Question: Teachers excluded from meetings

I am a teacher. Recently, our PTO president said they would like to see more teachers participate in the PTO meetings. The meetings are held from 12:30 to 3:30 once a month. Our school day ends at 3:30. She has suggested that the teachers who want to give their input come to the PTO meetings on their lunch breaks to participate. I have suggested that the meetings be held after school to accommodate the teachers' schedule; she refused, however, stating that the parents on the board are too busy with their families to meet after school. Do you have any suggestions?

Asked by



Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Your PTO's meetings are three hours long? And teachers still want to attend them??

Elly wonders how the PTO's inflexibility might come across to parents who work during the day. It would be one thing if meetings were offered at two different times, and many groups do alternate both daytime and evening meetings for that reason. But your president is being just a little unreasonable to expect teachers to give up their lunch period to attend a PTO meeting. Elly has many teacher friends, and she knows their time during the school day is already quite limited.

Here are a few ideas to talk over with your PTO president:

  • Would it be possible to schedule a (shorter) meeting one morning before school, to summarize the points of the upcoming meeting and to get input from teachers?
  • Can she establish a teacher liaison position in which one member of her board contacts teachers before meetings to seek their input and ideas?
  • Can she establish "office hours" at home so that all teachers (and parents!) are able to contact her directly with questions or ideas pertaining to PTO events and activities?

Finally, if your PTO president is not willing to budge, it might help to ask the principal to intervene on your behalf. Principals are often quite skilled at finding happy mediums between parents and teachers.

Teachers help PTOs simply by taking some classroom time to distribute and collect flyers and by supporting events. Good things happen when the school's teachers, parents, and PTO leaders are all working in sync. It just might take a little time and patience before your president sees the light—and you just might be the shining beacon.

Community Advice

Bruce Sanford writes:
Is it the PTO president’s decision when the meetings are to be conducted? In our PTO, a vote of the general membership, not the president, dictates the starting times of our PTO meetings. Our PTO has two teachers as voting Board members, plus the principal as a non-voting member. PTO teams really do work better when they are allowed to work together as a team. A vote by the general membership of our PTO decided that the starting times of our meetings would be rotated every other month, one month at 8:30 a.m. and the next month at 7:00 p.m. We have two different crowds attending, the morning crowd and the evening crowd. We get a good cross-section of parents.

Advice from PTO Today

Rockne writes:
It certainly sounds like this president (from the way you describe things) is being fairly inflexible and unwelcoming. But this situation brings up another point for me -- sounds like this group is one (it's not uncommon) where meeting attendance is basically only way to have input or role. And that's a mistake for both teachers and parents and the group as a whole. There are all kids of reasons why noon on the 2nd Tuesday of the month might not work for someone. Same as 7PM on Wednesday or any specific meeting time. More than OK to have meetings, but if your group is one that basically requires meeting attendance for involvement, then you're shutting out tons of valuable people and needed help and sending a wrong message to the whole school community. Tim

Community Advice

angelsfan01 writes:
All of our PTA meetings are held in the evening - at 5:30p. This gives us time to get to the school after work, yet it is still early enough that those teachers/administrators that attend the meetings don't have to wait too long. Aside from daytime meetings, one thing that I've seen some groups do is to have really late meetings, however I think if we want non-parents to participate, we need to remember that a lot of those teachers don't necessarily leave in the area and it's difficult for them to go home, then come back. The dilemma in our area is when our District Council meets (not a fan of the PTA bureaucracy, but we have no choice in our school district!). The DC meetings are held in the mornings, once a month. It is supposed to be a meeting for all the presidents to attend and get information. Unfortunately, this ends up being a meeting where it is mostly administrators and schools' community liaisons with only a sprinkle of PTA presidents (we have 24 schools in the district). DC is still catering to the stay-at-home PTA parent instead of realizing that the majority of us have full time jobs. Even the DC President, who happens to work for the school district, has to take unpaid time off to attend her own meetings! Unfortunately, the DC Board will not budge and the meetings will never move to a more favorable time! Very frustrating when you are trying to run your local group!

Answer this question: