Organizing PTA Parent-Education seminars

Part of my responsibility as first vice president of my daughter’s elementary school parent-teacher association (PTA) is to bring in speakers to help educate the parents. Last year, I brought a speaker on cyber-bullying. My goal this year was to bring in two different speakers.

One of the fifth-grade teachers at her school is also member-at-large for the Texas Parent-Teacher Association. For the past few years, he has given a speech about Maximizing Parent-Teacher Conferences at the annual statewide leadership conference. But he has always told those of us who attend from his school that we shouldn’t attend his speech as he can always give us that information at a different time.

Last year, I wanted to get him to give this speech at our school but I approached him in the middle of September and we couldn’t get anything planned before conferences started in the middle of October. Instead, I had to settle for him writing a two-sided flyer that gave parents tips. (Check out my post about it here.)

This year I approached Mr. Shelby in August, and we scheduled his speech for the end of September as conferences begin mid-October. As with any presentation, you can plan and advertise it but getting a full house is a different matter. I think even Mr. Shelby was worried about getting people to show up. We had 26 parents attend which nicely filled up our library tables but is a real small percentage of the parents who have children attending the school.

The main point of his presentation is that the parent-teacher conference is not the first time you should see your child’s grades. In our school district, you can go online and check grades on homework and tests plus there are always papers coming home. There really should be no surprises.

The parent-teacher conference is a time to work with the teacher in deciding what areas your child needs to work on. Even good kids have something that can challenge them or maybe there is something that can push them to achieve more.

The second speaker I plan to bring in will speak on children and internet safety. I will be going through the Texas PTA’s Ready, Set, Achieve program since the CyberBullying one last year was so well done.

Internet safety is an important topic in our technology-driven society and with the ever changing technology and apps out there, I don’t think parents can attend too many of these talks. In fact the middle school just brought in someone from Homeland Security to talk about the same thing.

It was a good speech though most of the information covered was stuff that I have heard before. He recommended that you check your kids’ phones weekly. You should know who they are talking to just as you would want to know who their friends are if they were meeting with them in person.

He recommended the website as a way for parents and kids to learn more about online safety and the dangers of posting information online. To report Cyber Bullying, he recommended Both websites are hosted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

I’m looking forward to my January speaker and if he/she provides any useful websites or information, I will certainly write a post about it.

Anti-Bullying Seminar recap part II: Cyber-bullying

Last week, I wrote about a speaker I brought into my kids’ school. She addressed bullying in her presentation called, Don’t Stand By, Stand Up! It proved to be a good lecture and there was so much information that I had to break my recap into two posts. If you missed the first post where I addressed what bullying is, what signs to look for, and what students and parents can do about bullying, then click here to read it now.

Today, I will go over what she said about cyberbullying (using the Internet, cellphones or other technology to post messages or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person).

PrintWhile bullying, whether physical, social or emotional, happens while in the presence of a bully, cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Two other big difference is that cyberbullying can be done anonymously, and it is distributed quickly to a very wide audience. Deleting those inappropriate messages, texts and photos can be extremely difficult.

Types of Cyberbullying

  • Direct attacks sent to a child (harassment, put downs, rumors)
  • Cyberbullying by Proxy (using other to assist in bullying)
  • Vengeful Angel – sees themselves as righting wrongs or protecting others from the “bad guy”
  • Power Hungry or Revenge of the Nerds – anonymity gives them to power/control, may be a victim offline
  • Mean Girls – bully for entertainment, group admiration fuels them
  • Inadvertent Cyberbullying – role playing, anger response, joking around

Numbers very on how many kids are cyberbullied each year. But because social media is so prevalent in pre-teen and teenagers’ lives, there is a very good chance your child will be bullied online at some point.

Preventing Cyberbullying

  • Talk to your child about cyber bullying and the importance of reporting it
  • Have clear expectations about what they can post online and their privacy settings. As a parent, you should have access to their account and should occasionally review their online communication.
  • Learn about the sites they like and check out their devices.
  • Talk to you child about keeping passwords private (except from parents)
  • As a friend (or do it yourself) and “follow” your kids on social media (but beware that they may try to set up two accounts)

Make sure to explain the responsibility and cyber-ethics of going online to your teen but realize that many teens do find ways around your restrictions such as having two accounts or using someone else’s computer or phone to appear online.

What to Do if Cyberbullied

The best answer is to keep an accurate record of what happened. Take screen shots and use this evidence to report to web host and cell service providers, law enforcement if necessary and school administrators.

The key here is to Stop, Block and Tell. Don’t respond or forward messages, block the person and then have kids report the incident to their parents. Do not encourage your child to respond to the cyberbullies.

The problem with trying to stop cyberbullying is that schools have little control outside of the school. Many state legislatures are working of modifying their laws on bullying to better address cyberbullying. The State of Texas is working to pass “David’s Law,” a bill aimed at preventing and combatting cyberbullying by requiring school districts across the state to include cyberbullying in their district policies. If passed, the law would give school districts the ability to investigate off-campus events and collaborate with law enforcement on investigations.

Until there are better ways to track and stop cyberbullies, the best defense is educating parents and students. To find out more about cyberbulling and ways to prevent it, check out these internet sites.


The importance of parent-teacher conferences

As first vice-president of the parent-teacher association (PTA) of my kids’ elementary school, I am in charge of Parent Education. This means I need to find topics that interest the parents of my community and bring them information through speakers, reading material or internet sites.

Every time I do something for the parents in my community, I will do a corresponding post here.

img_5228I did a survey in September and one of the topics that piqued parents’ interest was how to have effective parent-teachers conferences. The flyer we passed out was written by one of our teachers who is on the Texas PTA and gave a speech at the Texas PTA Leadership convention on this topic.

Though this may be too late for anyone’s fall conferences, this information can be used in the Spring or even next year.


  • Like all good conversations, conferences are best when both people talk and listen.
  • Ask to see data about your child’s attendance, grades, behavior, social interactions, and test scores.
  • It is important for you to find out if your child is meeting school expectations and academic standards.
  • This is also a good time for your child’s teacher to learn about what your family home life is like. Does your child have hobbies, chores or other responsibilities?
  • When you tell your teacher about your child’s skills, interests, needs and dreams, the teacher can help your child achieve more.

Now on our flyer we included a section about the electronic grade book that our school district provides so that parents always know their students’ grades. If your school offers something like this, I urge you to sit down with your child and review their scores. Attending a parent-teacher conference should NOT be the first time you know about your child’s grades.

  • You may not always agree with what the teacher recommends. Just because it is recommended does not mean that it has to be done. Be open to ideas and work together.
  • Teachers may see or know a side of your child that you do not always know from home and vice versa.
  • Let this be an open dialogue and a chance to talk.
  • These meetings should be a time to discuss what has been working well and what can be done to help the student thrive to the best of their abilities.

Common Misconceptions

1.) These are not “Gotcha” moments.

2.) This is not a chance to tell your teacher how bad they are.

3.) This is not a chance to tell a parent how bad they are.

The point of a parent-teacher conference is to not only fill the parent in on how well your child is doing but is a way for teachers to find out more information about your child and your child’s family life. It is a time for families and the school to work together for the student’s success because both want the students to thrive, to excel and do their best.