We’re in the final countdown of summer break. (You’re welcome for that little ear worm.) Anyway, leaders of the PTA, PTO, Parentcrew, whatever they call it at your school, are trying to figure out how they’re going to gather new recruits to be home room parents, run the fall/spring carnival, throw various holiday parties in the classroom.
Some people go about this ethically and make a case for school pride, parent involvement and student achievement. We’ll call that Plan A.
If you want to get people to actually join your group and DO STUFF, you’re going to have to go with Plan B.
Step 1: Invite all parents to some kind of mandatory-sounding meeting. This could be Curriculum Night, a Meet the Teacher mixer, anything that implies information will be given they will need to know. Just say carpool in the note home and 80 percent of the parents will show up, if for no other reason than to complain about lanes or drop off/pick up procedures.
Step 2: It’s still hot. It’s August for crying out loud. Jack with the air conditioning. It should be just slightly warm in the room…enough so men coming straight from work will loosen their collars.
Step 3: Serve adult beverages. This will seem very hospitable. You will seem like a friendly group. It will also help warm up the group, literally and figuratively.
Step 4: Let a few of the VeryImportantInformation speakers drone on just the slightest bit too long. You’ll make your pitch last.
Step 5: Be adorable and quick with your pitch. You want to get them out of this meeting. You feel their pain. You’re on.their.side. Most importantly, be funny…and lace every joke with the slightest hint of parental guilt.
Step 6: Stand between the exit and the parents with your clipboard and sign up sheet in hand. A simple signature is their ticket out of that hot room, which now seems too small because it’s filled with so much expectation and obligation.
All they have to do is bring snacks to one party this year? Done! Just need a craft for Valentine’s Day? No problem! They just got the deal of a lifetime!
Now, do not be alarmed if you see them gasping for air in the hallway as they exit. This is normal. They were just emotionally waterboarded.
This may seem the tiniest bit harsh. I understand why some would shy away from these tactics. But this is not a time for lollipops and sunshine. This is elementary school. This is serious business.