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  • Writer's pictureJim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 11/13/17 - Think About What Your Meetings Teach

This week’s tip: Think About What Your Meetings Teach

You schedule group meetings most every day. Do you think about the intended and unintended things you communicate when you schedule a meeting? What do your actions tell attendees? Do you have a clear plan for the meeting before you invite people to attend?

Holding a meeting is tricky. People can quickly become restless and dissatisfied if there is not a clear purpose. If attendees are not directly involved, and have a voice in what is to be discussed, they can quickly become irritated and feel that their time was wasted.

When a SAM Team schedules a meeting they pick one of three descriptors:

1. Planning, Curriculum, Assessment

2. Decision Making Groups

3. Professional Development

A good SAM asks the leader which descriptor fits and who should be asked the attend. A great SAM asks the leader to identify what success looks like at the meeting and if a bit of Office Work/Prep might help prior.

Of course, communicating the purpose to the attendees is critical as is being on time and moving the agenda forward clearly and succinctly. Having meeting protocols definitely help. Listening more than talking, though, is the hardest part. Having a hard stop, a time the meeting will definitely end, helps keep people focused and forward thinking. A meeting the rambles irritates and frustrates people. A meeting with a clear focus, purpose and ending time gives hope.

Some SAM leaders ask an attendee to facilitate the conversation. This makes it easier for the leader to listen, observe and participate at a member of the group rather that directing the meeting.

A SAM principal in Georgia, Julia Daniely, has a daily meeting with her leadership team. She calls it a STANDING MEETING as attendees don’t take time to sit down—instead, they gather around a table and quickly discuss the key things they need to accomplish as a group that day— and then they go to make it happen.

Mayo Clinic conducts walking meetings. Each attendee wears a lanyard with a card entitled WALKING MEETING as the group strolls through the campus discussing the agenda items.

Participants in both standing and walking meetings generally report everyone is more focused, purposeful and, importantly, the sessions are shorter.

Your meetings as a school leader should model the kind of purpose and engagement you expect teachers to achieve in their classrooms. Isn’t a class session similar to a group meeting? Is it reasonable for your teachers to expect you to plan a session for them with the same care and purpose you expect them to provide their students in a lesson?

You teach a lot about what you value and believe by how you schedule and conduct a group meeting.

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