Are you a Reflections chairperson for your PTA unit? Thank you for helping us bring this opportunity to the students of Livonia Public Schools! We couldn’t do it without you! Now, let’s talk about what it means to be a unit chair.
What Is Your Role?
Each school that wants to participate in Reflections should have at least one chairperson to coordinate efforts at your school. At a high level, your responsibilities include promoting the program, helping the students understand the rules, collecting their completed projects, turning those in to the council chairperson, and helping with the district Reflections celebration. Let’s look at each of these tasks in more depth.
Deciding Which Categories Your School Will Offer
Your school can offer any combination of the categories that you would like. If you want to give them the full range of categories to maximize their possibility of participation, then you can offer all six. But if your school is still new to Reflections and you want to keep it simple, or if you have a teacher who is willing to help with one category, then you can limit it to whichever categories make sense for your school. Just make sure to communicate it clearly to your school, if you’re not offering all six.
Making Sure Your Unit Is In Good Standing
In order for your students to participate in Reflections, your PTA unit must be in good standing with the Michigan PTA. That means your dues and insurance must be up-to-date, and you must have approved bylaws with the state.*
* Because of the backlog of bylaws that haven’t been approved by the state, they are giving us an exception this year. If you submitted your bylaws to the state by July 2018 and they have not processed and approved them yet, they are waiving the requirement for Reflections to have state-approved bylaws.
Registering Your Unit
We have until February to enroll our units in the Reflections system, but it’s a good idea to knock this easy task off our to-do lists sooner than later, so we don’t forget. To enroll, go to PTA.org/Reflections and click on the purple button that says, “Enroll Your PTA.” There are a few mostly self-explanatory fields to fill in. One of them is a field for your 8-digit ID. If you don’t have that number handy, then you can use the look-up tool. You enter the city and state and it gives you a list of PTAs to choose from. Most of the Livonia schools are there. You’ll also need to know how many students are at your school (less than 500, 500-999, or 1000+) and whether it’s a Title 1 school or not.
Preparing the School-Specific Student Packet
The basic student packet is downloadable on the main Reflections page of this website. There are places on it for you to customize some of the fields, though. It will be less work for you later, if you can pre-fill those fields before you send out the student packet. Once you fill in those fields, send your version to the council chairperson to be included on the Reflections page for your students to download.
What you should fill in:
- On page 1, the highlighted yellow fields for the name of who they should turn their projects in to and when as well as the date of the district celebration.
- On page 3 (the entry form), fill in the top gray box.
- Local PTA = Your school’s PTA unit (for example, Franklin PTSA or Cleveland PTA)
- Local PTA ID = A number you can get from the Reflections system when you register your unit
- Local Program Chair/Email/Phone = Your name and contact info
- Council PTA/District PTA/Region PTA = Livonia PTSA
- State PTA = Michigan
- Member Dues Paid Date/Insurance Paid Date/Bylaws Approval Date = Dates you can obtain from your unit’s treasurer
Promoting Reflections at Your School
Use whichever methods of communication make sense to spread the word to your students about Reflections. Some options you could consider:
- Speak about it at your PTA/PTSA meeting
- Send an email to all families
- Have a poster or flyer out at your open house/curriculum night or other fall activities
- Post about it on your school and PTA Facebook page/group
- Make an announcement during your school’s morning announcements
- Send a flyer home
- Send a flyer home in your school’s e-mail newsletter
- Hang a poster on a wall or bulletin board in your school, like this one: Reflections poster for schools
- Talk to the teachers at your school to see if you can give a brief speech in their class (Bonus points if they decide to help you engage their kids in the process!)
Helping Students Understand the Rules
You probably already know that there is a LOT of documentation about Reflections. There are lots of rules to keep track of, and that can be intimidating to students and their parents (and to you). Part of your role is to get to know the rules and help your students and sometimes their parents understand those rules.
Make sure you read all of the documentation available to you, including:
- Reflections Rules Flyer (which is a Livonia PTSA document, incorporating national, state, and council rules)
- Student Packet
- Local Leader’s Guide
- Judge’s Packet (not because you need to hold any judging at your school, but because it will help you understand how the students’ projects will be judged)
- Michigan Specific Rules
Additional resources for information include:
- National PTA Reflections Page
- Michigan PTA Reflections Page **
- Michigan PTA Reflections Network Facebook Group
- Livonia PTSA Council Reflections Program Facebook Page
** Due to challenges with getting the state PTA page updated, the state Reflections chairs have said that for now, they will be using their Facebook group to share updated information. For now, their Reflections web page is mostly content from past years.
