Are you ready to take a break?

November is almost upon us and many P&Cs are having their last meeting for the year next month. Have you considered if anyone in your executive is finishing up this year? There are a number of reasons people won’t be continuing. Without getting into the why, let’s be prepared for what needs to be done.

Firstly, identify your vacant roles. Ensuring you fill the Executive, Officers of the Association, is the first priority, President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer. In the QLD P&C Constitution there are a few conditions around who is eligible to take position in clause 12.1. Briefly, a President or Secretary cannot also hold the office of the Treasurer; the Principal may not hold a position as an Officer; the ratio of school staff must not be more than 1/3 of the executive; and no employees of the association. P&Cs must have 2 executive positions filled to be viable. Without 2 executive officers the Principal will place the P&C into care-taker mode until there are at least 2 officers elected. Consider also key roles for area’s like fundraising committee or swimming club.

Secondly, find candidates. If you don’t have members in the current committee wanting to take on an officer role you need to be engaging parents in the school to get them to come along in November’s meeting. Being clear about what the role entails will go a long way to reducing the anxiety someone may have about taking on the responsibility. Use resources from P&Cs Qld like the P&C Executive and their Responsibilities guide.

Thirdly, prepare for handover. Make sure your house is in order. Go through the checklists for each role. Use the P&Cs Qld resources again for P&C Executive  Handover Checklist. Another guide says to allow for a transition period of up to a month. In a job this would be acceptable as you would have daily repetitive tasks, but for an association that meets once a month, that makes it hard to get up to speed. Starting now, for handover at the AGM in March will help ensure your hard work is built on and not lost.

For me I found when I took up the role as Secretary these things were not done. It would have made the process much easier and maintained better continuity for the association. As a result, I have now built a cloud based solution that will take care the handover, guide new office bearers through processes, and have one place for all the documents. Check it out at processpa.com.

End the year on a high note. Reflect on all the achievements of the P&C for the year. Market those successes to the school to help promote involvement in the P&C by showing it does make a difference. Build a legacy for the community and leave the association better than you found it.

Any tips for a smooth handover, or stories of horror ones? Leave your comments below!

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5 Ways to Run a Better Meeting

With Term 4 now in full swing we only have a few more meetings to finish out the year. Now is a good time to have a refresher to keep going strong and have effective meetings. So here they are, 5 ways to run a better meeting.

1. Have a Clear Agenda

A well planned meeting is a well-run meeting. Make sure the Agenda is sent out with plenty of time for attendees to be across all that is going to happen. You want people’s input so make sure they have everything the need to contribute before the meeting. For example, if you want to pass a motion to purchase something, make sure all attachments, like quotes are sent out.

2. Stay Focused

You have an agenda. Stick to it. Have an idea of the time each agenda item should take and gently keep the meeting moving and on track. To ensure people do feel include, make sure you have given opportunity for attendees to add items to the agenda well before the meeting.

3. Make Sure Every Gets Their Say

Everyone wants to be heard. The chair of the meeting to ensure they balance personalities. Often it just involves checking in with the introverts. Make sure you hear feedback. Do your meetings go too long or even too short? Do people feel they are able to make a contribution? If you have someone who interrupts lots give them a stopwatch to keep everyone on track Smile.

4. Take Action and Follow up

The best meetings are where decisions are made. To be able to do that action items need to be done between of the meeting. Make sure any actions are clearly assigned with due date and are followed up at the next meeting.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

We get some great experience while volunteering in a P&C. Over time you will get better at all of the above. Be patient with yourself and others. Remember the greater purpose of why you are running the meetings. It is a tough but very important service you are providing. Hang in there!

Do you have any other tips? Please share them in the comments below!

Spring is here – Adopt a Farmer

Earlier this year at the P&Cs Qld Metropolitan East training day we had an absolutely delightful and inspiring talk by Ann Boon from Seven Hills State School in Brisbane. Her story of bringing  a garden into the school was featured on Gardening Australia in a segment you can watch here: The Barefoot Farmer.

