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Attending the PTA LAUNCH conference in Dallas

After last year’s annual Texas Parent-Teacher Association Leadership Conference in Houston, I swore I wouldn’t be going to the one this year in Dallas. I had been to the state conference four times already, and there didn’t seem to be a need to attend a fifth time. That held true until in April when I was elected president of my daughter’s elementary school. After that I felt the need to go to learn some leadership tricks and tips.

As always, it was a fun, educational time. Most of us in attendance are officers on our local PTA boards though any PTA member or school official can attend. For this upcoming school year, I will be an officer on two different PTAs. As I said, I am PTA president at the elementary school, and I am on my second (and last) year as treasurer at my son’s middle school PTA.

There were classes to fit every interest level – from the basics of how to do your position (Treasurer, Parliamentarian, President, Fundraising, Secretary, etc.) to PTA issues (how to deal with contentious meetings or other drama, expanding membership, getting volunteers) to parenting issues (Lice, cyber bullying, talking about sex, online safety) and even personal things such as what to cook for dinner and how to save for college.

Here are the Classes and Discussion Groups that I attended.

Classes

Maintaining a PTA/Family-Life Balance – I had high hopes for this class helping me balance all the things I do. And while they covered delegating and prioritizing your commitments and activities, I didn’t walk away with a “game plan” on how to change anything as they claimed everyone’s situation was unique. I won’t say I didn’t learn anything but the session wasn’t as productive as I would have liked.

Connecting with your Tweens and Teens – This class covered common pitfalls parents make when talking to their tween/teens as well as how to handle conflict. This information can also be applied to others so definitely a winner of class.

Board Development: Essentials of a Successful Team – This course was all about knowing your board better. They had activities for ice breakers and team building. It was definitely a good session, and I will be implementing some of these activities into our first board meeting in August.

Emotional Leadership in Difficult Conversations – This was one of the best sessions. Conversations can become heated or tense when dealing with people from different backgrounds or just people who have different ideas of how the PTA should be run. This class talked about how to handle those situations and come out with both sides feeling like winners.

Discussion Groups

From Nervous to Fabulous – I do not like speaking in front of large groups. I have had to do it for the past few years as Treasurer, but I have never had to present the WHOLE meeting. Being nervous, I know I talk to fast so I went to this workshop hoping to find tips to make this school year’s presentations easier. I think I came away with some good information. Only time will tell if it helps.

Maintaining a Happy Marriage: Principals an PTA Leaders – I know this one is under discussion groups but still feel like it would help if the moderator either led the conversation (more like a Q&A) or if he had at least spouted out a few tips. As it was, I sat at a table with 9 other people, and we were supposed to tell our stories of working with the administration (or for the few teachers/principals there, their time working with the PTA Leaders) and get advice, feedback or at least commensurate with one another but I don’t feel that really happened.

There were many other classes or discussions I would like to have joined, but there is only so much time. And this doesn’t include the vendor fair, the regular PTA annual meeting, special lunches and banquets that attendees can attend. (Of that last list we only made it to the vendor fair and that was for the free samples.)

It was fun, informative weekend but since I have been for now five years in a row, I don’t plan to come back next year. OK, I know I said that last year, but this time I mean it.

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