For the fourth year, I attended the annual Texas Parent-Teacher Association Leadership Conference. This year it was in Houston, Texas. Last year it was in my hometown of San Antonio which was awesome as it allowed us to send more board members. (It rotates every year between Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.)
Most of us in attendance are officers on our local PTA boards though any PTA member can attend. For this upcoming school year, I will be an officer on two different PTAs. I am on my second (and last) year as first Vice-President (in charge of programs and parent education) for my daughter’s elementary school. I will also be the treasurer at my son’s middle school PTA. It is his (and my) first year at this school.
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.
Even though the middle school PTA was footing the cost of my trip, I tried to take classes and lectures for both positions. I have been treasurer before so it wasn’t too big of a priority to take too many classes on that topic.
Here are the Classes and Discussion Groups that I attended.
You are what you tweet: The importance of teaching kids to be safe and responsible online – This was an awesome course taught by a British magician. He used magic not only to keep our attention but to get across his points about the importance of teaching your kids to be responsible online no matter if they are using an app, posting on a website, emailing or chatting.
Five Foundations to empower you kid for life – This class was taught by a former wrestling coach. With all the media stories about kids being entitled, this class talked about ways to empower your child by balance supporting them and letting them struggle.
Common Cents – This is the one treasurer class that I decided to take since it promised to touch on topics not covered in the resource guides or the BASICS: Treasurer class. Unfortunately, I don’t think I learned anything that I didn’t already know. And to top it all off, this speaker wasn’t interesting at all but at least he did know his stuff.
BASICS: Programs – This one I hoped would give me ideas for programs or parent education. There really was nothing wrong with this class and if I was new to the position or new to a PTA board this class might have helped. But for me the only good thing is I got to hang out with a friend who moved away last year.
Kick the Middle School Blues – Parent involvement declines as kids get older. At this discussion group, other PTAs shared what worked for them in getting parents involved at the Middle School level. I had been thinking more about volunteers but the discussions really focused more about how to get parents to events. Since I am new to the middle school, I will have to wait and see if suggestions help.
Every Member Counts: Connecting with all Parents – I will say that this was probably my favorite discussion group because it was lead by a great leader. I love every one of her lectures that I have attended and she did a good job here. She shared ways to get more parents involved such as having the parents in the car pickup line do micro-projects. And she was great at balancing sharing ideas with taking questions and having others shared what worked for them.
Meetings, Motions and the “PTA” way – This discussion group was lead by the president of the PTA. She first went over how a meeting should go and how to make a motion but then opened it to questions. Overall it was very enlightening.
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.)
It was fun, informative weekend but since I have been for four years in a row, I don’t plan to come back next year when the conference returns to Dallas.