Gardening Australia : The barefoot farmer

Ann detailed the journey she had. Some of the points I noted were:

  • Any program needs a champion to make it succeed. A parent can do this, but it is much more effective if you have a teacher take it up.
  • Engage the community. They had a Perma-blitz (Permaculture backyard blitz) one Saturday, had help from a permaculture design firm, and Stephanie Alexander gardening program.
  • Engage the kids in different ways than just the program. They had a scarecrow competition at the fair.

This got me thinking of other things that could be done to engage the kids and involve the community. My Granddad kept bees at his suburban house and this year I finally got a hive myself. You don’t need to be on a big property or in the bush. In fact bees in urban area’s have been thriving. I’m sure there would be local bee keepers happy to put hives on school grounds away from where kids are all the time. Bee’s are only active at the front of the hive and otherwise you don’t really notice an increase of bees around.

Now I understand this may have concerns with kids who are allergic to bee stings so I don’t know if it is something that could be done. But I will be investigating. My kids have loved the experiences of seeing inside the bee hive. Watching the bees work. Extracting the honey. Eating fresh honey and honeycomb. Giving honey to friends and family. And come spring we are gearing up for full production so they can learn some business skills and sell some honey. In a school the kids could sell the honey and raise money for a specific project they are interested in.

My BeesWatching the honey flow

To hear more about the plight of the bees and how important they are watch this TEDx talk, Every City Needs Healthy Honey Bees.

 

Is there any program like this your school runs? What else do you think we could do?

Find the volunteer talent within your school community

From the discussion on the survey results many people where asking for Volunteer form template that helps gauge how the broad school community can help. A big thank you to Janet from Highland Reserve State School who raised the idea and has shared the form they have used.

You can download it here: 2015 – Active Parent Helper Form – Highland Reserve SS P&C

Including a form like this in the Prep package that goes out to all parents of new preppy’s will likely get more responses and help new parents integrate with the P&C and school community. Another suggestion given at the P&Cs Qld Met East Area Meeting was to include on the form their just one thing to prioritize what they will do so the same people are not called on for everything.

Our P&C had taken on the same initiative. Wondall Heights SS P&C President Mark wrote this one you can download here.

2015 – Skills Assessment Form – Wondall Heights SS P&C

Ours only went out to parents at the start last week, so we are yet to see the effectiveness of our survey. It would be great if P&Cs who use these templates or modified ones report back here on how much response they get. This way we can optimize the form as a community to be more engaging and have better outcomes.

If your P&C has a form of their own you would like to share it please contact me on the About page and I can link it in this post or add a link in the comments. If you have ideas on how to improve the questionnaire, please share in the comments below.

Feedback and Feelings

April 2015. After the AGM. I felt blindsided by the work I needed to do, tracking everything down to get prepared for the meeting. I thought my volunteering job was supposed to be easy. Send out an agenda and take minutes at meetings. That’s what I was told. That was my handover. I can help out the school and be involved with staff and parents to improve the outcomes for our children. So why was I up at 11pm tracking down paperwork for the AGM.

I decided to reach out and find a better way to get this done. So I emailed other P&Cs to get their opinions. I have been overwhelmed with the feedback. The insights I have received in a month are much more than the previous year I was Secretary and year as member before that. Two years on a Kindergarten P&C also. The information you all have shared with me has helped me run things far more effectively. There is still much more work to do, but I see a path.

Below are the results I have tried to compile in a meaningful way. I’ve put them here so people have a place to continue the discussion that was started. If you have any questions please comment below or contact me on the About page.

(Click on the images to get a large version)

StateRespondantsLocations

Statistics

Subcommittees

Achievements

Challenges

75% indicated they want to discuss more. This is fantastic and understandable from a group of such community-minded, giving people. P&Cs Qld provides many resources to read on your own. Getting to networking events can be difficult when we have families and other priorities to balance. What I am providing here is a place to discuss with others, who are in the trenches, in a place that is hopefully convenient to many.

It goes without saying, but must be said. Any advice found here does not constitute proper legal advice. It is just a community discussion. Get ideas and hear others experiences, but before implementing anything in your P&C please ensure you solicit professional advice.