To say that this pandemic was a game changer for PTOs the past two years is a massive understatement.
Only it wasn’t quite the game changer we all would’ve liked, unfortunately!
In this post, we’ll explore how to rebound from the pandemic with the exact steps you should be taking!
We all are well aware of the totally bummer effects of the pandemic on our PTOs…
Cancelled events, programs and fundraisers left leaders scrambling to support students and staff.
This have been really off and none of us are better for it!
With the rollout of the vaccines, things will be getting back to normal.
But the return to something close to “normal” also comes a huge lucky break for all PTO and PTAs after a time of real hardship.
And that’s the unprecedented opportunity for a bit of a rebirth of your group starting with the upcoming 2021-2022 school year!
Cue the confetti cannons because this is something to get really excited about!
You see, people have been cooped up with their families for months and months, and as much as they love them, they need a break.
And our kids are bored and maybe even a little depressed about all the things they missed out during this extended time of social distancing.
So why can’t it be your PTO that provides that relief and return to plan?
You totally can!
Plan All the Things
Planning the rebound is the first step to take, which should be no surprise if you’ve been following me for a while!
Rebounding from the pandemic won’t happen without work and planning.
There’s just no way around it.
And you’ll need to plan a lot of different things too.
And what’s more, it’s really best to start that planning now and resist the urge to wait.
Because when you have a general plan to work with right now, you can more easily adapt the plan as things come up closer to the time the plan’s due to go into effect.
Pencil in Events & Programs
A good chunk of the rebound plan includes figuring out what programs and events your group will do next year.
Start out with a rough sketch to get the ball rolling and creative juices flowing.
Don’t be afraid to replan what you wanted to do this year, but couldn’t.
It really don’t have to be super complicated.
Students and families will be excited to come to tried and true events!
Just get some idea mapped out on paper in the form of a Planning Calendar and lay the ground work for a fabulous year!
Need a planning calendar that’ll give a little guidance about the best way to plan?
Snag a free one here:
Clear it with the Principal
Before you get too far into the planning process, be sure to talk it through with your Principal.
Be sure to keep in mind that your Principal and other building administrators are ridiculously busy trying to take care of everything for the current school year, so their time is super tight.
And their stress levels are also off the chart, so keep that in mind when you’re making the ask for the meeting or pitching your event and program ideas!
Even though they’re slammed with other things hogging their attention, still reach out early to start making possible plans for the upcoming school year.
Be respectful of their time and ask to make an appointment for a meeting or bring it up at the next PTO meeting.
Another fantastic reason to including your Principal in on the planning process early is that they very well may have some awesome ideas themselves.
And they could also clue you in to opportunities you didn’t know about!
Plot Out the Fall Membership Drive
In addition to getting back to going to events, school parents are likely ready to get involved like never before.
Whereas in the past getting help may have been like pulling teeth, you ‘ll probably find that it’s easier now.
This past year of cancelled events have show parents what it means without PTO.
Sure, so many other activities were canceled or curtailed as well, but think about all the things that normally come with school.
PTO wasn’t able to hold events or do many of the fun things they usually can for students and overall, that led to a whole lot of less fun.
And no doubt, parents are going to want to make up some of the lost fun by getting involved.
You just need to ask for their help in the right way!
Next, don’t skip the step of adding some leaders to your team.
You may very well be able to sketch out a general plan of action for the upcoming year all by yourself, but you sure as heck shouldn’t be trying to pull it off by yourself!
Now’s the perfect time to get others involved in the process and get helpers who are willing to lead your group through the recovery.
A word about trying to do everything yourself: DON’T.
You’ll only end up burnt-out and (probably a little bitter too).
Instead, here’s a post about the 9 Must Have Positions Every PTO Should Have.
Start filling all positions by also reaching out to parents who aren’t currently involved.
Don’t just contact the usual suspects.
The best PTOs have both experienced and fresh leaders involved.
Think of people who volunteered in the past either in a leadership position or as a program or event volunteer.
Give them a call, email, or text and let them know you’d love for them to get join the team.
Reach out to families who are new to the school this year or who will be enrolling for Fall too, and ask them to get involved as well.
Begin the official PTO elections process by following the game plan outlined in this super helpful post about everything you need to know about running elections.
An Honest Recruitment Angle
After months and months of anything but normal and isolation from friends and family, school families are going to be clamoring to get out of the house.
They’ll want to be with all the people they haven’t been able to see since the before times.
If a volunteer is hesitant to step up into a leadership role, let them know help is needed or the event may not happen.
If they want the fun, they’ll need to pitch in and help make it happen!
Being clear about the reasons they need to get involved is not a guilt trip, just the truth.
Using the reverse angle of this strategy will also be effective- stress how excited you are to bring the programs and events back to life.
Will they join you for all the fun?
Get Clear on an Effective Plan
To get more than a few people to join your PTO, you need to do more than send home a flier with a sign up form and call it a day.
You really have to sell your PTO by clearly explaining why and how PTO membership benefits them.
And this is no easy task considering you’re competing with to many other obligations and time commitments.
That’s one reason why the Parent Involvement Success Kit is a top recommended resource.
Inside you’ll not only find how to run a membership drive that actually inspires parents to sign up rather than avoiding eye contact with you and running!
The strategies in the guide will inspire parents to join like never before, taking a huge workload
Review Bylaws and Standing Rules
In addition to planning and recruiting new leaders, the other major task to take care of now is reviewing, and if necessary, updating your group’s Bylaws and Standing Rules.
If it’s been more than two years since your PTO Bylaws and Standing Rules since the last update they’re due for it.
Give both documents a good look over:
What can be clarified?
What needs more detail?
What processes and systems do you have in place that can be incorporated?
For example, do you have a process for virtual elections spelled out in them?
If not, now’s a great time to make that happen.
Remember that the purpose of both the Bylaws and Standing Rules is to literally get all PTO members on the same page.
And if you don’t yet have these governing documents in place, it’s time to make them happen ASAP!
This task is one that seems like a major headache, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Get Bylaws and Standing Rules Made Simple!
You’ll get a primer on why these documents are essential plus a ridiculously thorough template for both Bylaws and Standing Rules so you’re guaranteed to not miss a thing!
Plus, unlike other resources that are choice full of Old English and legalese, the templates are written in plain English, so you’ll understand every word, context and all!
Coming back from this once in a hundred year pandemic isn’t going to be easy.
Get some tools and resources to make your life as a PTO leader easier!
Here’s some to get you started:
First, take the hassle out of putting together an effective membership campaign and new member welcome packet.
All the fliers, forms and templates you’ll need are there with wording that’s ready to tweak and customize for a perfect fit.
Next, Bylaws and Standing Rules Made Simple is an essential tool for updating or writing your group’s governing documents.
The entire process of how to implement them in the first place or update them is spelled out in straightforward and clear plain English.
No gobbledygook to deal with!
Over to you!
Are you nervous or excited for the upcoming school year?
What ideas and plans do you have in mind?
Let me hear from you in the comments.