The summer months are ideal for educators to reflect, recharge and to begin planning for the next school year. I always try select one new idea, concept, tool, or program to explore during the first few months back. I have an idea that I would like to throw out to all administrators out there: rethink your meetings.
I recently saw a picture of a shirt with the following phrase: I just survived another meeting that could have been an email. This shirt needs to be mass-produced.
The dictionary defines a meeting as an assembly of people, especially the members of a society or committee, for discussion or entertainment. The Urban Dictionary defines a meeting as a period of time used to talk about the things (work) you should do if you were not in a meeting. Here is the tough reality. The presenters of a meeting usually agree that the first definition of the word meeting is correct. Everyone else in the room usually goes with the second.
As educators, we are constantly stating that we need to update our instructional practices and content delivery to best meet the diverse needs of learners. We often speak of the need for instructional technology, differentiation, dynamic delivery, and assessment and evaluation. However, all of that goes out the window when we meet with teacher teams and principals. Meetings tend to be several hours long with a myriad of non-related topics with different presenters dictating information or reading from power points. All of which could be sent in an email. This leaves the audience feeling micromanaged, frustrated, and bored. Steve Jobs once stated that people who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint. We would never approve of these methods being used in the classroom, yet we continue to allow them in our own meetings.
Here’s a concept for next year for everyone who plans school or district level meetings: Change up your meetings so that they are productive, informative and engaging.
TIP #1: Never have a meeting run more than an hour.
Research tells us that adults need to switch up activities every 5-20 minutes in order to stay engaged. This will give you at least four different topics to discuss during your meeting. Your audience will not be able to mentally digest anymore than this.
TIP #2: Turn your meetings into work sessions.
If you ask educators what they need more of, more often than not they will say time. Teachers need time to grade, plan, and analyze assessment data. Principals need time work on strategic plans, balance budgets, and analyze formative and summative assessments, among other tasks. Turning your meetings into work sessions to complete these essential tasks will benefit everyone. Plus, it will make everyone more productive, and more collaborative. It will also make them happier.
TIP #3: Try flipping your meeting.
The flipped classroom concept has been around for years. Teachers preparing content online and letting their students work on it at their own pace instead of needless lecturing has shown to be very effective. Why not run your meetings the same way? After all, educational leaders should be modeling research-based strategies. Bringing in instructional technology will create excitement and intrigue.
TIP #4: Cancel your meeting if it is not needed.
If you have nothing to meet about, please do everyone a favor and cancel the meeting. There is noting wrong with sending out information via email.
I wish you all luck on planning your meeting schedules for next year.
David Franklin, Ed.D.
Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.