HOW TO HOLD AN INCLUSIVE PTA MEETING

SCHEDULING YOUR PTA MEETING:

  • When setting PTA meeting dates and times, consider possible conflicts, religious holidays and limitations that may prevent some from attending.
  • How about alternating days of the week and times of the day when scheduling PTA meetings?  Consider surveying your school community to find best ways to reach most families.

MEETING LOCATION:

  • Assure your meeting location, restrooms and other needed facilities are accessible to all attendees.
  • An easier to find space makes for a more prompt arrival of attendees and on-time start!
  • Use signage that is clear and legible by all.
  • If the meeting is outside the school, consider locations that are near public transportation and have ample parking.

ANNOUNCING THE MEETING:

  • Consider digital access limitations when sending out fliers electronically and provide in print when needed through the school’s backpack or snail mail. 
  • Your building principal may ask teachers to include a reminder on the day of the meeting when children write their homework in their agenda planners.
  • Send out by email and post on the PTA website, Facebook page, and other social media platforms.
  • Outreach through class parents.
  • Have handouts with all monthly meeting dates at school and PTA events.
  • Publicize using the public library bulletin board and other community groups’ locations.
  • Assure digital and/or paper fliers are sent in all spoken languages in your school.  New York State PTA offers translation service to 44 languages.
  • When using any electronic translation, such as Google Translate, try to have a native speaker proofread the translated flier for accuracy.

SPACE SETUP:

  • All those who attend should be able to have a good view of speakers, screens, etc. so all attendees are able to see and/or hear and engage with each other.
  • Have all handouts, sign-in sheets, etc. near the entrance and easily accessible.
  • Consider seating arrangements that make everyone feel equally engaged and significant rather than classroom style or the PTA board facing the audience.
  • Board members, when possible, may be spread throughout the space to mingle and meet other members.
  • When holding a “hybrid” meeting, ensure microphones are placed in locations able to pick up the voice of anyone speaking so those attending virtually can hear them.

MEETING ENVIRONMENT:

  • Leaders need to be open-minded, presentable, and approachable, make others feel comfortable.  Always realize the significance and responsibilities of leadership roles and how they can impact perceptions and recruitment of members and future leaders.
  • Consider PTA board members taking turns greeting attendees as they arrive at meetings.
  • Acknowledge new members/attendees as they come in.
  • Name badges make it easier to properly address individuals and learn their names.  Take the time to learn how to pronounce names correctly.  Correct pronunciation of names is more than a common courtesy.  It is a significant sign of caring and inclusion.
  • Consider having crayons, coloring books and activities for children accompanying their family members to quietly entertain themselves.
  • Adhere to the meeting agenda, lay the ground rules at the start of the meeting and treat all with respect and consistency.
  • Allow opportunities in the agenda for feedback and attendee engagement when appropriate, making it clear to all that their suggestions will be welcome.
  • Avoid terms that may offend others, e.g. guys, ladies and gentlemen, handicapped, minority, etc.
  • When holding a “hybrid” meeting, assign someone to check and address the chat.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE:

  • If food and/or beverages are provided, proper sanitary precautions need to be observed.
  • Be sure to take into consideration dietary and religious restrictions as well as food allergies.
  • Provide clear and accessible packaging information /ingredients for those purposes.
  • Serving tables should be accessible to all attendees.

HANDOUTS AND OTHER MATERIAL

  • Assure all handouts are translated into all spoken languages in your school.
  • For deaf members and non-English speakers, request the help of your school’s resource center, administrators and parent or student volunteers to have interpreters available.  

Finally, collect contact information and follow up regarding topics or issues that need to be addressed later.  Unless people feel heard, they are unlikely to return to future meetings.