How to Run a PTA Meeting
Learning how to run a PTA meeting effectively could help your school in more ways than you realize. Whether you have a PTA or PTO in your school, running the meeting is much like a business meeting. It serves as a time for people to get the information they want and offer ideas. A well-planned meeting that includes PTA officers, parents, school administration and staff is the key to continued success for your school's PTA or PTO.
Although PTAs and PTOs are a little different, how the meetings are run every month is pretty much the same. Here are some guidelines to follow when you run a PTA meeting.
PTA Meeting Essentials
There are a few things that need to be done prior to the PTA meeting to help your meeting be successful. Some of these items need to be planned a week in advance and others can be done a few hours before the meeting.
- Be organized. Keep all your PTA material for events in separate folders and have everything with you at all the meetings. If someone comes to a meeting and they have a question, they expect an answer that night. If you keep all your materials organized and bring them to the meeting, you will be ready to take on any questions and give immediate answers.
- Offer FREE childcare. If you want your meeting to run smoothly you need to offer free childcare in a different room. Use some of your funds to pay the person or organization that offers the childcare. If your school offers an on-site after school care program, consider using that same organization. They are usually insured and have staff with clearances.
- Provide a snack. Who doesn't love sitting through a secretary's report while munching on chocolate chip cookies? Adults, just like kids, get grumpy when they don't eat. Since most parents are coming right from work to the PTA meeting it is important to offer some type of snack.
- Spread the word. If your school has a monthly calendar or a website, make sure all your meetings are listed. It is also a good idea to create a Facebook group for your PTA or PTO. Many parents check Facebook on a daily basis, so this is an easy way to remind them about the meeting.
- Create a welcoming meeting environment. If possible, have your PTA meetings in a location within the school that has student artwork or projects on display. It is a nice reminder of why everyone is at the meeting; it keeps things focused on the children. It is also nice to have PTA meetings in smaller spaces so people feel less intimidated.
- Have a printed agenda. Print simple half sheet agendas and have them available to hand out when parents arrive. This will help parents follow along and it will give them a place to write notes or record important dates.
Time to Run the Meeting
Now that you have all your essentials covered, you are ready to run a PTA or PTO meeting. For the first meeting of the year it is a good idea to stick to the agenda and make sure the entire meeting is over in less than an hour. It is also a good idea to have a parent pizza or ice cream social for a half hour before the first meeting of the year. The first meeting of the new school year will be the one with the highest attendance, so PTA /PTO officers should make every effort to mingle with the parents. As the school year goes on attendance will likely drop, but it is still a good idea to run every meeting following this outline.
- Start the meeting by introducing the PTA/PTO officers and their jobs.
- Introduce the principal and/or assistant principal and have them give an update about what is happening at the school.
- Have the PTA treasurer read the treasurer's report and discuss the overall financial health of your PTA or PTO.
- Have the PTA secretary read a report on what happened at the last meeting and give an overview of upcoming PTA or PTO events.
- Have the PTA/PTO president and vice-president take turns talking about upcoming events and needs for those events and directions on how to participate.
- Have a large group vote on anything that may need to be voted on OR use this time to have a 10-15 minute presentation from a guest or from the students.
- Have a question and answer time that occurs at about 45 minutes into the meeting. This allows the meeting to stay controlled. At the one hour mark, children need to be picked up and if the questions are still not answered, the PTA president can address them individually while the other parents prepare to leave.
- Remind parents when the next PTA meeting is and then allow a few minutes for parents to snack and mingle before picking up their children from childcare.
Additional Tips on How to Run a Better PTA Meeting
After you have run a PTA meeting or two you may be looking for ways to make your meeting better. Remember, the meeting will only be as good as the person running it. So if you have difficulty with public speaking or starting conversations with complete strangers, you may want to consider working on those skills. Being part of the solution to better PTA meetings is a step in the right direction. Here are a few other tips on how to make your PTA/PTO meetings a little more fun and exciting.
- Have a giveaway at each meeting. Get local businesses to donate an item each month. When parents see that local businesses are supporting your school they are more likely to use those businesses themselves. Give each parent one raffle ticket towards the giveaway. If a parent signs up to help with something or asks a question, give them more raffle tickets and a better chance at winning the giveaway.
- Have a fun warm-up activity or game at the beginning of the meeting. Having a true or false quiz, matching game, or getting to know you activity can help your parents bond. It is also a fun way to educate them about what is going on in their child's school.
- Subscribe to PTA Magazine or PTO Today Magazine. Both publications have printed and online resources that are very helpful to new and seasoned PTA/PTO officers. The PTO Today website also has an excellent explanation on the differences of a PTA and a PTO.