Collecting the Projects and Entry Forms
The students at your school who create Reflections projects will need to turn their projects in to you. Their deadline for turning them in to you is Wednesday, November 14, 2018. You can set up whatever process works for you. They can send them in to the office wherever your PTA mailbox is. You could set up a box in the office or hallway for them to place them in. You could set up a date and time when they can bring the projects directly to you. Whatever works for you.
You’ll need to look at their projects and entry forms and make sure they have followed all the rules, and completed the form correctly. Make sure all of the fields are filled out, and make sure they have written their artist statement, since that is included in the judging.
Turning in the Projects and Entry Forms to Council Chair
Once you have received all of the students’ projects, you need to prepare them to be turned in to the council chair. Your deadline for handing off the projects to the council chair is Wednesday, November 21, 2018.
Our judging at the district level will be done with the electronic versions of the projects. So for most categories, you will need to turn in a physical version of the project and the digital version. We will use Google Drive for transferring the digital files. Watch for more details on that process, closer to our deadline.
Before you turn in the actual projects, you will need to do a little work to prepare them for display at our district celebration. There will be a few changes to our process compared to last year, but we haven’t finalized the process yet. Stay tuned.
When you hand over the projects, you will also need to provide a list of all of your projects. Again, the details of this process will be shared once we finalize them.
Entering Your Students’ Projects in the National Database
Each project that is advancing to the state level judging needs to be entered into the national Reflections database, which is a system you’ll sometimes see called the Student Entry Portal, or sometimes called Fluid Review.
In the past few years, we have had the unit chairs partially enter all projects before handing them over in November. This year we are trying a new process. Once the judging is complete, we will announce the winners, and then the unit chairs will have until January 11th to submit the winners in the database. This is a firm deadline. Any projects that aren’t entered by that deadline will not be considered for state-level judging. The council chair will work with the unit chairs to make sure that all projects are entered on time, but the unit chair is responsible for completing this task on time.
We will provide more detailed instructions as the time draws nearer.
Setting Up at District Celebration
At the district celebration on January 15th, we will have a gallery viewing of all the projects submitted by Livonia students. We are holding the event at the Franklin High School Performing Arts Center. The art gallery will be set up in the lobby of the PAC. We would like the unit chairs to come help with set-up for the event – especially with the hanging of the projects from your school. We’ll have access to the building at 3:30 and will need all hands on deck for a couple hours to get it all ready. If you’re unable to be there at 3:30, we understand. But if your school had a lot of entries, please consider lining up another volunteer to help in your place.
We will have a sign-up genius closer to the time of the celebration, and will have a set-up plan to keep things organized. Stay tuned for those details.
Acting as a Liaison
Part of your role as unit chair is to act as a liaison between your students/families and the council chair. If they have questions you can’t answer, you can ask the the council chair on their behalf. And when the council chair has information that needs to be shared with your students, she will sometimes ask you to pass it on to your students/families. Especially as we are finalizing plans for the district celebration and the state celebration in May.
50th Anniversary of Reflections
This year is the 50th anniversary of Reflections! As you promote the program this year, feel free to make that part of your message. We are planning a little something extra for our district celebration to mark the anniversary. More details to follow, once we have everything lined up.
We are also setting a goal for increased participation in this 50th year. We would like to set a goal of having 50% more students participate in the district this year, compared to last year. We’re thinking BIG! Can we do it? With your help, we can!
Don’t Let These Gotchas Getcha!
There are a few rules that we want to draw special attention to, so that you can help your students avoid disqualification.
- No Copyrighted Materials – Use of copyrighted material is prohibited, except for background music in dance choreography and film production entries. With this year’s theme about heroes, this is very important. It means your students can’t include any of the superhero characters that someone else has created. Characters like Superman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman are copyrighted, so they may not include them or their logos in their projects.
- Musical Notation – Students in the Middle School (grades 6-8) and High School (grades 9-12) divisions who enter a project in the music composition category must provide musical notation of their composition. That means they have to write the notes on the staff, in addition to providing the recording of it. If your student does not read music, they can use an app to help them create the score. They may not have someone else write it for them. If you are a unit chair for an upper elementary, middle, or high school, this rule applies to you. Please make sure your students know about this rule.
- 3D Visual Arts Projects – If a project wins at the state level, it advances to the national level of judging. Those projects need to be sent to the national office. Because of this, we have set a size limit for 3D visual arts projects of 12″ x 12″ x 12″. In addition to the size requirement, students also need to make sure that their project is stable enough that it can survive the shipping process. And it cannot require any assembly on the other end by the recipient. Please make sure your students understand the need to avoid making anything too large or too fragile.
If you have any questions about your role, please contact council chair, Debbie Yates, at email@example.com.