In my seventeen years in education as a teacher and administrator, I have taken part as a participant or a leader in hundreds or even thousands of meetings. As a principal, I would always really plan with participating teacher leaders any sort of staff development that was offered at my schools over the years. These staff development sessions would include pre-service week meetings and school based staff development days. But these staff development sessions were only a fraction of our time together. We would also spend a large amount of time in "meetings". For meetings, I would prepare an agenda, with letters on the side and if I was really organized, time allotments next to the items. Sometimes we would do a reading and have a great discussion in these meetings, but they still felt like meetings.
In the past three years, I have been very lucky be a part of my school's involvement with both Responsive Classroom and Expeditionary Learning. Every time I have ever taken part of any sort of staff development or meeting with folks from either of these organizations, the time together is as well planned as a master lesson from a strong teacher. In fact the meetings have a very powerful feel, time is well spent and purposeful. Everyone who attends is asked to participate and that participation is valued. I have learned greatly from this experience.
Learning only really happens if it causes new action of some sort. During these past years, I have planned some of my meetings, but this year I am committing to lesson planning every single meeting I lead and sharing my lesson plans ahead of time with the participants so I can get feedback. These lesson plans will include learning targets, both short term and long term, focused reading and structured discussions, and maybe most importantly they will lead to some sort of committed action. These are all strategies that we our teachers are working on so I need to do the same.
It is perhaps embarrassing to say that I am really coming to this in my tenth year as a principal. Already though, it has me more excited for our meetings and I think our teachers are more engaged.
I know I need to find more ways to use Assessment for Learning strategies in my meetings so that will be a goal of mine as the year goes. It is a motivating and empowering to realize that every time we meet should be well planned and thoughtful.
It also makes it hard when I attend meetings outside of my school that use the typical agenda outlines with times attached. But hopefully I can find ways to influence that as well as the year goes on.