Learning to Say No

Saying no ought to be pretty easy. As parents, we tell our kids no all the time. But as PTA volunteers, chances are you have trouble saying no when someone asks you to do something. At a PTA training, the trainer asked the group what was the one characteristic that linked everyone at the training. The first answer was, “An inability to say ‘no’ when asked.” There are a lot of different reasons why we don’t say no—we don’t want to let down the kids or the principal, one of our friends from PTA is asking, or we want to be seen as a team player.

Edutopiarecently published an article on getting comfortable with saying no. While aimed at teachers, the article also applies directly to PTA volunteers as well. Learning to say no when someone asks you to take on another volunteer position is important. If your heart isn’t in the task or your skill set doesn’t align well with what the job needs, saying yes can lead to a lot of stress and frustration for you or an event that reflects poorly on the PTA.

The article suggests asking yourself a few questions before you say no.

  • Why are you saying no?
  • When you say no, are you offering a solution?
  • What do you want?

We often avoid saying no because it feels awkward after we do or because it sounds too final and absolute. The article also suggests three ways to say no.

  • May I have time to reflect?
  • I’ll need a day to think this through.
  • I believe in risk taking, but I’ll need to calculate this one.

All three of these responses provide you with the time to think through your answer and to do what’s best for both you and your PTA. Read the full article for further information on these questions to ask yourself and ways to say no.

 

News from National Convention—Membership

Membership is at the heart of PTA, so it’s not surprising that membership was the focus of several workshops and one big announcement at the 2018 National PTA Convention in New Orleans. The announcement? Every PTA leader who registers or logs in to the Local PTA Leader Kit(formerly the Back-to-School Kit) will receive a new DIY Kit for Membership Growth by mail while supplies last.

The kit contains everything local PTA leaders need to develop a Do-It-Yourself membership plan. Included in the kit are promotional posters, customizable membership resources, and a Design Your PTA/PTSA Membership P.L.A.N. booklet. PLAN stands for:

  • Pictureways to reach and attract possible PTA/PTSA members.
  • Listento what matters most to them and align your PTA’s efforts.
  • Askpossible members to join PTA by sharing PTA’s focus on what matters most to them.
  • Nurturerelationships year-round by communicating the impact your PTA/PTSA is making for your students, school, and community.

The guidebook walks you through each of the steps with examples, questions to consider, and brainstorming prompts for you and your fellow PTA leaders to develop a membership plan tailored to your PTA, your school, and your community. The guidebook is printed in both English and Spanish. Get yours today!

Workshops

The new DIY Kit for Membership Growth was a big focus of most of the membership workshops at the 2018 National PTA Convention. The other workshop focused on attracting more parents, students, and educators to PTA in middle and high schools. The latter featured Illinois PTA’s South Suburban Cook Region Director Darvel Stinson as one of the panelists.

Among the ideas floated at the workshop were events that would attract students such as a car care night (learn how to check and change your oil, change a tire, etc.) or a sexual violence awareness event. Consider partnering with business classes at your high school to handle running and marketing PTA Reflections at the school. If your PTA offers grants to teachers, require teachers applying for a grant to be PTA members, and offer extra consideration points for teachers who have attended PTA meetings or based on the number of PTA parent and student members in their homerooms. For teachers without a homeroom class, offer extra consideration points for their doing a project with the PTA that engages families.

The workshop also provided a handout with links to the following resources:

News from National Convention—Grant Opportunities

At the 2018 National PTA Convention in New Orleans, numerous new grant opportunities were announced that PTAs (and in some cases, PTA Councils and PTA districts or regions) can apply for. These grants provide an opportunity for your PTA to implement new programs and grow your PTA.

STEM + Families Science Festival Grants

Deadline: August 26, 2018

National PTA and Bayer have teamed up to promote Science Festivals with two unique grants available depending on your type of PTA. The 2018-2019 National PTA STEM + Families Science Grants sponsored by Bayer will award $1,000to 30 local PTAs to host a STEM + Families Science Festival, and $3,000to five State, District, Council or Region PTAs to partner with local PTAs in hosting Science Festivals. Learn more and apply.

STEM + Families Math Grants

Deadline: August 26, 2018

National PTA and Mathnasium are partnering to empower families to support student success and fill a critical gap in STEM education. The 2018 National PTA STEM + Families Math Grants sponsored by Mathnasium award local PTAs $1,000to host one STEM + Families Math event with students and families at their Elementary School. Learn more and apply.

Healthy Lifestyles Grants

Deadline: August 26, 2018

National PTA and GOYA-Move are partnering to support Healthy Lifestyles month by offering $1,000to 15 local PTAs who commit to hosting a “Get Off Your Apps” Physical Activity Event at their elementary and middle schools during the month of November. Learn more and apply.

Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards

Deadline: Enroll in National PTA School of Excellence by October 1, 2018

The Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awardsfor innovation in family engagement, named after National PTA co-founder Phoebe Apperson Hearst, recognize and celebrate achievement in building effective family-school partnerships. The awards are presented to PTAs that have earned the National PTA School of Excellencedesignation and demonstrated outstanding success engaging families in student success and school improvements. The awards are the highest honor National PTA presents to effective family engagement. Become eligible by enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program between May 1 and October 1 at PTA.org/Excellence.

Teacher Gifts That Go Beyond the Coffee Mug

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and the end of school is coming up fast. Are you at a loss for a gift for your child’s teacher? You know that another #1 Teacher mug is not the answer, but what is? Both National PTA’s Our Childrenmagazine and Great Schools! have suggestions for great teacher gifts.

National PTA’s article suggests:

  • Coffee and treats (perhaps with a gift card)
  • A supply gift box
  • A mobile battery charger
  • Something homemade
  • A crafty phone case
  • A personalized, handmade thank you card

Great Schools! has additional gift ideas, including:

  • Flowers or a live plant
  • A gift card for coffee, supplies, or something more indulgent
  • A gift basket with a theme
  • A donation to the teacher’s favorite cause
  • A donation to your child’s class

Avoid the mug or apple-shaped tchotchke. Check out both the National PTA article and the Great Schools! article for more information on these gift ideas.

Photo © 2011 by Edward Ross under Creative Commons license.