Back to school season is upon us! Parents, teachers, and students are filled with anticipation and excitement for the school year ahead. This is an especially exciting time for PTAs. Your parent board has likely spent a lot of time planning and preparing for the upcoming year, and back to school season is the official kickoff.
For a PTA, it typically starts with a back to school board meeting. This a PTA’s opportunity to set the stage for the school year. With that in mind, here are three things to consider as you begin working with a new board.
1. Start recruiting PTA members and volunteers NOW
New families are eager to get involved in the school community. Returning families are in “back to school mode” and are likely to do anything recommended by teachers and administration. Take advantage of this opportunity! If they’re willing, enlist the help of your school’s leaders to communicate about PTA membership and volunteer opportunities.
Enlist your board members to help, too. As they meet the parents of new classmates, ask board members to share some key functions of your school’s PTA and encourage membership. Be sure to provide specifics for where to go for more information and how to get involved.
2. Provide your PTA volunteers with everything they need to be successful
A thorough volunteer onboarding ensures participation and commitment. A good balance of training, supervision, and support is essential. A volunteer wants to feel equipped. It’s important to take any guess work out of what their jobs entail. At the same time, encourage board members to own their role—you’ll be surprised by what creative ideas and projects they come up with.
That being said, the first meeting of the year should not feel overwhelming. This is the time to provide a general framework and set the stage for the year ahead. As a long time executive board member, I recommend establishing a mentorship-like program. Assign each committee chair to a member of the executive board who is familiar with the position. This then becomes their “mentor” and point person for any needs. It’s a great way to offer support and encourages team-building as well.
3. Keep it fun!
People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons, but it’s safe to say relationships are what matter most. As you kick off a new year, make sure you leave adequate time for socializing and fun. Make sure to create a welcoming environment – especially for those who may be new to the community. Encourage your school’s administration to attend. Board members often appreciate a casual opportunity to interact with school leadership and back to school is the perfect time to establish a positive working relationship between the PTA and administration.
As you roll in to the new school year, I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Above all, I encourage you to pause and appreciate the great work you’re doing. PTAs make schools better, and anyone who chooses to get involved has the opportunity to have a positive impact in the lives of children. I hope everyone has an awesome year!