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Tips for Being a Successful President
To be a successful PTA president requires planning and delegation. The first couple of months will be the busiest of the year because you will be making plans for the entire year, forming committees, selecting/electing committee chairs, preparing the budget for presentation and approval at the first general meeting, planning and conducting the PTA membership drive. The following are a few hints to help you:

1. Trainings. Take advantage of the training offered to you and your officers by the State PTA and the Council. You will be better prepared and will know what to expect, how to accomplish programs, and who to call if you have a question.

2. Preparation. Read your unit’s Bylaws (these are the rules that govern the unit), the Council Handbook, the NC PTA President’s Handbook (which comes in the NC PTA Unit Packet) and the information packet from National PTA. Look over the past president’s procedure book.

3. Early planning with your principal and your PTA Board allows everyone to know what to expect. Then when the plans are made and approved by the Executive Board, sit back and let everyone do his/her job.

4. Share the NC PTA Unit Packet with your fellow officers and committee chairs. This packet is “stuffed” with information that needs to be shared with your fellow officers and committee chairs to help them do their jobs.

5. You can’t do it all! A good leader learns to delegate to his/her fellow officers and committees. A very common failing of PTA presidents is to try to do it all themselves. STOP! If you do all the jobs yourself, you (1) will burn out and (2) won’t be training new leaders to follow you.

6. Parliamentary Procedure. You need to acquire a basic understanding of parliamentary procedure in order to conduct your meetings correctly. The NC PTA President’s Handbook has some information in the Appendix that will be useful. Also try to attend that workshop at the State Convention or Summer Leadership workshop.

7. Meetings should start on time, end on time and follow a written agenda. Stick to your agenda to keep the meetings moving smoothly.

8. If you have any questions, CALL our District Director OR the Council President. They can help you find the answers, or the people who can give you the answers.

Here are a few important items you should check on:
...Does the State PTA office and the Council has your name, phone number and address?
...Has your treasurer filed all required tax forms? Does the treasurer know when and to whom to write checks for the Council dues and the State and National membership dues?
...Work with the treasurer to prepare the budget for approval by the Executive Board and the general membership.
...Do you know where there is an up-to-date copy of your unit’s bylaws? Bylaws MUST be renewed every 3 years.
...Plan the PTA Membership Campaign with your Membership chair and the Executive Board.
...Is your unit is in “good standing”? Can it participate in Reflections, Awards, and other programs? To be in “good standing”, bylaws must be renewed at least every 3 years and membership dues paid. Not only will your unit not be allowed to participate in PTA programs such as Reflections, Scholarships or Awards, but your unit’s name will be turned in to the IRS and you could lose your non-profit status and tax exempt number.

REMEMBER: You can’t do it all! It takes everyone working together to be successful—for the kids.

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LEADERSHIP BASICS
Leadership is a word that is easier to say than achieve. How do you make yourself a leader? What is good leadership?
The goal of leaders is to eliminate the feeling of powerlessness in each member and the mindset that says, “It’s not my problem; I can’t do anything about it.”
Leadership involves just a few simple elements: (1) Vision, (2) Getting everyone involved, (3) Listening to people and (4) Accountability.
If you have a vision of what your PTA stands for, then advertise that vision. Post it on walls, put it in your newsletters and handbooks, re-state it at every meeting.
When the members begin to see the vision includes everyone in the school, they will begin to feel less alienated and more a part of the group. You have to make everyone feel a part of the problem-solving process.
A good leader is one who recognizes his limitations and realizes his need for the help of others as the first step towards solving a problem.
Effective leaders must have a respect for and an interest in all the people in the organization – not just their friends. Leaders express interest best by listening to what others say. Listening is also a way to learn new information to help in the problem-solving process.
Good leaders do not micro-manage. A leader should make assignments and then allow the person to “do” the job their way without constant hovering or comments on the way the job is being accomplished. Remember there is “no” specific way to do a job and the chairperson may come up with some great new ideas that you hadn’t considered.
One last quality of a good leader is accountability. Good leaders must be willing to accept responsibility for the good things what happen, as well as accepting responsibility for mistakes. And, remember that mistakes can be a learning tool when used as a stepping stone to trying another solution. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you are a failure. All of the great inventors didn’t succeed the first time. Success comes from trying to solve problems and including everyone in your vision, not just the elimination of the problem.
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RESOLVING CONFLICT
Dealing with conflict is a challenge many PTA presidents experience. There are three many causes for conflict: (1) individual conflicts, (2) problems relating to association activities or (3) opposition to PTA policies/positions by outside groups.

