Most of us have experienced—probably even facilitated—an ineffective staff meeting. You know what we’re talking about, right? Meetings where a small clique of teachers dominates the conversation, or one teacher delivers a tireless monologue to a room of glassy-eyed onlookers…
There are several reasons staff meetings morph into scenes like the one we mention above, but one of the most common complaints we hear is that they just aren’t productive. To help you beat common timewasters, we pulled a few tips from Sheila and John Eller’s book, Energizing Staff Meetings.
Start every staff meeting on time
Our teachers’ time is precious and nothing irks them like having to wait for their late colleagues to show up. Here are a few ways to address tardy arrivals:
- Running late happens on occasion, but when it becomes a habit, speak to the teacher in private
- If a significant number of the participants are coming to meetings late and holding up the starting time, consider changing the start time of your meetings
- Provide a reminder to get people to meetings on time; consider using music, announcements, or other methods to get people to the meetings
- Examine agendas to see whether the meetings contain items and activities of substance or whether they are dull; this may keep people away from the beginning of the meeting
Stick to the important stuff—and don’t ask for feedback on a decision that could be made by a leader or subgroup
- Review meeting agendas or minutes to make sure the topics presented really need to be shared in a meeting setting
- Examine agenda items to see whether they could be resolved more efficiently by task forces, subcommittees, decisions by leaders, etc.
- Look at agenda items to see what kind of action is needed. If they need group processing, bringing them to a group meeting is a good idea.
Solve, don’t complain
- Consider writing the type of action needed next to each agenda item to guide the group in its thinking and processing
- Set and follow group norms for effective meetings to prevent one group from taking over the agenda; be watchful of balanced participation in meetings and call on those who are not involved in the discussion to share their thoughts.
- Select a staff member to be the timekeeper to keep the group moving forward on its pre-established agenda
Be judicious about what you’re going to talk about and how much time you have
- Be honest in evaluating the amount of time needed to resolve agenda items; schedule fewer items that you think you can address during the time allotted for the meeting
- During the last five minutes of the meeting, talk with the group and evaluate your use of time during the meeting: Was this meeting productive? Why or why not? How can we improve in our next meeting?