Imagine thousands of women and men all with the same goal – to improve the lives of their teachers and students. That is exactly the type of people attending the Texas Parent-Teacher Association Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas last month.
Most of us in attendance are officers on our local PTA boards though any PTA member can attend. One school brought their whole PTA board of 20 people!
This was my second year attending the conference. (Last year, it was in Houston and next year it will be in my hometown – San Antonio.)
There were classes to fit every interest level – from the basics of how to do your position (Treasurer, Parliamentarian, President, Fundraising, Secretary, etc.) to PTA issues (how to deal with contentious meetings or other drama, expanding membership, getting volunteers) to parenting issues (Lice, cyber bullying, talking about sex, online safety) and even personal things such as what to cook for dinner and how to save for college.
Last year when I went, it was my first year as Treasurer so most of the classes I took pertained to my position save one, which was on using technology in your presentations. (I already love doing graphics and videos so it was right up my alley and proved very useful.)
This year, since I was already secure in my current position, I mostly took other classes that interested me. That might be why I liked this year’s conference so much better than last year’s.
Here are the Classes and Discussion Groups that I attended.
Treasurer Basics – Took this one the year before but came in late and thought I could make sure I am doing everything right. However, with all the questions from the audience, the speaker only covered a third of her presentation. This was my least favorite class and the only one I turned in an evaluation form on.
Making the Treasurer’s Job Easier through Financial Transparency – Last year, we bought the program PT Avenue to keep track of our members, volunteers and finances. I took this course to see if I was taking advantage of all the financial features of the software. The speaker was very funny, and I learned a few new tricks.
Increasing Participation in Events and Volunteer Opportunities with PT Avenue – Again, I took this course to better use the features of our new software. I learned some things to pass on to our volunteer coordinator.
Friends, Frenemies and Fitting In – This one was personal. My seven-year-old has already been talking about the drama of the classroom. This week Madison is her friend and the next week she complains Madison is being mean to her. Nora doesn’t like her, and James said this or that about her. And I only see this as getting worse. The course was very good. The woman talked a lot about what parents should do in certain situations and about teaching girls to like themselves.
Bylaws and Standing Rules – You would think this might be a boring topic but the lecture just flew by. I learned a lot and as we update our bylaws in the next year or so, I am sure this course will help out.
Why PTA in 5 minutes or Less – This was a fun session where we brainstormed what to discuss with other parents who are reluctant to join the PTA. This was an excellent example from one of the groups.
The value of our PTA is found in the programs and resources we can provide above and beyond what the school can provide. We hope to engage families to take an active role in the lives of their students to help them reach their full potential. It’s about leveraging and enhancing our students’ learning experiences. And through the PTA we can influence legislative action such as advocating for state testing changes and be a voice for our kids.
Conflict Stinks! Can’t we just get along? – We have very little conflict in our PTA, but it happens. This session made me value the excellent parents of our PTA. We certainly are better off than some of the other people who brought up issues in their PTAs.
There were many other classes or discussions I would like to have joined, but there is only so much time. And this doesn’t include the vendor fair, the regular PTA annual meeting, special lunches and banquets. (Of that last list we only made it to the vendor fair for the free samples.)
I went with three other ladies from the PTA, and we never went to a class together so we could gather the most information to share with our board. It was fun, informative weekend and next year, with the conference is in our town, we hope to send even more people to it.