Why school event planning is ripe for innovation

11 years ago, I began two very different careers. By day, I was a high school English teacher, employed at Northside College Prep, a magnet school serving gifted students in the Chicago Public School system. But when school was on break, I was also moonlighting as an SEO and content specialist for RSVPify. Like many other teachers (some might say a majority), I needed a side hustle to build a middle class life. Also like many other teachers, I was overstretching myself.

 

The unique position of working in education while also seeing up close the evolution of event software and its ability to deliver tangible benefits for a wide variety of users constantly had me shaking my head. Here I was, trying to run a debate team with dozens of motivated and ambitious students while struggling under a never-ending burden of logistical and financial constraints. I watched my colleagues do incredible things with their students, from robotics teams to Latin competitions, service clubs to international field trips, and yet we all shared the same frustrations many teachers feel as a daily part of their jobs:

Shared Frustrations

The inability to innovate and find convenient tech solutions to common school problems (especially as someone with a side gig in tech) drove me mad. And never was this more apparent than in knowing the extent to which event software, like that I knew intimately, could have made my life and that of thousands of overworked teachers, parents, and administrators that much easier. While event software can’t deliver instruction, provide lunch, administer restorative justice, or other core components of helping schools operate, it could be just the thing to improve school communities by helping with a foundational part of every school’s calendar – school events.

Why Defining School Events Isn't Easy

 Throughout the school year, administrators, teachers, parent groups, and students all constantly run into the painstaking process of organizing events for their community. Whether an elementary or high school, college or graduate program, staff event or PTA meeting, school events offer a unique set of event planning challenges. Consider for instance just some of the events that schools host during every new academic calendar year:

Events that Schools host_

As anyone who has worked in a school community knows, planning school events adds a significant workload on top of the everyday work of teaching, learning, or running a school and its programs. This often leads to school event planning processes that are “glued and taped” together. However, the reality is that by adopting a more organized and comprehensive school event planning process (often assisted by event software that can automate much of the busy work), schools can reduce much of this additional workload for faculty, staff, administrators, parents, and even student groups.

 

The stakes are often high when it comes to school events. Whether the event is designed to build connections between members of the community, train staff, provide social opportunities for the student body, or a hundred other purposes, school event planners often share some common stress points. Unlike many private events, school events often have more stringent requirements for protecting attendee data, security for the guest list, and more.

 

Because both the rewards and the challenges are so plentiful, being deliberate and organized when you plan a school event is essential. But how do overstretched school professionals have the time or energy to do this on top of teaching classes, grading, managing a building in the case of administrators, or running an involved parent organization?

The Unique Challenges of School Events

Unlike many other common event types, school events are governed by an intricate and complicated set of social and legal requirements that make school event planning particularly challenging. These include:

Social and Legal Requirements

These challenges often lead school event planners to simply “do what worked and change what didn’t work” from year to year. School communities are often resistant to innovation because of the lack of shared planning time and resources needed to invest in finding software, implementing new processes, and teaching the greater community about these changes. However, there are some compelling reasons to single out school event planning as an area that offers significant upside to modernizing, even at the most change-resistant school communities.

Benefits of Innovating School Event Planning

The modern post-COVID school environment has been widely cited as perhaps the most challenging period in modern American education. From staffing shortages to the role of AI in the classroom, political flashpoints to changing student behaviors, shifting curricula to rising challenges of mental health issues among student and staff alike, there is no shortage of concerns facing any school community and those who work within it.

This set of challenges might lead some to overlook something like changing how your school events are planned as less important or not worth focusing valuable time or resources. But the irony is that schools are largely powered by the events they host, both academically and culturally. Don’t believe it? Consider just a few of the ways that successful school events have extended impact beyond the event itself.

Fundraisers/Extracurricular Support

The Challenge: You would be hard pressed to find any school official, teacher, or parent rep who would tell you that they had everything they needed in terms of resources and funding for their community. The truth is, especially in the case of public schools, that the needs of a school community are always shifting and expanding. With those shifts come new needs for resources, technology, and staff that are added to already stretched budgets. With academics and requisite staffing always the key priority and destination for school funds, how do schools find the additional resources to support sports teams, clubs, field trips, new technology, and the other essential components that are often unnoticed by everyone but the teachers and students who actually populate a campus?

