For those of you who want to know more!

 

Thank you for being the room parent for your teacher this year. We have this big long document full of tips and best practices and we decided to put it online and let those that want to read it, click the link to get here.

First Steps for a Successful Start - What Will You Do?

  • A room parent's main task is to facilitate communication between other parents and the teacher, the PTA, and occasionally school administration. This can vary widely from class to class, teacher to teacher, and especially grade to grade. For the most part, as a room parent you will forward emails to your classroom from the PTA "Room Parent Liaison", organize classroom helpers, organize and collect donations and volunteers, and anything else your teacher might ask of you.
  • First Things First! Meet the Teacher
    • Teachers' expectations of their room parents vary widely. Some rely heavily on volunteers to pull together all events and parties; others have specific ideas and will ask parents to coordinate only certain parts. Either way, it's critical to find out your teacher's preferred way of doing things early on and stick to it.
    • Then, as the year goes on, it's a good idea to check in with your teacher periodically to ask whether they need anything.
  • Get a List
    • Ask your teacher for an up-to-date parent email list.
    • Ask the teacher if they prefer you keep the list private, or if everyone can see everyone else’s name and email.
    • Play Fair
      • Email is a very convenient way to communicate with a group of parents, but there are a few issues you should be aware of. You may come across families who don't use email; take the extra step to include them in communications by calling or sending a note in their child's backpack.
      • Before assuming it is okay to text anyone, ask for permission first and for their preferred method of communication.
    • Set up a distribution list and send out your first email to parents introducing yourself and your role
    • >> Click here for a sample introduction letter.  <<
      • Please ask the group if they would like to be on this distribution list and remove any that request it
      • If a new family joins your class during the year, ask the teacher for their info
      • We have a “New Family Chair” role on the PTA that is available to answer questions. You can direct any new families’ questions to newcomer@elmorropta.org
      • If a family leaves the class, be sure to take their email off any distribution lists
  • PTA Requests
    • When the Room Parent Liaison sends out emails for the room parents, they will have instructions at the top. Most of these communications are to be sent to your classroom parents, others are for your information only regarding an upcoming event.
      • Instead of forwarding the email, the best way to get these messages to your class parents is to open a new email and cut and paste the contents into the new message and then add your contacts in the recipients list and send (within 24 hours of receiving it from the Liaison).
    • Get to Know Your Co-Room Parent(s)
      • Establishing a warm connection early on with your co-room parent, if you have one, is another important aspect of how successful your year will be.
        • Sometimes you get lucky and are paired with someone whose style meshes with yours.
        • If you're really lucky, you'll get someone who happily picks up the slack when you're overloaded, and vice versa.
      • In situations where personalities and styles differ, it's important to learn to work together. That might mean coming up with a more formal arrangement to get things done-for example, you handle the Halloween event, the other room parent organizes the winter holiday party, and so on. Remember that you both checked the "yes" box in the first place because you care about your kids' experience and want to help in the best way you can.
    • Use Technology
      • If your teacher has a weekly schedule that allow parents in the classroom, you can use online calendar and planning tools such as signup.com or any others you might prefer.
        • Just remember to keep your contact list private
        • Never allow children's photos or names or contacts to be on public websites.
      • If the volunteering is requested by PTA (not the teacher), please send all parents to use the PTA's website to signup, as this helps the chairs of each committee know where they need to fill in the gaps. Do not have your families sign up for events on your own signup form. This is not helpful for the event coordinators.

