Times are not normal and the fallout can be felt on all different levels of life right now.
What 15 months ago seemed like a certainty is now up in the air.
So it makes sense to wonder how to address some of the uncertainty of the upcoming school year.
This post will cover ideas on how to recruit PTO leaders when times are anything but normal, and a lot of this information carries over to non-pandemic times as well!
Start with Fun
The foundation of a strong PTA/PTO is a group with dedicated volunteers and leaders who have mutual respect for one another, don’t gossip and act like adults.
After all, who wants to spend more time with catty women who are tearing each other down behind each others’ backs?
If you’re having trouble recruiting leaders for your PTO, make sure your group is built upon a strong base first.
You’re ultimately aiming for a strong sense of community, which you can establish by avoiding the nonsense and making room for fun.
Fun is had when things are organized, people feel needed and respected and it doesn’t feel like a chore.
Be Clear and Honest
The next thing to be aware of is to be clear and straightforwardly honest about what the commitment is for both time and the details of the role.
But also be clear on what choices are available to the potential leader.
Even in non-pandemic times, no PTO position requires anyone to live at the school 24/7.
If it does IRL for your group, then that job needs to be overhauled because that’s not realistic for more than a small handful of people.
This means you’ll always struggle to fill the position.
And then the job will go undone, or another volunteer will feel compelled to take it over, leading to burnout.
It’s also a huge selling point to have an information bank to give the potential new leader access to information so they can see just what’s involved.
Which group are you most likely to get involved with- the one who shows you an organized binder chock full of great info ready to be handed over or the one who says they’ll be there to support you, but doesn’t have a hard copy of information to share?
Hands downtime binder group, right?
But what if your PTO paperwork is anything but in order?
Focus on what you can do
To be very honest, it’d be s huge mistake for your group to focus on the woulda, coulda, shouldas of how life would be so much better if we didn’t have this pandemic to deal with.
Well we totally would, but life would still not be perfect and there’d be some other issue you’d have to deal with as a PTO.
But that said, there is a ton that PTO leaders can and should do during this funky time.
Find people who are willing to reshape the PTO and bring things into order so that when we’re past this, your group will be stronger and ready to go!
If your group is unable to operate as usual, looks for ways you can continue to have an impact and be effective.
This post has some great ideas for how to run your group during a pandemic.
Realities for the 21-22 School Year
There’s a lot still up in the air about the 2021-2022 school year, but based on an educated guess and what’s been happening through the pandemic, here’s the best guess on what things will look like:
- No matter where you live, school won’t be business as usual.
- There will be new procedures to follow.
- It’s probable schools will not be as open to having parent volunteers in the building during the school day as they have been in the past.
- It’s also likely that after school activities will continued to be curtailed, if not eliminated outright until the pandemic is more effectively contained.
- School COVID protocols are likely to remain in place until at least the Spring semester, or a few months after the approval of a vaccine for ages 11 and under.
The Upside of Leading a PTO right now
There are a few good aspects about being a PTO leader during these uncertain times.
Namely, the time commitment is a lot less right now than in “normal” times.
This is a great opportunity to be part of the leadership team knowing that the in-person time commitment won’t be as much as it has been in the past.
And because of the more relaxed schedule, this is also a fantastic time for volunteers who are interested in becoming leaders to ease into their roles and have lots of time for on the job learning, free from the fear of it all being overwhelming!
The bottom line is that while it is more of a challenge to find new PTO leaders, it can be easier to get them on board, knowing that there’s less going on in the PTO right now due to the pandemic.
Continue to look for opportunities to ask people to get involved, whether it’s a chance meeting at the playground, calling someone who attended a few virtual meetings this year, or a recommendation from a friend.