Whether it’s holding a percentage fundraiser or planning an autumn festival, parent-teacher associations rely on volunteers to help make events happen. These groups also keep parents informed about how the school operates and any issues it faces.
But some families may have difficulty donating their time or money to PTAs. To overcome these obstacles, schools can take advantage of volunteers’ unique talents and skills.
For the public, philanthropy conjures images of billionaires like Bill Gates and George Soros announcing sweeping plans to save democracy or cure disease. But a closer look at school-based philanthropy reveals how everyday citizens can shape a schoolâ€TMs environment.
Often, this is done through parent-teacher associations (PTAs). Though not as numerous as they once were, these nonprofits are well known for their wholesome reputations and activities like organizing bake sales, parties and buying gifts for Teacher Appreciation Day. But they also wield a powerful financial influence, determining which programs a school can afford to offer.
And this disparity in fundraising has sparked controversy and debate, from Malibu and Santa Monica to New York City. To help level the playing field, schools are working to address these differences by rethinking how their PTAs work with each other. One approach is to develop a policy that requires PTAs that raise money on school property or with school resources to share the proceeds equitably with other schools.
One of the key ways in which parents and teachers communicate is through parent teacher conferences. These meetings occur on a regular basis, usually around progress reporting times and are meant to be informative and collaborative conversations.
These sessions can cover a variety of topics, including a studentâ€TMs academic performance and social or behavioral issues. To be most effective, these talks should be solution-oriented. It is also important to remember that students have unique needs outside of the classroom. It is often helpful for teachers to share information about existing health-related resources with families.
When discussing a childâ€TMs struggles, teachers should start and end with positive comments about their progress. This will ensure that families feel included in the discussion and like a valued part of the team. Likewise, when discussing a childâ€TMs strengths, teachers should be sure to have examples of their success to bolster their argument. Many teachers keep worksheets with a list of each childâ€TMs strengths and areas of improvement to help them remain focused at conferences.
Parents voluntarily involve themselves in many activities, such as helping with school projects, checking the attendance of students and calling the parents of absent children, conducting parent patrols, supporting extracurricular clubs and enriching studentsâ€TM subject classes (Hoell, 2006:7). Classroom volunteers offer a valuable resource to teachers, especially in assisting with special assignments or helping the teacher in class.
Volunteer reading allows the student to interact with a adult in a one-on-one setting and gives them a chance to relate to someone other than their teacher on equal footing. This builds social skills and can help prepare them for the challenges of adulthood.
Teachers often have more requests for volunteers than they can fill, which can be discouraging to those willing to assist. To help them feel valued, consider distributing clearly defined guidelines on what is expected of volunteers. This will reduce confusion, making it easier for them to get involved and provide the support your students need.
The work of planning events can be stressful and exhausting. Event planners often spend their days working on email and phone calls, meeting with vendors, caterers and photographers. After a long day, they are likely tired and hungry.
The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) is a huge and influential nationwide organization with state and local affiliates. It promotes parent involvement and serves as a powerful voice in school improvement, advocating for students at state and national levels.
It’s important that schools create alternative ways to engage parents and families in order to reach those who may not be able to attend school meetings or volunteer. Schools also need to provide clear expectations regarding the time and talents needed for volunteers and be open to finding solutions when a parent cannot participate due to work or family obligations.