All right, raise your hands, how many of you think meetings are useless? I have come to the realization that there are two types of people in the word: those who love meetings and those who hate them. I can see having meetings on a regular basis to explain new policies, safety concerns or get staff input on big issues. Most of the time teachers would just like to have some protection from all these other issues that are outside of the classroom and spend some valuable time creating curriculum, collaborating with peers and getting some fresh ideas for problem solving.
How can we create useful meetings? Here are 5 strategies that I would like to recommend:
1 Control the agenda! Don’t let anyone hijack the agenda, people love to distract, deflect and generally avoid getting to the tricky part which is embracing change and making something happen. Have a focus and stick to it. Every staff has members who love things just the way they are and are stumbling blocks to meaningful improvements.
2 Don’t let anyone control the dialogue. There is always one person who speaks too much; a meeting killer and cop-out for the rest of us. It is the facilitator’s job, to acknowledge the person has ideas but we now we want to hear from other people with differing points of view.
3. Seriously consider: does everyone need to be there to sit and listen? Is there a way to break into smaller groups, have a focused task and reconvene and share out? Doing is the key. Don’t speak at the crowd instead; expect the crowd to speak to each other to solve a problem or create change.
4. Don’t feel like you have to fill empty air time. Silence is often very powerful! Just like in the classroom, give people the time they need to think and learn. Silence does not mean nothing is happening often reflection is what is needed, your quietest staff members wait to speak after silence. The introverts will come out!
Don’t call a meeting just for the sake of calling a meeting it is okay to cancel it of nothing needs to be accomplished.There is nothing worse than wasting time at a meeting where there is nothing to get done. As teachers we are always thinking, “This is what I could be doing instead of sitting here..”
What ideas do you have to make meetings more useful?