Instead of making resolutions at the start of a new calendar year, maybe we should try September instead. The fun of summer is over, the kids are back at school and the golden season of Autumn is drawing close – it could be a perfect time to make some positive adjustments, for PTA Chairs in particular!
PTAs usually deal with big changes in September too – new faces at meetings, a renewed enthusiasm for bigger and better events, maybe a change of PTA officers and decision makers.
So whether you've just taken on the role of PTA Chair, maybe you're thinking about putting yourself forward or have signed up for another year, we've got some excellent tips from those who've been there, done that (and most definitely got the t-shirt!) on how to survive and thrive during the coming year. Grab your notepad, here are our top tips for PTA Chairs – by PTA Chairs!
Team work makes the dream work (and other cliches…)
"Delegation, teamwork and saying thank you are absolutely key! I couldn’t do it without my 3 amazing vice chairs and the rest of the team."
"Never pull rank! It’s about the team. We succeed together and we (thankfully not often) fail together!"
"Don't be afraid to ask for help, don't be afraid to make changes … just because it's always been done that way doesn't make it right! Smile at everyone (most will think you're off your rocker, but someone will think you're approachable and might volunteer,) get yourself a group of people who have your best interests at heart."
"Encourage, support, praise and thank people! Remember that many PTA committee members may be pushed outside of their own comfort zones, as may you be, through your journey together. Get to know your team, know each and everyone’s strengths and draw on them when needed. Individually people will flourish when given responsibilities more akin to their skill sets, and together the team will bloom! Together you can achieve great things."
Lead by example (and leave your iPad at home)
"Have a strong back bone and don’t take anything to heart. People are quick to moan and even if you get 1 moan out of 10 praises you need to focus on the good and not the bad. Be approachable but firm with decisions or you will end up in meetings about meetings and not get anywhere as everyone has different opinions and not everyone will ever agree."
"Communication is really important so people feel involved and included. Share successes (amounts raised etc) as well as all the planning/asking for volunteers etc. Make sure people (committee and other volunteers) feel their help is appreciated. Enjoy it!"
"It's important to make the changes which you know will improve things. By just a few small and simple changes we have raised £450 more this year with one less event. And the more approachable you are, the more volunteers you will recruit!"
"Don't do everything yourself, PTA Chairs are not in charge of everything. If people don't volunteer to take ownership, don't run the event. Try something new. Plan waaaaaay ahead to get the most for your money by buying in the sales. Events don't all have to be money spinners, they can be for fun too. Celebrate your successes. Make friends. Don't lose heart when you've asked a million times for volunteers, it will work itself out!
"Don't take anything personally, appreciate people leave and come back as their circumstances change. Appreciate a year 6 parent may want a break in their last year if they've been doing it from start."
"Don't take your iPad on holiday or you'll end up remotely sorting out Christmas Card issues from Gran Canaria 📷😂📷😂📷😂 … or maybe that advice is too specific!"
And generally speaking….
"Learn and adapt as you go. Each event you plan will evolve the following year. Make notes so you don’t forget. Don’t try and do too much straight away!"
"Engage staff! I’ve really focused on that and have encouraged staff to talk to me about funding they like, and in turn they are always very accommodating and supportive of what we do. Don’t set your expectations too high of your members or parents, not everyone will be as committed as you. It’s not everyone’s ‘bag’ and you won’t change that. Just keep inviting everyone to meetings, and encouraging input."
"Don't be afraid to ask for support and advice from previous PTA chairs or other committee members as they'll have a wealth of knowledge."
"We've found it really helpful for someone to keep notes on how events are run, so you have a better idea for quantities for refreshments, prizes etc. and a note of anything you might have forgotten or didn't work. These can then be handed over to future committee members so they don't have to start the thinking/planning from scratch."
"Don’t ask anyone to “lead” anything, we have found asking people if they could get a team together really works as nobody feels the pressure of being in charge of an event. Also, if you don’t have volunteers for an event, don’t step in to run it, it just won’t happen and it’s not the end of the world. Oh and we have 3 co-chairs which works brilliantly!"
"In tough situations where there is disagreement and lack of help, just remember that it’s all about the kids. Keep them in mind at all times and it helps get you through!!!"
Thank you to all the PTA Chairs who contributed!
Huge thanks to all our social media followers who contributed their brilliant tips, some real gems of advice here. Here's to your Great Success!
PTAsocial’s easy-to-use digital tools empower PTAs and school parent organisations to efficiently plan school community events, and radically increase volunteers and funds raised. Find out more and start a free account here.