Hybrid PTA Meetings Are a Giant Step Forward

by California State PTA Leadership Services Commission

PTAs learned a few things during the pandemic. Teleconferencing and video-conference meetings are now utilized by PTAs frequently.  Three years ago the term “hybrid meeting” was pretty much unknown and now it’s become more commonplace. There are questions and best practices, so leader guidance continues to evolve as we all gain experience. 

PTA bylaws now allow teleconferencing (video and/or audio conference meetings), as long as all members are able to hear each other, debate and vote. Teleconferencing allows members to cast their votes themselves. PTA bylaws allow teleconferencing (as long as it is not crossed out) but they do not allow proxy votes or email voting.  During the conference meeting, you can use an electronic voting tool or a google form to collect ballots. The normal rules of holding a meeting still apply to teleconferenced meetings. Attendees should be able to debate and vote and should be treated and treat others with respect and courtesy.

HOW ONE PTA USES HYBRID MEETINGSAn elementary PTA in the San Francisco Bay Area schedules its association meetings right after school lets out on Wednesdays. The outdoor in-person location is at the school’s lunch tables under the solar panels where parents can easily observe their children on the playground. Members can and do also attend virtually. Timely advance notices are sent out repeatedly using social media platforms. A funny video clip from the president is anticipated and typically included in the final media push. It all works for this PTA! 

Here are tips for both setting up, and using conferencing technologies for your meetings whether you have just a few members attending remotely or everyone is. As with every tool, practice is essential. 

Getting Started

  • Find a platform/app for hosting the meeting and set up an account. (Zoom and Google Meet are two popular examples.) The platform should be available and accessible to everyone.
  • Hybrid meetings may require everyone to use a phone or computer with headsets to avoid feedback. 
  • Schedule a practice meeting with your executive board before having one with your general association.

Before the Meeting

  • Establish the ground rules for the teleconferencing, video-conferencing, or hybrid meeting.
  • Prepare the agenda, financial reports, minutes from the last association meeting. Ensure that reports, minutes and agenda are provided to everyone.
  •  As always, provide at least 10 days notice of the meeting. Use a registration link to establish a list of potential attendees. Email the reports, agenda and ground rules for the meeting to the verified members who indicate they will be on the call.
  • Update the membership list and provide the secretary with a copy.
  • Identify an officer to assist with maintaining a speaker list to assist the chair.

During the Meeting

  • Conduct the meeting as you normally would. (Record the time the meeting begins and is adjourned in the minutes.)
  • Set the call ground rules and verify every participant can hear and be heard.
  • Remind people to “mute” themselves to reduce outside noise (and avoid feedback if the meeting has attendees both together in a room and virtually).
  • Establish the quorum 
  • Ask someone to monitor the chat and help count votes (often this is a parliamentarian) 

Meeting Notice

  • Email your membership list directly, announcing the meeting and agenda.
  • Use social media platforms and website to announce meeting details and include a registration link.
  • Ask your principal to post the meeting notice on the school website and social media platforms.
  • Encourage board members and members to share meeting information on their personal pages. 

Interpretation Tips for Hybrid Meetings

It is very important to make sure all members of your school community feel included. Determine if the conferencing tool has an interpretation option and pre-test it. Reach out to see if someone from the school, community or council PTA can assist with translation. The translator(s) should be on the actual call, translating in real time. Prior to the meeting, make sure the translator is familiar with the agenda and discuss how the translation process will work during the call.

Resources for Local PTAs

Click here for instructions on how to make a Google ballot form, which is helpful for voting during hybrid meetings.