You may have seen the movie Bad Moms. It is rude and funny and all the things these type movies are supposed to be and, honestly, I love it. In addition to all the rudeness and hilarity, there is a powerful stereotype at play here. The “PTA Mom”. You know the one I mean…Gwendolyn. The PTA Mom who runs the school with an iron fist. Then there’s Amy, the Bad Mom, who never gets things quite right. I expect we’ve all seen some version of this story play out in our own volunteer experiences.
Volunteering is important. It is important to the organization, as well as the volunteer.
Parent-Teacher groups depend upon the generosity of parents. We need their time, talents and resources to support the school and the children we love.
Being a volunteer for a cause one finds important creates a sense of belonging, the opportunity to provide value, and a social network for the volunteer.
It’s back to school season and our roles as “PTA Moms” are ramping up. We’ll be speaking at the Meet & Greet or Curriculum Night. We’ll be asking folks to volunteer and guiding those volunteers in the ways of our organization. We’ll be welcoming new parents into the fold. In general, we’ll be on display for the rest of the school to see…and judge. How we present ourselves will have an enormous impact on who steps up to volunteer. And, who doesn’t.
What will these parents see and feel when you stand in front of them? How will they feel about joining your Parent-Teacher Group? Where do the “Bad Moms” fit in?
I challenge you to consider yourself from the perspective of teachers and other parents.
- Do you welcome new volunteers with new ideas?
- Do you seek out the new parent volunteers in your community or do you stick with your tried and true tribe of volunteers?
- Do you micromanage your team or allow them some creative license?
Consider, too, how the teachers feel about you. Remember, our job as a Parent-Teacher Group is to support the teachers.
- Do the teachers at your school see the value you bring?
- Do you ask teachers what would be most helpful to them?
- Do you have an active teacher representative on your board?
To have a strong and successful Parent-Teacher Group that strengthens the school community and supports the efforts of teachers and staff, it needs to be welcoming and inclusive. We need to find ways to encourage participation from many, not few. It should be easy for interested parents to get involved.
In short, don’t be Gwendolyn!
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