It’s Back to School time! And while parents are readying their kiddos for getting back to the swing of things, parent volunteers for PTO and PTA groups have other things on their minds. Especially if those volunteers are new PTA or PTO Presidents. Those volunteers have a heck of a lot more going on. But I’m here to give some simple and honest guidance…
1. Check in with officers and committee chairs
Right now, at the beginning of the school year, it is super important that you check in with your officers and heads of committees to see what they need help with and where they are with plans for the year. If they’re overwhelmed, help find a buddy to balance out the workload.
2. Check in with your principal
Getting on the same page with your Principal is also really important. I developed a really good relationship with my Principal when I was President and it was because we checked in with each other on a regular basis. But meeting at the beginning of the year can help set that collaborative tone that will help you throughout the year. Make sure to give the Principal a heads up about all events and make sure they’re on board!
3. Make sure membership, fundraising and family events are set
Yep, this is kinda a repeat of #1, but it is sooooo worth repeating! You need to check in with the volunteers in the positions of membership, family events and fundraising because they are key to a successful year.
4. Check in with other leaders in your district
It’s always good to check in with the other PTA leaders of other district school at the start of the school year if you haven’t already. Before plans and schedules are cemented, there’s time to join together for events and avoid scheduling conflicts. Working together will help everyone in the district out, especially the families with kids in multiple buildings.
5. Stay calm
Maybe I should’ve listed not freaking out at the top of this list cause I know that many first time PTO Presidents are doing just this! If this is you, you for sure shouldn’t be a giant ball of stress ready to explode. Everything will be fine, no matter what is going on right now. The weight of the entire organization isn’t and shouldn’t be on your shoulders. You’re in this with others, so lean on them. Doing #1 and #2 on this list should definitely help out!
6. Fill open positions in your PTO
A PTA/PTO’s President is so much harder with open positions because there is a great temptation to try to do everything themselves. I speak from experience on this one because I was totally guilty of this. One of the biggest mistakes I made during my first year as President was that instead of finding someone else to do certain jobs, I did the work myself. Your role as President isn’t to do everything yourself and run the group. Rather, your job is to manage everyone and help reach group goals.
Don’t assume that no one is willing to step up and help out. I know PTAs and PTOs get a bad rap because often roles are undefined and people feel like they get sucked into a volunteer role that never ends. So when approaching people, make sure to be clear on what the position involves and also the estimated time commitment. It’s really, really, really important that you’re really honest about what’s involved. If not, you’l end up with disgruntled volunteers and that’s never a good thing!
What if you can’t find someone to do it? Then consider if it really needs to be done. PTOs really just need a President, Treasurer, Family Events Head and a Fundraising Chair. That’s it! The other things are bonuses, really, IMHO. Low level of parental involvement? Look for ways to simplify things. Remember to keep it simple! Simple can still be fantastic!
Summing it up
I hope this post has been helpful if you are a new PTA President and you’re feeling overwhelmed by your position and all that the start of school means.
As another friendly reminder, I have some tools available to help your year go as smoothly as you’d like! If you’ve not yet, make sure to check them out to see how they’ll help you!
April 2016 Update! I’ve started a new blog to help PTA/PTO leaders! It’s called PTO Answers! Please subscribe so you don’t miss out!
Also, I have a Facebook Group just for PTA/PTO Leaders + Volunteers! Join the group here! The group offers the chance to get your burning PTO questions answered by my and other PTO nerds, plus doses of motivation, inspiration and support exactly when you need it most!
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