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Streamlining Meetings and Committees

Leadership Teams need to work together to manage meetings and committees that work for the benefit of students in a productive and professional manner. I worked at a school that had the following posted in the faculty bathroom…

beatings-morale-graph“The beatings will continue until the morale improves.” 

Streamlining meetings is an important step in creating a positive staff morale. While many of us chuckle and others say it hits close to home, there are ways to streamline meetings and committees to help work get done in a way that is productive and professional, but most of all timely and respectful. First of all, select a day to hold meetings after school. I like Tuesdays, because it is early in the week and I like to honor those teachers who have Wednesday evening commitments with their churches. Streamlining school staff meetings helps teachers plan their week for other types of after school functions as well as give them an opportunity to balance work and home life.

This is an example of our school’s Tuesday meeting schedule:

                 First Tuesday of the Month:         Faculty Meetings (all staff are required to attend)

                 Second Tuesday of the Month:    School Improvement Team (representatives dually represent as our                                                                                                                                         Leadership Team) – Selected Staff

                Third Tuesday of the Month:        Committee Meetings (I will discuss this more below.)

                Fourth Tuesday of the Month:      Intervention Team (they review student cases before referral to our                                                                                                                                         Execptional Children’s department) Selected Staff

We always plan to meet 1.5 hours never more. If we dont get to everything we table it for the next month. One colleague recommended we do something each week called “First Fifteen” and all staff gathered for the first fifteen minutes for quick weekly reminders, shout outs, celebrations, etc. This worked well and was a great idea that helped everyone stay “in the know”!

All staff were required to stay on the first and third Tuesday of the month while selected staff may have to stay on the second and fourth as needed or required. The third Tuesday of the month was set aside for our Committee Meetings and all staff were required to serve on one committee except for our first year teachers. They had district wide first year teacher meetings to attend monthly and school board policy allows them a reprieve from serving on committees their first year.

We divided our committees up into four categories: Academic, Behavior, Climate and Data. The idea was based on Single School Culture (Palm Beach, Florida) which is a way of organizing a school. Each of the BIG FOUR committees had specific reponsibilities and often included subcommittees. But all staff served on one of the BIG FOUR committees. There will be some staff that want to serve on more and this certainly depends on the size of your school. But allowing your staff to focus on one thing helps that “thing” get done right. Also this also helps distribute the leadership opportunities for everyone. With a growing trend of teacher evaluation being partially dependent on teacher leadership, one area of focus really helps teachers show evidence and provide artifacts to support their work in that area.

HOW TO:

On the first meeting day of the year for teachers and staff, take four big pieces of bulletin board paper and make a heading at the top to reflect the BIG FOUR. Facilitate a discussion to determine what subcommittees, activities, and events should go under each heading. Allow your teachers and staff to be active participants in the process, this will help with ownership of the process and sustainability of school committees throughout the school year. Have a scribe for each “area” write the determined activities, etc. on each of the BIG FOUR banners.

Next, determine the percentage of activities that are listed for each area. You will likely have the most activities under the ACADEMIC committee. You are a school so this makes complete sense! Write the percentage at the top of the “banner”. This percentage should help guide the staff to determine the percentage of staff that need to be represented under that committee.

Have teachers and staff move to the committee banner which they want to work on for the school year. Again, allowing choice for your staff and teachers (just like students) helps them buy in to the process and success of their committees. Determine if the percent of teachers represented is close to the percent of activities listed in each area. If not ask for volunteers that are willing to shuffle.

zoomTaking time for this process helps teachers and staff SEE the big picture. It helps define what committees will be responsible for, what activities are important to the school, and what to expect for the upcoming school year. After committees are determined share the wordless book ZOOM. This book really helps break the ice and gets teachers and staff to understand the BIG PICTURE of the system of your school.  Understanding the whole enables us to see interrelationships and patterns of change, as opposed to snapshots of situations. It helps us to determine cause and effect, an important point because it’s never influenced in just one direction. In a true learning organization helping faciltate understanding of the value of interrelationships helps everyone make connections and see the “forest and the trees”.

After committees and activites have been determined, a list of each of the BIG FOUR committees and subcommittees and activities should be listed with committee members and included as an insert in the TEACHER/STAFF handbook for your school. This will make a great go to resource throughout the school year for your staff.

Note: Let your teachers and staff know that while this attempt to streamline commitees and meetings does not mean that there won’t be other times they will need to  meet or gather throughout the school year. There will be PTA, festivals, and skate nights, Pizza nights and more! But this will help streamline teachers schedules and let teachers know that their time is important and valuable to you.

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