Are you tired of attending meetings that feel like a waste of time? You’re not alone. While this is true for all kinds of organizations, we have found this to be an especially relevant challenge in schools. In a fast-paced school environment there is a lot of need for coordination, in addition to school development projects. Meetings are scheduled and fill up our agenda in addition to all the other things going on.
But even the most well-intended meetings can sometimes lack purpose and leave attendees feeling disengaged and uninvolved. By taking a four simple steps, you can turn boring, ineffective faculty, division, department or team meetings into meaningful and productive experiences for everyone involved.
Every minute spent in an ineffective meeting is a missed opportunity to co-create impact for student learning. Here are research-based steps you can take to keep meetings as effective as possible:
- Clearly define the purpose and objectives of the meeting in advance, and only invite attendees who are directly relevant to the discussion. If you are invited to a meeting that does not directly impact your work, don’t hesitate to decline. You might feel more empowered to do so if you provide a short input beforehand or ask someone to update you afterwards if necessary.
- Set a strict time limit for the meeting and each agenda item – and stick to it (just like you would in a lesson). This is not only a sign of mutual respect to everyone involved but will also help ensure focus and efficiency. Getting people back on track will also minimize long monologues and foster participation.
- To ensure accountability for decisions and tasks, clearly define the next steps and schedule follow-ups. This will enable everyone to know their responsibilities and help maintain an overview over priorities.
- Include regular feedback sessions after the meeting to ensure that future meetings continue to become more meaningful for everyone involved. This can, for example, be done with a short survey, where each participant can rate how helpful, clarifying or impactful they perceived the meeting. This also gives quieter attendees the opportunity to make suggestions for the future.
Channel your full energy into student learning and wellbeing
Overall, meetings in schools are important to provide a forum for teachers, staff, and administrators to exchange ideas, discuss and make important decisions to move the school forward. Effective meetings can help to foster a sense of open teamwork and collaboration within the school community, which are crucial to improving the overall learning experience for students. By following the steps above, you will find yourself in a meeting, where you will leave feeling productive and like you've made real progress towards improving the school for your students because:
- the agenda is clear and all items are relevant
- the discussion is focused
- decisions are being made effectively and responsibly
- everyone is fully engaged
In the first place, meetings should never be held unintentionally. Minimizing the meeting overload to make room for intentional and purposeful meetings is the first (and most important) step. Even research shows that scheduling fewer meetings is directly linked to more productivity and more room for deep work. Meetings definitely ensure information flow, effective decisions, accountability and participation – however, only when planned and executed carefully.
Below, there are some more resources to improve meeting effectiveness. Even though they are directed at the business world, schools can benefit from this research. All types of organizations, including schools, need to manage resources, set priorities, and may need to adapt to changes in their environments to safeguard their successes. Schools and businesses also may have similar challenges when it comes to meeting the needs and expectations of their stakeholders, such as students, parents, teachers, or trustees, governors, or owners. Ultimately, both schools and businesses are organizations strive to achieve their goals and make a positive impact in their respective fields.
How can educators collaborate more effectively?
- Klein, Joseph (2005). Effectiveness of school staff meetings: implications for teacher‐training and conduct of meetings. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 28(1), 67–81. doi:10.1080/01406720500036778