Treat Meetings Like A Class

8 Aug

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How you believe meetings and professional events could be more productive?  Can we perhaps share positive experiences and ideas about how we can make the most of meetings? As a school leader I spend I great deal of my time in meetings. Some this week have gone well. Others not so well. So here are some thoughts.

  1. Meetings need to be carefully planned and thoughtfully structured.  We would expect meetings certainly to have agendas, circulated in advance so that those present can prepare themselves, mentally and practically, for whatever is to be covered.  If you are responsible for compiling such an agenda, ask yourself: are your own items dominating, or have others had a fair and reasonable chance to contribute? Is the order of the items sensible, with the most crucial issues covered earlier on when the group is fresher, and the later items able to be deferred to another meeting if the timing does go askew?
  2. When planning a meeting or event, can you be clear at the outset what you want to achieve by the end?  What do you want those present to think about/be able to do as a result of being there?  How is that best achieved?
  3. It is worth considering how receptive and responsive you are as a meeting chair.  If you want real engagement and involvement there needs to be the opportunity for members of the meeting or the event to consider key questions, to reflect individually, in pairs or small groups and exchange views and opinions, perhaps to provoke and challenge each other, but in a professional, supportive and productive way which leads to development in our thinking.  Can you gather ideas from those assembled and use whatever is expressed in a constructive and helpful way, even if – in fact, especially if! – it is not what you hoped to hear?  It may not be appropriate for decisions to be taken in a meeting, but the discussion within the meeting, robustly recorded and subsequently carefully considered.
  4. Think about how much of your meeting time focusses on the operational rather than the strategic or developmental.  If the relatively low-level operational tends to dominate, consider scheduling in occasional strategic meetings with one-item agendas, perhaps led by different members of the group.  This could be an opportunity for all involved to give thought to, exchange views on and ideas about, something fundamental, something you can really get your teeth into, which will make a difference to how the team and the school operate, and the learners benefit.
  5. Use minutes/action points/recorded outcomes appropriately to ensure that what was considered and learnt is captured, remembered and used.  If those present can see that the gathering was productive, that their voices were listened to and that this led to something worthwhile, their contribution to future meetings and events is likely to be more committed and energised.

What do you think?

 

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