As a school administrator, teacher, or parent, you’re well-informed of the challenges of keeping both kids and adults on task and well-behaved. A back-to-school event is an excellent opportunity to start building engagement. Ahead we offer a few tips for getting the most out of the start of the school year. Use a professional invitation to set the tone for each event.
There’s something for everyone
There’s a hat for every parent to wear—and you can give up a few of your own by delegating. One goal of your first back-to-school event is collecting contact information from parents, and the next smart thing to do is organize it to get people volunteering. On your sign-up sheets, offer choices for what parent organizers might be interested in doing: room parenting, event volunteering, or whatever needs doing at your school. Then, use your Paperless Post address book to create separate, segmented lists for future emails and invitations. You’ll get better response rates and won’t bombard people with more than they can handle.
But try some variation
It’s natural to encourage volunteers to use skills they already have in abundance: turning accountants into treasurers, graphic designers into signmakers, etc. But consider that sometimes people want a break from their day jobs. Give volunteers a chance to rotate as they see fit through job duties.
The PTA meeting
Get the word out early about the first PTA meeting of the year and make sure everyone knows they are welcome. A few hints for your first meeting:
Make a good first impression. Greet parents at the door and encourage them to wear name badges.
Have babysitters on hand if you’re meeting in the evening—try to rope in teenage siblings.
Set an agenda. Keep it to four to six key topics and note how long you’ll spend on each one. Include time for questions.
Start and end on time. Distribute minutes to keep everyone on track.
Be clear and consider that you’ll be speaking to new parents—explain what is fall carnival is and why it’s important.
Ask for help. If you know what types of events or tasks you’ll need help with later in the year, go ahead and ask now!
School open house
A prospective parents’ event or parent open house is an exciting time to show off your thriving school community. Use the time to get people talking—what makes your school different? Encourage students to be available to share their experiences in school programs like the science fair, chorus, and art classes. Involve current parents in a lightweight way—station them at the entrance as greeters or in the gym to answer questions over refreshments. A few ideas to to consider when planning an open house:
Include a map of the school and the schedule of events.
Start with a short program in the auditorium or gymnasium.
Set up interactive tables for academic disciplines and any other relevant groups like the library, sports, or arts programs.
Leave time for self-guided tours. Have teachers (and students if you’d like) in their classrooms to answer questions.
School fundraiser event
School fundraising events can get a bad rap, but they’re essential to fund school initiatives. Make yours a seasonal event that the community looks forward to every winter or spring. If you’re in charge of planning yours, plan early. Start with a core team of three to five people, including a people person, a money person, and a project manager. Start with your monetary goal and make it clear what it will do for students. Expand your reach by sharing the invitation with the school email listserve using Paperless Post Flyer. Consider using a theme to make the event exciting year after year. We see a lot of successful:
Foodie events: Host a bake sale, popcorn sale, or pizza day.
Raffle or silent auction: Have parents and community members donate goods and services.
Carnival: Encourage local business to sponsor games or activities.
Not too much, not too little
You don’t want people so deluged with your emails that they start deleting yours off the bat, but you do want your constituents to know what the school is up to this year. If you’re struggling for newsletter or update inspiration: focus on achievements. It’s a good peg for a newsletter, and it also helps burnish your school organization’s sense of accountability and focus.
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