Participation Tips For PTA/PTO Groups
Earlier this week we touched on the importance of boosting participation in your organization and offered some pointers on how you might achieve that end. In this post we’ll be taking a closer look at PTA-PTO groups and how, specifically, they might increase the level of interest and involvement in their group with relative ease!
We’ve all been in situations where we were the newbies in the room. A new school, a new job or a new club. Walking into a room full of strangers can be a frightening and intimidating experience for many of us. School parent groups are no exception. It can be rough. We’ve been to thousands of parent group meetings over the years and have seen it all. We’ve seen groups that are welcoming to all and give everyone a voice. But unfortunately, we’ve also seen groups where a small and powerful clique controls every decision made and no one outside this clique has a say in anything. The ones who don’t march to the beat of that group are excluded and pushed away from any significant involvement. It breaks our heart when we see parent groups operate in this manner. This goes against the spirit of what a parent group should stand for. These parents just want to be involved in the child’s educational experience and help out any way they can, yet their efforts are not accepted or appreciated. If word gets out that your parent group is unwelcoming, then the parental participation will decline and the effectiveness of the organization will suffer. We implore all of our parent groups to embrace new members! New participants bring a fresh breath of air and energy to the group.
Hold a new members event at the beginning of the school year. All current members should be actively recruiting new parents, and a fun event is a great way to introduce new members to the group. Make them feel welcomed from the get go. Give them real responsibility so they know they are actually helping. We find that the newest members are the most enthusiastic and willing to take on a big role.
Give everyone a voice. Make sure there is a forum for any parent who wants to voice their opinion and suggestions. Make sure that there are committees who make decisions. The objective in these committees is to prevent one person, or a small group of people, from having all the power and making all of the important decisions. Give everyone a chance to be heard and choose the best ideas, no matter where they come from.
Don’t forget that these are volunteers. These parents don’t have to come to the PTO -PTA meetings. There are choosing to be there to assist the school. Often they have full time jobs, households to run, and as with any parent with kids, they are incredible busy. Be respectful of this point and be thankful that they are willing to help.
If new members feel welcomed and appreciated, your school (and the children) will be the ones to benefit!
Photo source: www.projectappleseed.org