Build your school community by featuring meaningful Parent Programs during PTA meetings. Here are some tips for speakers that draw a crowd. Want to recommend a speaker? Send their Name, Company, Contact information and a brief description to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Practices for Building Meeting Attendance:
- Make a program the main feature of your PTA meeting.
- Put your parents first: what’s of interest/concern in your school community?
- Keep the business of your PTA meeting as close to 20 minutes as possible. Avoid committee work and discussions that could have been held during your Executive Board meeting. You can do this with a written agenda, by posting action items on your website beforehand (such as minutes to approve, budget to approve, etc.), including written committee reports for people to review when they arrive, etc. When appropriate, suggest time limits for reports. Be firm but kind about watching the clock…parents who want more information can stay and talk after the meeting.
- Always have membership sign up available and encourage new members to join
- Provide translators and work with parent liaisons to invite parents who may be new to PTA
- Take programs out into the community, such as libraries or community rooms in major apartment complexes
Tips for working with guest speakers:
- Verify fee, minimum crowd size (some in-demand speakers may need to charge a fee)
- Build a crowd: Have your officers call to invite parents, ask room parents to recruit five parents per class, ask principal/teachers to promote the program, or partner with another PTA in your pyramid.
- Thank your speaker within the week – this is a great way to build a long-term relationship for encore presentations!
Recommended Programs/Topics for PTAs
School Counselors/Social Workers/Psychologists can present on the “Care and Feeding” of your students, including childhood stress, how to support children’s development and mental health (best for all ages)
School Resource Officers are being asked by FCPS to present at PTA meetings this year. SROs can brief parents on school safety, threat assessments, drug/opioid crisis and crime trends within the immediate community and other law-enforcement-related issues concerning your school (best for MS, HS).
Reading specialists and Librarians can teach parents how to read with their children at home to boost children’s literacy (best for ES).
Teaching teams can preview curriculum and talk about developmental stages (for example, ask the 4thgrade team to present and invite all 4thgrade parents to that meeting, etc.). (best for ES)
Principals can present “State of the School” updates, discuss the FCPS strategic plan and talk about needs for the school year. Alternately you can host “Pastries with the Principal” or coffee that can include a Q & A with school administration (best for all ages).
School-based College and Career specialists can review post-graduation options ranging from work to gap years to college (best for HS).
School Board members give parents a look at how the bigger picture impacts their students at school. We are lucky to have 12 school board members who are articulate and can answer a variety of questions. Many were former PTA leaders. Sometimes parents don’t understand the value of hearing from elected officials so ask your member about upcoming issues that will affect the students at your school — it’ll help to provide a “hook” for the meeting. Type your school’s address into this finderto learn which school board members represent your school.
National PTA and Symantec have developed The Smart Talk to help parents teach kids how to manage their digital lives. Speakers from Symantec’s Community Relations Team are available to present and walk your parents through the program. (best for ES)
Ann Dolin of Educational Connections is a noted education consultant who shares tips for parents on WTOP. Author of several books, Ann’s presentations cover topics such as homework struggles, procrastination and executive functioning. http://www.ectutoring.com(topics for all levels)
Cathi Cohen is the director of InStep and a leader in the field of social skills training with children. She can present: “Raise Your Child’s Social IQ: Stepping Stones to People Skills for Kids.” (best for ES). https://insteppc.com
Peter Robbins, MD, Medical Director of Child & Family Counseling Group, talks to parents about how to help their children manage middle school. Middle School can be a pressure cooker filled with power struggles, conflicting impulses, physical growth and strong emotions. Stress, anxiety, and depression can be common, and have an impact on our child’s emotional, physical and mental well-being. Learn what to look for and how to help your child manage the middle school years. http://www.childandfamilycounseling.com/?view=mobile(best for MS)
Karen Paley, Ph. D. and fellow financial advisers at Apple Federal Credit Union provide complimentary talks on topics such as budgeting, debt consolidation, home buying and refinancing, with time for Q&A. Contact Karen at email@example.com.
Test Prep Companies can present and even work with your PTA to hold a test prep event at your school. Mindworks is excellent (www.mindworkseducation.com). Ask them to donate a free package and raffle it off as a fundraiser. Hold a test prep at your school for a low-risk/high reward fundraiser (best for HS).
Help build the list! Recommend a favorite speaker to firstname.lastname@example.org