Our elementary school PTA had a meeting today and, as usual, we had a minimal turnout. One new face, however, suggested that because a lot of teachers and parents at our school use Facebook, why not have a PTA Facebook page to communicate with parents. Right now our main form of communication with our parents is letters sent home in backpacks. And of course, you take a letter from the backpack, skim it, put it on the counter, another paper goes over it and you've forgotten the PTA ever needed anything.
I feel it is a good idea but I worry that some parents will feel a social networking site is inappropriate for an elementary school organization. We are a lower elementary with grades PK-2nd.
I would appreciate any advice.
Kyle, can you share some verbiage that we can post on our PTA Facebook page regarding good online citizenship/cyber-bullying? Would love to share with PTA members with a positive tone.
One way to increase turnout may be to set up babysitting cooperatives so that one or more members watch a bunch of your members' children, while the others can attend a meeting.
To fulfil a need in my house (to eliminate the cost of babysitting), I recently started with a teacher from school a website that manages and schedules babysitting with your friends by setting up a babysitting cooperative point online point management system.
The site is BabysittingBarter.com and it is free. Basically, it is pretty simple. Start a "village" with a bunch of your friends and family and shoot out a Babysitting Request (time, date, which children) to all the members using the site. Someone accepts and you pay them in points. Everyone starts with 30 points and BabysittingBarter.com keeps track of both the points and the schedule.
The site is free and it helps you essentially get free babysitting. I think it might be perfect for getting more members to the PTA meetings. You could set up a few villages and then just rotate one person who doesn't go to the meeting.
Just a thought.
Hi Jessica -
I've been speaking a lot on the topic lately and YES YES YES - do consider a PTA/School Facebook Fan page!
Here's a link to our recent blog post with a webinar summary and a list of helpful articles on:
Love your question, Jessica. We have several different communication tools for our K-5 PTA membership:
Facebook PTA page is excellent for schools working with a basic backbone of communication (paper as you mentioned above). As you consider Facebook as a platform, I strongly encourage that you deliberate on how you set up the Facebook PTA page from inception. Based on my recent research of businesses (small to large, consulting firms and mom/pop shops), no one offers more than a push-out/alert notification Facebook format. Certainly, this still enables people to comment on the wall post, but it limits conversation to the wall post topic.
Our Facebook PTA page was set up before I was voted into my position as VP/Fundraising. It is an open forum. I don't agree with it, but to change it might be difficult at this point because it would be considered censorship according to a small % of membership. Facebook is an interesting phenomenon. It is a social network, platform and vehicle. For your school, it is probably a fantastic leap from paper. For our school, it might be watering down all the other communication vehicles we provide. We do so much work to provide our membership as much information as possible for the entire year, and still...it is easier for members to simply ask on Facebook than to plug into all the documents we include online (live documents that are updated regularly) at all times.
Therefore, we are forced to reckon with a somewhat philosophical process management question we have to pose to ourselves:
Should we keep up with the times and make it easier for people thru the use of Facebook while we continue to load more volunteer responsibility upon ourselves to communicate effectively with our audience?
Do we all need to step back and train our members on proper usage of Facebook PTA page?
Or, do we move to general protocol based on research of what mass majority is doing...push-out/alert notification system of communication with our Facebook PTA page?
Facebook is a great option for you, no doubt.
The reason I ask you to deliberate on the set-up is that I have recently experienced parents cyber-bullying on Facebook. When a wall post invites a 25-to-30 thread of negative comments, it is a form of cyber-bullying. I had a parent take a private FB message I wrote (asking her to take her negative comments down and discuss with me directly) and post it - without my consent - on the wall of the page. When another influential PTA leader came to my defense in yet a separate private FB message, that leader's private message was posted on the public wall of our Facebook PTA page - again, without his consent. This act is otherwise known as denigration, one of the six most common forms of cyber-bullying...of which we can look forward to educating our children on in the future.
Based on your thoughts, I strongly encourage you to implement a Facebook PTA page. However, I would also strongly encourage you to keep it to a push-out/alert system of communication to create some form of decorum with the comments that follow. In the least, start out this way and it's still a win-win!
New things are growing pains, yet quality problems in my opinion.
Best of luck to you!