Event Coordination & Party Planning

  • Classroom Parties - Party Planning Guidelines
    • Check in with your teacher a month prior to the party and determine:
      • Day/Time/Duration -usually 45-60 minutes/Location/# of Students
      • Preferences for food/games/craft/rules/younger sibling attendance
      • Food Allergies– identify foods/ingredients that cannot be served in class
        • Consider communicating with parents whose kids have food allergies
        • Determine if the planned treats will be safe for their kids
        • Be sure to communicate to all parents what allergens to avoid when asking for food donations – check labels!
      • Brainstorm ideas with the other room parents
        • Have fun! Look online for ideas, ask veteran room parents, or the Room Parent Liaison for help
        • See sample letter for how to ask for help and donations
      • Send a quick party summary to the teacher before asking for parent volunteers
  • Staff Appreciation Week
    • You will receive a message from the Staff Appreciation Team that outlines a schedule of appreciation events during a week in May (e.g. Monday: bring a handmade card for your teacher, Tuesday: bring a flower for your teacher…)
      • Forward the information onto your classroom families and remind them of the daily special events for the teachers and staff
      • If possible be available, or find another parent volunteer, that can be on hand to organize the flower bouquet for your teacher on “bring a flower day”
  • Volunteer Scheduling
    • Your teacher may want you to schedule volunteers for certain activities. Check with your teacher, each is different
  • Classroom Gifts and End of the Year Teacher Gift
    • >> Refer to the sample letter here.<<
    • It is greatly encouraged by Mr. Duddy to not collect a lump sum of money for the entire year. This policy is put in place for your protection.
    • All donations are optional and cards should include everyone’s name regardless of who contributed.
    • It is advisable when collecting contributions to send an email as well as a letter home with students (and an envelope) with specifics for what you are working on as well as a deadline.

Odds and Ends

  • Sources of Help
    • Your team of Room Parents
    • Classroom Parents – Parents are more willing to help if they are personally asked
    • Veteran Room Parents
    • Room Parent Liaison
  • Delegating Responsibilities
    • Your teacher may have a list of parents who signed up at Back to School Night to help with class parties and other events.

Common Questions:

What will be my main responsibilities as a Room Parent?

If you are a first-time room parent, we are always here to support you if you have questions. 

As a room parent, you may begin by setting up a meeting with your teacher to talk about how to best communicate with them as well as plan out the year for how you can help support their class.  Many classes use share sites to have personalized class pages to communicate to the class. You can upload important dates, post class pictures, and leave messages.   Room parents usually coordinate class parties, teacher appreciation week for the class, and teacher gifts - as well as pass along messages from the PTA that will come through our room parent liaison.

 

Can I collect money at the beginning of the year from the class for teacher gifts?

The school policy is that money should not be collected in a lump sum for the year.  This is in your best interest, due to liability reasons, to not hold that financial responsibility. As an occasion approaches, it will be okay to ask at that time for that event.

 

What is my involvement with the PTA?

There will be times throughout the year when the Room Parent Liaison will send you information to forward to your class contacts.  Times such as PTA Association Meeting Dates, Book Fair, Boo Blast, Colonial Days, and Jogathon, there will be important information to forward on to your class.

 

Do I have to be a PTA Member to be a room parent?

Not technically, however, the $15 membership is a small way to show your support for the many programs that benefit your child.  You can sign up online if you have not yet already this year.  Thank you!

 

Do I have to do everything by myself for the class?

No... check with your teacher if they are okay about sharing the duties with another parent in your class.  However, it is best to have one main parent contact with the teacher.  Don’t be afraid to recruit other parents for volunteering, parties and anything else that comes up.  Many parents look for those opportunities to be a part of the class.

 

We have a great business that our class may be interested in. Is it okay to promote my business to the class?

Unfortunately, you would not be allowed to promote a business through being a room parent.  There are so many other ways you can promote your business at the school such as sponsoring community events like Boo Blast and/or Jogathon.

 

I had a parent ask for the list of emails for a birthday party.  Am I allowed to share their contacts?

By using a share site such as Shutterfly, the class may also communicate to each other through the site.  We recommend encouraging parents to communicate through the share site at least until they make their own connections.

 

~

 

As the liaison between the teacher and the classroom parents, you are a vital cornerstone in the El Morro

community. Your generous donation of time, talents and efforts are appreciated by many, including the PTA, El Morro staff, parents and especially the students!

 

Thank you again for becoming a Room Parent. Have an awesome year!

 

2021-22 Room Parent Liaison: Andrea Heins RoomParentLiaison@elmorropta.org

2021-22 PTA President: Julie Warnsdorfer president@elmorropta.org