I recently came across an interesting quote from humorist and author Dave Barry, “Meetings are places where dead ideas rise from their graves and eat the brains of the living.” I was struck by how accurate this really is. Intrigued, I looked up the definition of a meeting and found that the Urban Dictionary defines it as “as a period of time used to talk about the things (work) you should do if you were not in a meeting.”
As educators, our constant focus is on enhancing our teaching methods and delivering content in a way that engages and addresses the unique requirements of our diverse learners on campus. We actively seek out opportunities to incorporate the latest technology, differentiation strategies, and evaluation and assessment tools to keep education fresh, relevant and robust. However, when it comes to faculty and staff meetings, we often find ourselves simply delivering content while the audience passively listens and receives information through PowerPoint presentations.
This school year, let’s revitalize our meetings. Instead of sticking to the same old routine, let’s make our meetings interactive, productive, engaging, and informative.
1. “Flip” the meeting
The concept of the flipped classroom has been implemented for a considerable period of time. So, why not apply a similar approach to meetings? Alongside a traditional agenda, it would be beneficial to provide pre-meeting information regarding the central topic that the team will be exploring or discussing. Teachers should be encouraged to come prepared with their thoughts, data, or pertinent information related to the subject matter.
This proactive involvement will transform teachers into active participants, contributing to potential solutions or adding value to the conversation, rather than passively absorbing information. Just as we recognize that students who engage with content in meaningful ways retain more knowledge, the same principle holds true for individuals actively involved in meetings.
2. Keep it “short and sweet”
It’s important to limit meetings, particularly those held after school, to a maximum of one hour. Nowadays, attention spans are diminishing, even among adults. Research suggests that the average audience attention span is only 8 to 10 minutes. Additionally, adults require frequent changes in activities every 5 to 20 minutes. You’ve got a challenge on your hands! Ensure that your agenda is concise and adhere to it strictly. Avoid unnecessarily prolonging the meeting merely to meet the one-hour mark. Focus on addressing the necessary topics and promptly conclude the meeting.
3. Cancel it
If you truly don’t have anything to meet about, it is best to save everyone’s time and simply cancel the meeting. Instead, send a concise email containing any necessary information. The teachers and staff will be grateful for the additional time to focus on their extensive to-do lists. Your consideration will be greatly appreciated by all parties involved, including yourself.
4. Have a work session
In our fast-paced lives, it’s no secret that we could all use a little more time to tackle our ever-growing to-do lists. That’s where the power of collaboration and mutual support comes into play. Setting aside dedicated meeting time presents an ideal opportunity for individuals to accomplish tasks while benefiting from the collective wisdom of their peers. By participating in scheduled meetings, you not only make progress on your own objectives but also gain valuable insights into the latest happenings within your campus teams. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Collaboration plays a crucial role in fostering positive relationships among teachers, while also providing the essential emotional support they require to thrive in their roles. While teams on your campus already engage in PLC and planning meetings, the opportunity for cross-campus collaboration is limited.
To address this, consider incorporating a new approach by dividing teachers into smaller groups of 4 to 6 individuals during one of these meetings. The formation of these groups can be either random or a mix of subject areas and grade levels. Within each group, roles such as timekeeper, recorder, discussion leader, and report can be assigned. The group can either be given a specific topic to discuss, encouraged to share a teaching success, or seek assistance from the group on a particular matter. At the conclusion of the meeting, each group will share the key highlights of their discussions.
These collaborative sessions not only offer benefits to the participating teachers but also contribute to the collective mindset of the campus and ultimately enhance student success.
These are just a few effective strategies to transform your campus meetings from “brain eating” to inspiring opportunities for growth and positive experiences for everyone on your campus.
Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.