Meetings … Too Many? Too Few? Just Right?

CC Photo Credit

CC Photo Credit

Simply put, schools are busy places.  Busy in a good way.  There has always been a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement in the schools where I have worked.  There are team meetings, parent meetings, faculty meetings, district meetings, co-curricular, extra-curricular, and cross-curricular meetings.  Outstanding schools, like exceptional educators, are collaborative in nature.  They are places filled with people working together to foster student learning.  It is impossible to collaborate alone.  You need  to meet.  I like meetings; I always have.  Professionally, I  look forward to the opportunity to spend time with so many outstanding colleagues.

However, schools are busy places, filled with busy people.  Time is a precious commodity and a limited resource.  So meetings need to be purposeful and efficient.  It is crucial to make the most of the time you have.  My wife and a number of colleagues just returned from an Adaptive Schools training at NESA 2013. They are excited to apply the great things they learned from Bob Garmston and company.  I am excited because I find that structured collaboration, organized agendas, common agreements, and the use of protocols, to be essential elements of successful collaboration.  It’s also nice to see others sharing a common belief.  When meeting, my colleagues and I try not to waste meeting time by following through on nuts and bolts, sharing information, and managing the logistics of teaching, to a minimum. We prefer to get these tasks done by email so that our meeting times are focused on what we teach, how we teach, and how we meet the individual needs of our learners.

Is there a “right” amount of meetings?  I don’t believe there is a quantifiable response.  I see it as just the right mix of meetings that keeps a school moving forward in a culture of positivity.  Too few meetings can drain a school’s energy and enthusiasm for continual improvement  as quickly as too many meetings.  Whether it is a formal or informal meeting, I think people should leave with a sense of excitement or enthusiasm.  Finding the right mix of purposeful and efficient meetings is a great starting point.

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