Modernizing Your PTA, Tips from a PTA Leader
Recently on The Multipurpose Room, co-host Debora Jones had the pleasure of conversing with Selma Avdicevic on the matter of modernizing your PTA to meet the requirements of the new ‘normal’ that is 2020 and beyond. Vice President at Buzz Aldrin Middle School’s PTA, Selma brought invaluable expertise to the table, all of which is pooled for you here in this blog post.
Historically, PTOs and PTAs have been an in-person organization, with most of their operations – be it meetings or social events – taking place in a face to face capacity where people had the chance to interact and share ideas. Of course, the pesky pandemic has rendered these meetings impossible, meaning that PTAs must follow suit, undergo modernization, and adopt a virtual mode of existence.
Here’s how best to modernize your PTA and continue with full stride in the virtual world:
Focus First on Your Website
While most, if not all, PTAs are bound to have a website, it is really the datedness and functionality of these websites that matter. If you’re a PTA that has been around for long, then then your website is likely outdated. Technology has evolved tremendously and even if your site was rebuilt in the last five years, it could likely use a refresh to make it easier to manage. Your website should serve as a central hub of information that is constant and verified so parents can find whatever they’re looking for without any trouble so making it simple to manage is really important.
But building a website isn’t as easy as it seems; it requires some serious work, including budgeting and finding the right technology. WordPress, for instance, is a great place to start as even the most technically-foreign will be able to navigate it. And the best part? It’s completely secure!
If your PTA is going to be operating on a virtual model, then it’s essential to make yourself accessible. This means making your website mobile compatible and finding mediums of communication and engagement that allow all members to participate.
Time is of the Essence
If you’ve chosen the pandemic as a time to modernize your PTA, then it’s important that you work fast. Your website would have to be up and running in a matter of weeks instead of months, and the planning and discussion phase would have to be sped up. After all, you can’t adopt a virtual mode of teaching without having an online presence, can you?
Generally speaking, even if you’re technologically modernizing your PTA during normal circumstances, it is still a good idea to act swiftly because more time means more money.
Select Representative Leadership
There’s no doubt that the decision to modernize your PTA will involve a lot of planning, coordinating and execution. It is likely that this will extend beyond just your school but to all the schools in your district. For this to go about successfully, it’s important to have a strong sense of leadership backing your project. Rather than involving a large committee of decision-makers, it’s better to have one representative from each school making decisions for that school. Not only will this reflect inclusion and representation, but having a smaller group will let you make decisions quickly.
Increase Your Streaming Capabilities
Most PTAs have set regulation that dictates the compulsion of in-person voting and meetings. However, since this is not a possibility during the pandemic, Zoom is your perfect replacement. Not only does it allow meetings to continue without the risk of virus contraction, but it also increases attendance manifold, making for greater representativeness.
You can take this one step further by increasing your PTA or PTOs’ presence on social media platforms. It’s worth remembering that PTA members are parents, and parents have numerous commitments to get to, whether it’s putting the kids to bed, fixing them lunch, or dealing with work. By giving members the option consume information on various platforms that are convenient to them, and to volunteer remotely, as well as to attend meetings through, for instance, Facebook live streaming, you’re automatically pushing up participation rates and making for a more inclusive decision-making process. Not only that but by doing the same for events and fundraisers, you can make those with time constraints truly feel part of the community.
Leverage Member Hub
One issue that arises in any sort of virtual system is the problem of effective communication. Although social media presence can help, not everyone is on social media and because of privacy restriction, you may not be able to do outreach to all via social media. So managing membership while ensuring family privacy can be rather tough. The National PTA has made Member Hub available to PTAs to solve this issue. Member Hub lets you jump over PTA communication hurdles by enabling community members to engage with others through a password-protected, private website where they themselves decide how much they want to share.
Members have the option of joining a digital directory where they can connect with other members by sharing details such as their phone number or email IDs. By creating this easily accessible database, communication between and with PTA members becomes a walk in the walk, all while being secure.
What’s more is that parents can even create their own little sub hub, which are basically virtual pods consisting of parents whose children are in the same grade level and homeroom level. Again, this makes communication easier and more effective as only the relevant parents get the information instead of mass spamming.
So, for any PTA looking to modernize itself, take the above advice from Selma, who just went through all of this modernization for her PTA in Montclair, NJ. While the journey is a substantial one, it’ll be well worth it at the end!