA gets me a close up view of the 100’s of hours spent on candy bar sales turn into things children and teachers needed and can use on a daily basis, and that makes it all worthwhile.
Tell me your best PTA story!