Sunday, March 11, 2012

PTA/PTO Communication: Always a Challenge

 How does your PTA communicate with parents?

I'm not going to lie... I find this to be an ongoing challenge. Parents are busy. Parents speak other languages besides English. Parents are distracted and sometimes not that interested. Some parents use the internet constantly (waving hand over here!), while others do not. Heck, I am on the board of our PTA and I spend a great deal of time writing newsletters, emails and Facebook posts, and still, I manage to let a few missives from school fall through the cracks.

Part of the reason parents don't get messages, of course, is because they are being bombarded with too many messages. Which is part of the reason I started this blog--to explore why so much is being asked of parents, and to maybe, over time, figure out how to simplify things.

So... here are my thoughts about communication... in no particular order!

Facebook Group: Love it! Pros: It's so easy to throw an announcement up there. When you have a question, chances are it will be answered quickly. Cons: Not everyone uses Facebook. It cannot be relied upon to reach all parents and therefore it has only limited effectiveness.

Email groups: They're fine, but less efficient and tidy than Facebook, in my opinion. When I get busy, emails--especially "mass" emails not written just to me--tend to fall through the cracks. Some parents at our school don't use Facebook for privacy reasons, and some parents don't use either medium regularly. So email cannot be relied upon to reach all parents, either. 

Robocalls: When our PTA wants to promote an upcoming event, we ask our principal to make a robocall--a pre-recorded message that gets sent to the landline or cell phone of all parents. I think robocalls are great! It's just they are only used for major events--not to reach out for volunteers, etc.

Texting: Our PTA does not yet send out mass texts but is something I would like to look in to. I think cell phones are more prevalent in people's lives than computers. If your school is sending out group texts, let me know how it is going!

Paper Newsletters and Flyers: Not my favorite option--by a longshot! Uses up a lot of paper, causes wear and tear on aging copy machines, and are often shoved aside with the piles of homework and other paperwork sent home in backpacks. Again, the issue of the "digital divide" comes in. Not every parent has email. Not every parent does Facebook. But every parent has a child with a school-issued folder for paperwork. So, at our school at least, the paper flyer isn't going anywhere.

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