From Meetings to Learning

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
Gallery walks
Design thinking
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.

2 thoughts on “From Meetings to Learning

  1. Afternoon Cameron.
    I’ve been a fan of Dr Ken Hudson’s work – first through his newsletters, blog and more recently BlitzPro app. His framework’s can be used to streamline group problem solving, focus and prioritize idea generation and decision making. Might be tailored to bring more to meetings and processes grounded in the ‘way we’ve always done it’ thinking.
    Happy rest of weekending.

  2. I just wanted to say I’m on board with weekly staff meetings being called professional learning time. We start with a 20 minute admin time which I as principal don’t run nor control the agenda. It’s run by teachers for teachers – high symbolism here. My AP puts out a daily bulletins with all the administrative stuff on. Then it’s over to me as the lead learner using protocols and norms to run a professional learning time with no more than 3 items for the next 70 minutes. I say run as I initially needed to model presentation processes before enabling others to run sessions. It’s been 2 years now and the feedback I receive now at the end of every “meeting” is less about process and more about content.
    So loved your post.

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