It’s that time of year again! (You know, back to school faculty meeting time!)
As someone who loves Edcamp, I hate (really, really hate) top-down, didactic meetings. In many ways, it’s a waste of time. If you're just going to tell me what to do (without my input), save us both a lot of grief and write me an explicit memo or email.
With that being said, I love (really, really love) collaborative meetings where everyone’s ideas are honored and shared. However, running a collaborative meeting can be risky (whether your audience is adults or kids).
If you’re in the process of planning a faculty meeting, consider the following tips (taken from a recent meeting I observed in a fantastic school in New Haven, CT) to make your meeting more collaborative.
- Give people an agenda with specific times and goals relative to each component of the meeting. Setting these expectations helps people to understand how and when they can best contribute. It helps people understand why they are there and values their time.
- Put the school/department/classroom mission on the top of the paper. Use it as a tool to steer conversation in positive directions when it gets off track.
- Have people self select specific roles to make the meeting run more smoothly. For example, have people volunteer to be timekeepers, note takers, or prodders. (Prodder is my favorite role. That person should ask provocative questions or keep conversation moving forward when it’s stuck.)
- Design the space and the size of the meeting to allow for extended dialogue. Groups shouldn’t be too large and the furniture should allow for people to have eye contact with comfort.
- Use language that honors and values people throughout the meeting. Shut down dialogue that is disrespectful to students or colleagues. Consider the following statements I overheard in my meeting at New Haven:
“Nobody is ever done growing.”
“The point of this meeting is not to start over. It’s to build on what’s already been done.”
Good luck, and I hope your school year gets off to a good start!