With the 2020-2021 school year starting it’s time to kick your Parent Teacher Group into gear. The 2020-2021 school year looks to be a difficult one due to current circumstances. That means this year, more than any other, your school and students need your help to make the school year a success. Here are some back to school PTO tasks that can have you hit the ground running.
Get Organized for Back to School
Before dealing with outside needs this is a perfect time to do a little parent teacher group housekeeping. Review your bylaws and update them. Bylaws rarely require drastic changes, but it is a good habit to review them at the beginning of the year. Likewise, the start of the school year is a good time to review your group’s budget. You should review both the bylaws and the budget with the other officers. An afternoon get-together can be an easy way to review both. This get-together can be a good time to purchase your general liability insurance for the school year. Purchase your general liability insurance HERE.
Take the time before the start of the school year to cement organization responsibilities for online duties. Who is in charge of making sure the website is updated with the latest information? Who sends out the parent teacher group’s emails? Texts? What about the organization’s social media? These roles can be filled by volunteers later in the year, but now is a good time to decide who and how many people are in charge of the group’s digital communication.
The beginning of the school year is the best time to secure new volunteers for your parent teacher group. One of the best ways to gain parent volunteer information and their opinions on the coming school year is with a parent/volunteer survey. This can help you discover what is important to parents for the school year and how they think the organization can best help the students and school. These insights can prove invaluable to helping you determine your parent teacher group’s direction for the new year.
Meet with the School Staff
Parents are just one half of parent teacher groups. You also want to make you and your organization known to the school staff. As soon as possible, try and meet with the school principal. Your meeting should cover the current school year situation, planned events, and how your group can best support the hectic start of the semester. Your principal will appreciate the help, especially with the additional weight of COVID-19 concerns for the Fall semester.
Take some time to meet the teachers and discuss what school supplies the students need for the coming school year. This can help teachers plan for a successful school year if you can use the parent teacher group to coordinate surplus school supplies donations. This is a pressing concern for the 2020-2021 school year where COVID-19 has affected so many households economically. Your organization can make sure all students have the tools they need to be successful in 2020-2021.
With COVID-19 being a major concern for this school year, make a point of working with the school staff on what health and sanitation supplies your group can donate. Speak with the principal, school nurse, and custodial staff. Your group can help by donating face coverings, hand sanitizer, and CDC approved cleansers and cleaning supplies.
Start the school year off right with a good first impression by offering a small, new-school-year treat for teachers and staff. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. A small, thoughtful gift or simple appreciation like a catered lunch can earn you brownie points before school even starts.
Back-to-School Night Tasks
An in-person, back-to-school night is one of your best opportunities to recruit new parents to your group. Unfortunately given the current state of affairs many schools may be ditching the traditional back-to-school night over COVID-19 concerns. If your school is having an in-person or controlled access event, make a point of meeting as many new families as your can and get their information. It can help to put together a parent resource sheet with information about the school and nearby resources like the local library and public pool. Be sure to include your group’s information on the sheet.
If you have the opportunity to speak on stage, take the opportunity to invite parents to your next meeting. Prepare some words about your group, showcase your accomplishments from last year, and what you are looking forward to this year. End by letting interested parents know where they can find you once you’re off stage, like your parent group table.
Speaking of your group’s event table, make sure it is working to get you new parents. Consider offering something that will bring people to your table. Bottled water is an easy way to bring parents to your table so you can engage them. Another helpful tip is to provide something that shows all the things your group did for the school and students last year. A presentation board with photos works wonders. Make sure you have a signup sheet to gather the contact information of interested parents.
Prepare for the Biggest Meeting of the Year
Your group’s first meeting of the year is likely to be the biggest. Make effort to promote the meeting and gain even more volunteer information. See if you can get the meeting information posted on the school sign. You can also create yard signs for student pick up/drop off locations. Don’t forget to promote your meeting digitally with emails, social media posts, and text messages. With your school’s blessing and assistance you can also create meeting reminder stickers to go on students’ shirts as they head home.
The first meeting can be your one opportunity to impress new parents into becoming volunteers. And when it comes to running a great meeting there’s no substitute for planning. That means coming up with a strong agenda for your first meeting. For more information on how to plan a successful meeting read THIS ARTICLE.
As part of your meeting, make sure you have a volunteer sign up sheet/form to pass around. With the first meeting likely to be the meeting with the largest attendance of the year it’s imperative you get your sign up sheet in front of parents while they’re still interested in the new school year and volunteering.
You can draw in new parents to your group by using the first meeting as an idea board for planning the year’s events. You can even promote it as such. People are more likely to show up to a parent teacher group meeting if they feel they can have direct impact on what is being planned for the rest of the year.
Start the Fall Semester Strong
Following these tasks will make sure your parent teacher group starts the Fall semester strong. Many of these tips can be helpful for both in-person and virtual activities. If you’re looking for more tips for your parent teacher organization see these three icebreakers for virtual group meetings.
There are many ways to fundraise for your group without health and social distancing concerns. Here is more information on how to set up your own virtual fundraising challenge.