After months of preparation, organization, extra work to compensate for lack of volunteers, scheduling, and excitement, your activity is done. The sleepless nights worrying if you have enough napkins, thumbtacks, dollar bills, or shopping bags are over. The numbers- telephone numbers, budget needs, fundraising goals, supply costs, volunteers needed to make it work- they have all been counted. Your event was likely a great success! You did good! Nice work on a job well done.
Right. You did do a good job. You worked hard to make something happen, and the kids and families at your school benefit from the effort and energy you (and your committee) put into the event. Thank you, I say sincerely and with great feeling. It could not have happened without you!
Unfortunately, there are people who were not happy with the event. This is where a great conflict happens, and I want to address it so that you can get on with the patting on the back part.
Critique is good. Criticism helps work out kinks. People have ideas on how to do something differently, and their ideas can often bring about a fun twist to a future event. Let them speak, and do not take offense. Thank them for their input, and make a note of it for the next event. It might come in handy for whoever chairs next year.
That said, there are a few strong emotions that might get in the way of a good critique. If you are faced with a "Critiquer" who is very emotional or angry, of if you are feeling angry in the face of this critique, take a breath. Listen to what the person is saying, and try your best to remove the emotion from any statement. In other words, try and find the very basic complaint. Do not take the criticism personally- generally people are not angry with YOU, they are frustrated with a perception they have created from an unhappy experience. See if you can solve that problem: either by restating the rules, apologizing, taking notes for the future, or taking action.
Although the timing of complaints can often ruin the good feelings of your great event, remember that they are still an important part of the process. Again, avoid taking them personally. Take them in, note them for the future, and keep on smiling.
The end of the calendar year is often recognized as an opportunity to reflect back on all of your Personal and Local Unit success for the year. It is also a great time for everyone to assess where you are as a group. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate, and as a Board, look back on the goals your unit established at the start of the school year.
· Begin with the positive! What has worked well as a Board? Enhancing what is strong will only bring more success. Then you can take a more progressive look at what did not work well. Maybe the program was tailored in such a way that by placing a leader with a different skill set, it would be launched into success. Maybe personalities are clashing. Did your unit have a few bumps in the road at the start of the year?
· Be sure and evaluate it! Come up with plans and ideas of
how you would do things differently next year. We all know that ignoring
problems only makes them bigger, but this brainstorming exercise should be a safe place to throw out some fresh perspective, and an opportunity to change the way you have done business in the past.
· Start your New Year off right! I found this great quote on goals "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." (Carl Bard)
What better way to establish a goal then to ask your members! There
are many ways to survey your members; you can send one home through kid mail, at a General Membership Meeting, or you can email a link to an online survey (Survey Monkey is free and really easy to use!). Creating attractive incentives to getting a response is one way to get them back in.
Everybody has a few minutes to give feedback, so you want to be sure that you carefully evaluate what important information you are trying to capture in the survey with quick and direct questions. What do you want to know? What kind of information are you trying to capture as a Board? Results can play a key role in identifying strengths, areas to improve, or even where organization improvements can be made. Be ready to respond to the information you collect in your surveys, and always thank your members for taking the time to participate. Use the data collected in your decision making as you establish or enhance the goals for your Unit. And as always have fun doing it! Please feel free to share with your
by Virginia Muniz
Region 7 Director
Washington State PTA
From Bill WIlliams:
I want to let you know about a new tool that we have created to assist
you and you board colleagues carry out your fiduciary duties. As those of
you who have attended PTA & the Law are aware,all board members are
responsible for assuring that certain necessary actions – filing the annual
corporation renewal, filing the federal income tax return, etc.—are carried out, even though the task of actually completing these steps may be assigned only to one individual.
To help board members keep track of these required actions, we’ve created a“Required Actions Checklist” that we recommend that you
download and make a copy for each of your board members as an easy way to keep track of who’s responsible for which action and note when they’ve been accomplished.
National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
Welcoming all families into the school community—Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.
Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.
Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.
Speaking up for every child—Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.
Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.
Collaborating with community—Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.
The complete document is available online at: http://www.pta.org/Documents/National_Standards.pdf
1) Ask each of your committee chairs and executive committee members to keep a folder/binder with notes, ideas, and training. The binder stays with the office or committee so your next leader knows where to begin!
2) Support a committee of 2 or more people for every event, program, and actvity. This committee will be a part of the process, and can be a great asset when looking for a new chair in the future.
3) Allow and nurture collaborative efforts for your events, programs, and activities. When people feel that their input is considered and welcomed, then they feel more invested in the whole process. Valued volunteers are valuable volunteers!
What do you suggest? What has worked for your team?
Now is the time when we begin to lose our enthusiasm for helping as the holidays approach and sicknesses increase. However, the needs at school do not diminish. It is more important than ever to take the time to acknowledge your volunteers. Thank them personally, face-to-face, email, or best of all, a hand-written note. Letting them know that the event could not have taken place without their help makes them feel worthwhile; that the time they could have used to do chores at home or run needed errands, was not wasted.
Be sure that when you are scheduling your volunteers that you are careful to include how much time they will need to give to the project. If you don’t know, say so up front. Be flexible with your schedule. If no one can help for three hours, maybe three people can help for an hour each.
Be fun. Even the tedious events the adults don’t like can be fun if you laugh. There have been events where people came and hung out or stayed past their shift because there was a great conversation going on.
Keep a smile and a positive attitude and you will keep your volunteers.
by Cari Manry, ACPTA Vice President
The whole PTA organization (from National to Washington State, to here in Auburn) supports diversity and encourages a spirit of Inclusion and Involvement for all units. Take a moment to consider if unit is fully representing all of the children and families of your school: new families, working moms, single parents, bilingual or ESL families, dads... There are many ways a unit can start introducing Outreach ideas and growing your unit to include the rich diversity from your community.
First look at your unit's strengths. (For example, strong core of volunteers, parents dedicated to educational goals, involved teachers). Then decide where the needs of your unit may be. For example, you could set a goal of increasing the number of dads who participate, or improve your unit's communication with bilingual families, or perhaps reach out to working families. Take a look at the demographics of your school as well. Your principal and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a great resource for this.
Use all this information to determine your school greatest need. Look around and start making connections with people in your school who can help achieve your goals! As a PTA unit, you can make a goal of one targeted group per year. That way the focus is on one group, and they can receive the focus and training that is needed to be successful within the core group. And your unit can feel successful as well.
Another way you can gather some great information is to conduct a members survey. Surveys are a great way to see what the needs of your members are. Keep them short, offer translated versions, avoid asking leading questions, you can even use multiple choice. Consider testing the questions on a small group such as your Board of Directors o make sure the survey makes sense. Combine your results and take action!
The best leaders welcome the rich diversity in language, culture, and family structure in our changing student populations. These leaders are bold, and adhere to a powerful vision, with a clear focus on results. Leaders look beyond the barriers and see opportunities. Have fun reaching out to your amazing community!
--Amy Kulp, Council Outreach Chair
Whether you are a seasoned leader, or a brand new team, there are a few things you can focus on to get a great start to your year.
Update Your Website: parents want to know who you are and what is going on! We recommend that you have at least two things on your website. With very little effort, you parents will feel involved.
Make a Plan: September is a great and exciting time in the PTA calendar! A little bit of preparation will go a long way in setting expectations.
Get Involved in Council: We are here to help! Just like your team works better when chairs and members participate, so does Council. Come to the meetings on the second Tuesday of every month.
-- Michelle Baker, President
Council Leaders will be writing articles relating to their committee or favorite interest. You are encouraged to respond! Ask questions, add your experiences, contribute to the conversation. We are all in this together!