Common examples of situations that result in conflict within PTAs include: personality clashes, improper accounting of funds, nominating and election procedures, PTA involvement in issues, and between PTA and other parent organizations.

Situations that have potential to create conflict can often be avoided by being prepared:

>>>Be knowledgeable about PTA, the Objects of PTA, its programs, legislative policies and the structure of the organization. Refer to PTA publications or your District Director/Council President for information.

>>>Be familiar with your PTA bylaws and standing rules. (Most local units only have bylaws.) Make copies of the bylaws for all board members to keep in their procedure books.

>>>Follow the PTA nonpartisan, noncommercial and nonsectarian policies.

>>>Be informed about issues effecting children and PTA’s stand on the issues. If you are speaking “for” your PTA, you must take PTA’s stand on the question. If you are speaking as a private individual and the person to whom you are speaking doesn’t identify you as “PTA”, you may give your personal feelings.

>>>Plan ahead. Prepare an agenda for all meetings and adhere to the agenda. If another issue is raised, as president you make rule it out of order and announce that you will put it on the agenda for the next meeting. Then do so.

>>>Encourage discussion by allowing time for all members to voice their opinions. If there is a major question being discussed, you might want to announce before the discussion that there will be specific time limits for all speakers and that the pros and cons will alternate so that all sides will be heard from. Appoint a timekeeper and adhere by the rules you have set. Be respectful of all members’ views.

>>>Cooperate and communicate with the principal. Be aware of your school district’s policies regarding the issue.
Your council officers, district director and the State PTA Office (1-800-255-0417) are resources for problem solving and conflict resolution. Don’t be afraid to call “before” or “during” a conflict to seek help.

HOLDING SUCCESSFUL PTA MEETINGS
PTA meetings don’t have to be a “necessary evil” in the life of every president – or member. To keep up the enthusiasm for attending meetings, you will want to have the most productive, interesting meetings possible. Here are a few helpful hints:

1. Careful planning of the meeting will include a written agenda.

Copy and hand it out to the board or to a general membership meeting that will include several items to discuss and vote on. An agenda is an important tool in keeping the meeting organized so you can complete the necessary business items. You might consider putting a time limit on the discussion of each item.

Agenda items should be listed in the order fitting the needs of the group. Hand out copies of minutes, financial report or any other items to be considered so everyone has a chance to look over them before being asked to discuss and vote.

New items mentioned at the meeting that are not on the agenda do not have to be discussed at that meeting. However, if it is an “emergency” item, you might want to waive the agenda to allow discussion of that one topic. Otherwise, you may “table” the item(s) until the next meeting.

2. Meeting announcements should be sent out early and in a way that the most members will get the message. For general membership, announcements are usually made through school newsletters, special take-home sheets, outdoor school bulletin boards.

Board meetings can be at a regular time each month or specific time and announced at the first board meeting.

3. Meeting times should be planned when the most people are able to attend. Make sure general membership meetings do not conflict with your “feeder” schools’ meetings.

4. Don’t hold a business or committee meeting unless it is necessary. If you bring people together without anything for them to do, they will begin to “not” show up when you need them.

5. Start the meeting on time and end on time.

6. Make your meetings meaningful. Give they audience what they came for. Tell them why you are there and what needs to be done.

7. Don’t forget that meetings can serve a number of different ends: education about new ideas or programs, encourage democratic participation, share decision making, cooperative planning, and social interaction.

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