Saturday, June 2, 2012

Everybody loves meetings!

As a teacher, I was not a big fan of meetings. It wasn't because the information was irrelevant and not applicable to me and my students, but rather the delivery was less than meaningful and efficient in my opinion.

As an administrator, I am still not a big fan of meetings, and mainly for the same reason. As educators, our time is extremely valuable, and at last check, the demands upon us are not decreasing while time remains the same. It's time we as educators regain control of our time and do a much better job of using it to our advantage.

I am not interested in eliminating all meetings, but I am however interested in improving them. I honestly believe there can be great value gained as a result of well run meetings. My goal is to enhance the effectiveness of meetings while increasing participant involvement which will hopefully lead to an increase in productivty.

PD blog: At PBJHS we have a professional development blog. The structure and purpose of this blog evolved midyear last year as the vision of how it should/could be used changed. Everything that is shared on the blog will be archived and will remain accessible for all PBJHS staff members indefinitely. As it stands now, I would like the blog to serve two purposes:

1. Share information that is pertinent to staff members (our PD blog is set up so that each staff member has subscribed to it via their email, and as such they receive an email anytime there is a new post or updated information). This will include basic housekeeping issues as well as anything that would typically be sent out in an email or memo. I also try and share something positive or awesome that is going on at PBJHS with each new post.

2. Share professional development resources and thoughtful questions/videos/tweets that will encourage reflection. I want PBJHS's PD blog to challenge each and every staff member at PBJHS while encouraging them to question the status quo.

Faculty meetings: In most schools, there is a faculty meeting once a month. In my experience, most of these meetings serve to simply disseminate information while staff members just sit and listen. One person talks, while everybody else listens. This doesn't work well in classrooms with students, so why should we expect this to work with adults...?

Next year at PBJHS I would like to try the flipped method with our faculty meetings. The plan would be to provide staff members with something to read, watch, or think about in preparation for our faculty meeting. We would then use our time to collaborate, discuss, and reflect. It's also my hope to model different types of group work and collaboration methods that would then work in our classrooms with our students.

Department head / PLC meetings: Just like faculty meetings, most schools have some sort of leadership team meeting each and every month. I also feel comfortable saying that a majority of the leadership meetings are planned and led by the building principal.

I feel these meetings should not necessarily be planned just by the principal nor led just by the principal. Next year I plan to set up a Google Doc that will be shared with each member of our leadership team (we have 14 total members ranging from department heads to PLC experts, and each content area and department are represented). My plan is to have the leadership team set the agenda for each of our meetings by adding discussion topics and concerns to the Google Doc. If you added the topic to our agenda, it would be your responsibility to lead the discussion on that topic.

**At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, our leadership team set meeting norms and we committed ourselves to meeting for no longer than 1 hour, and if our discussion on any particular topic keeps going around in circles, we will table that topic and move on to something else. We have also decided to arrange ourselves in a circle (King Arthur style) so there is no one person at the head of the table to be the official "leader" of the meeting.

Obviously, each building and staff is different, but I am confident that we can improve the current model being used by simply adjusting our focus and utilizing our time more efficiently.

BONUS: Check out @leadershipfreak's great blog post titled, "8 ways to create great meetings."

What advice or suggestions do you have on how to effectively run and lead meetings in an educational setting?

**I would like to thank @stumpteacher, @azjd & @mrwejr for getting this conversation started and keeping it alive.