I attend lots of meetings. Most of them waste my time. I sit through animated discussions about the sorts of shoes students should be allowed to wear, about administrative procedures, and about things that don’t involve or affect me. Most of the time I listen to someone else talking.
On our staff days I no longer use the word ‘meeting’, instead calling it staff learning time.
Stephen Harris has blogged about the high cost of meetings.
Many find it incredibly difficult to move beyond the top-down agenda to run a meeting. I believe that every time we think it is important enough for educators to come together, we should be coming together to learn, and our time together needs to be clearly designed for this.
Effective methods I have found to achieve this include:
The use of protocols
The use of thinking routines
Unconference approaches like TeachMeets
I also like walking meetings. Everytime I host a guest at our school we walk around the school and talk as we are going.
There are some simple things to look for to determine the effectiveness of team learning time. How many people speak? Who dominates? Who doesn’t speak? Who leads the conversation? Does this change? What is being discussed? What sort of questions are asked and what happens to these questions? How are students discussed? What artefacts are produced?
Sometimes I will attend subject department ‘meetings’ and take a transcript of the meeting, which I use for a later coaching conversation with the Head of Department.
I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas to improve team learning time.