Top 10 PTO Do’s and Don’ts

Top tips for what to do and not do to make your PTO / PTA great!  Fantastic advice for volunteers, officers and board members!

Looking to make your PTO better or your life easier as a leader?

Of course you are, so let’s dive into these top 10 things to do and not do!

1.  Fun should be the mission

Seriously.  

If you’re not having fun overall, then why are you doing it?

Now, I’m not talking about having fun while you’re doing everything that it sometimes takes to pull off events.  

But on the whole- are you having fun?

 Is all the work you’re putting in worth it?  

If not, time to move along and focus your energy into something that is fulfilling!

2.  Students Should Be at the Core of Everything

Maybe I should have put this as number one.  

But that doesn’t lessen the importance of keeping the students at the center of everything the PTO does.

I just think that this is something that every PTO volunteer and every PTO leader and every parent and every staff member at a school with a PTO needs to keep in mind.  

It’s all for the kids.

Kids are the reason the school exists and PTOs exist to serve students, staff and school families.  

So take a look at your programs and events, and make sure they are truly serving the kids.

If they aren’t find a way to tweak it or eliminate the program in favor of something that does have the students at the core.

3. Happy Teachers (and Staff) Make for Happy Children and thus, Happy Parents

When people feel appreciated, they will be much more willing to go above and beyond when asked, and perhaps maybe even when they’re not asked!  

And I’ve also found that happiness tends to have a trickle down effect too.

Generally, happier teachers yield happier children and that leads to happier parents!  

So while the students are the first concern of the PTO, don’t forget about addressing the needs and concerns of teachers and staff!

Because there is a circular support of the students when teacher and staff needs are met.

4. Don’t Steal from the PTO

Do I need to elaborate on this one?  

Didn’t think so.

Moving on…

5. Don’t Let Anyone Else Steal from the PTO

Now about not letting others steal from the PTO is a topic I’ll do a deep dive on!

Each and every PTO has the responsibility and duty to ensure that it is not being stolen from.  

I don’t think anyone actually thinks to themselves that they’ll be lax about things and then that’s when theft occurs.  

But I do think that folks let some things slide and then that’s when trouble happens.

For example, make sure an audit of the books is done by someone independent of the President and Treasurer each and every year.  

Require this in the governing documents of your PTO, the Bylaws and Standing Rules.

If you don’t have these governing rules, you now have a priority action to take with getting some drafted and approved by your group- now!

Here’s more on the process of updating your Bylaws and Standing Rules.

6. Be Selfless, But Not a Doormat

You’re involved in PTOP as a volunteer or leader because you want to give of your time and talents to make your child’s school better.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to be a doormat and take whatever the mean girls dish out at you!

Stop being a glutton for punishment and set some limits already! 

You have to take care of yourself and your family because nobody else is going to do it for you.

Get your spouse on board with what you’re doing for the PTO so they can support you!

It totally is possible to give selflessly, and not feel as if you’re getting walked all over.

If you feel like you’re the only one that can do something, perhaps it doesn’t have to be done!  

If it’s something you don’t want to give up, look for partners to help you.

7. Be Respectful

At all times be respectful!  

This is another thing that should go without saying, but when tempers flare and people get stressed out, it can be easy to lose sight of this golden rule.

Being respectful at all times will get you really far in the game.  

Others will notice and will return the respect.

If they don’t, then maybe then work to limit your contact with them.

Read more about how to deal with difficult people in PTO land in this post.

8. Don’t Gossip

Gossip contributes to a negative environment and feeds into the clique stereotype that abounds about parent groups like PTOs and PTAs.  

Try your very best to avoid gossiping for a healthy PTO.

9.  There’s no us vs. them

I see this come up in a variety of ways, and especially when it comes to miscommunications between the school and the PTO or the school district and the PTO.  

The plain fact is that there are a lot of moving pieces and parts in a PTO and also in a school and it’s super easy for miscommunication or even the wrong information to be communicated.  

No malice is involved.  

It  just happens because people are busy.

If you feel like the PTO’s goals and interests are in competition with the schools, then you had better have a sit down conversation with your principal ASAP and get on the same page.  

It won’t benefit anyone if the PTO and the school don’t have an understanding of what the goals and expectations are.

10. Don’t Compare Your Group to Others

Instead of looking at other parent groups and doing the whole compare and despair thing, treat what other groups are as inspiration and not as something that you’re doing wrong.  

Work with what you have and don’t beat yourself up that you can’t do more.

If you’re a new group just getting started, take care to have patience and keep plugging away.  You’ll find success soon enough.  

If you’re an older group,  find ways to re-group, claim what’s working and chart out a plan to success!

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Top 10 Dos and Don'ts for PTOs

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Recommended Resources

If you liked the advice in these 10 do’s and don’ts, you’ll really love the Complete Organizing and Planning Collection!

This bundle of resources is like a PTO in a box, giving you access to resources for every leader in your group!

Getting a current set of PTO Bylaws and Standing Rules doesn’t have to be a headache!

Get the complete guide to creating them from scratch or updating them with Bylaws and Standing Rules made simple.

You’ll love the detailed editable template that covers every scenario imaginable, all in plain English that anyone can understand and apply!

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Top 10 Dos and Don'ts for PTOs
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