 

The Payoff: This reality has long been the reason for the cliche bake sales, 50/50 raffles, auctions, parent galas, and more that provide the lifeblood for a school to grow beyond the walls of an individual classroom. The challenges that face teachers, student groups, or parents with these activities is often getting the word out beyond an intercom announcement or email to school listservs. By instead using event software, school fundraisers gain access to powerful amplification tools like customizable event websites, online ticketing or payment processing, and communication tools. No more need to rely on lunchroom purchases alone to gain the money needed to fund equipment, trips, or more.

 

The Data: 

Social Events

The Challenge: Any teacher who has drawn the short straw and been put in charge of prom, Homecoming, or all-night graduation parties can tell you the amount of unnecessary stress and exhaustion involved. While school dances and social events are absolutely essential to building healthy school communities and providing students with a safe outlet for stress relief and socialization, the strain on school staff right now has made finding people willing to plan these school events harder than ever. How do you sell a teacher on committing their precious free time to planning a school event that might overburden than more than their daily teaching load?

 

The Payoff: Once again, event software can be the “teacher’s assistant” needed to offload much of the busywork needed to pull together events that involve an entire student body. From a website that gathers all important logistical and safety information, to email invitations, to back-end access for faculty and administrators to make sure the guestlist is private and no outsiders are welcome, event software removes many of the largest pain points that give these events a bad name in the teacher’s lounge. More importantly, the student body can have that big dance or college fair that helps keep them excited and motivated to come to school and engage in class.

 

The Data:

  • Numerous studies show that school-sponsored social events have significant impact on student emotional intelligence and mental health
  • Similarly, numerous academics have proven the positive results of students feelings of belonging in their school community – one of the main elements of school-wide social events.
  • A study conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) found that students who participate in community events are more likely to become active and engaged citizens as adults, contributing positively to their communities.

Parent Events

The Challenge: Depending on the individual school, parent involvement can run the spectrum for nearly ubiquitous (typically in high-income districts or private schools) to nearly non-existent (in districts with large numbers of single-parent or low-income households). Regardless of the district, involvement of parents has been proven time and time again to be a significant positive driver of student performance and success. However, organizing parent events that a significant portion of the school community can attend (like PTA meetings, Back to School nights, parent-teacher conferences etc) can be daunting.

 

The Payoff: Many parents share that their inability to participate more at their child’s school is not due to lack of interest, but logistical issues, childcare concerns, or the need to work evening shifts or multiple jobs during common school event meeting times. Event software offers a solution for administrators and teachers here in several respects. Aside from offering a more convenient communication or info-sharing platform (via an event website or automated emails), scheduling software can also allow parents and school staff to create more flexibility for engagement opportunities. The ability to embed video conferencing tools to create “hybrid” versions of these traditional events has made the ability to connect with a school outside traditional hours more possible than ever before. And even for parents who can’t attend events, event websites can serve as platforms for sharing key information, videos, resources, and more to ensure no parent is left out of the school happenings and workings.

 

The Data:

Staff Training Events

The Challenge: Professional development and staff training often get a particularly bad reputation among teachers and administrators alike. While everyone would agree that well-run and purposeful trainings are valuable for the continued improvement of a school community, the impact of ineffective training sessions is extensive. Frustration among participants over wasted time, confusion over registration for the most desired sessions, tracking of hours for state certification requirements, and ineffective communication can all contribute to unproductive trainings that can do as much harm as good.

 

The Payoff: By creating a hassle-free and logistically easy staff training session, participants can devote their full time and energy to critical content to grow as teachers, school staff, and administrators. Using event software to make scheduling clear and easy, sending automated email reminders to ensure logistics or session details are sent to everyone, and easily exporting participant information for reporting purposes can all be offloaded to event management software. Time for staff training and professional development is precious, and event software can maximize it for all involved.

 

The Data:

Using event software to improve school event planning

While many education professionals already know the importance of school events and the inherent challenges in organizing them, getting started on a major change in any element of school operations is daunting. Fortunately, employing event software to start streamlining school event planning and delivering better experiences for a school community doesn’t require the significant time or resource investment that you might think.

 

RSVPify offers a suite of event planning software tools that can be easily tailored to any school event, from the smallest club meeting to a full-school graduation ceremony. With a suite of features that are user-friendly and fully customizable, you can use RSVPify to start streamlining upcoming school events this month, quarter, or academic year.

 

Interested in learning more about using RSVPify for events at your school? Visit our School Event page for a breakdown of our various event management tools, or contact us to book a demo if you are looking for a comprehensive solution for a variety of events in your school or district.

 

Note on author: After 11 years of juggling work with RSVPify and teaching high school English and coaching the debate team, Adam Hausman has finally taken the plunge into event software full-time. The thoughts here are his own.

 

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