With budget cuts and support for education being dramatically shifted financially in the United States, schools are especially dependent upon their teachers, administrators and parents for creative ways to keep extra activities present in their schools. Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) are critical in enabling students and teachers have functions and materials for inside and outside the classroom with fundraising their efforts. As a first year PTO member myself, it has been a fun, challenging and educational time getting to know the in’s and out’s of being a good member of the organization, so here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
Be Present At PTO Meetings
We all have busy schedules, but allowing time to be present at a PTO meeting once per month, for perhaps an hour, is such a great show of support for the organization. It also:
*Allows you to hear first-hand what issues are being dealt with
*It is a great venue for your voice to be heard
*A setting for brain-storming and sharing of ideas
*You get to know other parents (and perhaps make a new friend!)
*Good attendance is a morale booster for everyone involved
Volunteer For Events
Students love the festivals, field trips, book fairs, projects with parents, and other special events that are initiated and carried out by members of the PTO. Once these events are organized it takes people being present and active for them to be carried out, and this is where parent support is vital. The students love seeing parents they know helping out with activities, and those who don’t know you will be glad you are there.
If there is one thing that is a buzz kill at a meeting or event is the Debbie-downer parent who complains, gossips about people, or is negative in general. To stay positive and helpful, present topics or suggestions in ways of “Maybe we could try this…” or “I like that idea, and perhaps we could add…” or “How can we…” The overall concept is to think of what you as a group can do, instead of what you can’t.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
This is a big issue that can seem like a challenge but with email, school websites being more informative and integrated for PTO, Facebook and cell phone technology being so useful, good communication can be established and be consistent. It does take initiative by leaders of the PTO, and sub-group leaders to keep everyone informed and not assume people already know things. Good communication is a wonderful tool!
Parents and teachers volunteering for the PTO can do wonderful things for the students and the schools they support. Be a great member and do great things!