For many of us, snow did this to us—pushing end-of-the-school-year proceedings until mid to late June. We’ll probably be brought back in a few times in July, at which point it’ll be time to get our 2014-2015 rosters for a new school year. That makes right now a delicate time.
Here are some tips that as a teacher you can use to–well, these probably won’t help you. You just do what you’re told. As an administrator? Well, you’ve probably got an itinerary and you can’t deviate from it. District official? Your hands are probably tied to. Hmmm. Maybe admins-to-be who have some flexibility in how you design end of the year staff meetings? There we go.
For all 3 of you, here are some ideas.
Do Less of This…
1. Keep them any longer than you have to.
School staff meeting until 6:30 p.m.? Why? To make the school year even more grueling? That’ll do it.
2. Tell them everything they need to do, but then give them no time to do it.
Yes, this is how it’s always been done. But don’t wonder why building turnover–or teacher burnout in general–is so high.
3. Show a bunch of bar graphs and empty statistics.
Instead, focus on stories, design, and decision making.
This student was finally able to do ____, and it impacted his life by ______.
We have designed checks here, here, and here to enable this.
We solicited feedback in these forms, considered these perspectives, and decided to go with this technology.
4. Ask staff to do anything creative.
They’re tired. Unless you want mediocrity, maybe it can wait?
5. Single out “great teachers.”
This sounds good on paper. Good teaching should be celebrated. The fact of the matter is, the best teachers either know they’re good, or are happy to have their skills celebrated in 1-1 meetings.
Further, the “great teachers” are also often the most tenured, more charismatic, or most popular teachers rather than the out-and-out best. The get the accolades, best students, key committee positions, benefit of the doubt, and so in an endless circle of self-fulfilling prophecy.
It can also jade the “merely decent” teachers, which can hurts worse than celebrating the great ones helps.
6. Warn them of the impending trials that will challenge them next year like never before.
Nothing is more inspirational at the end of a long year than telling teachers how much worse next year will be!
7. Force staff to watch inspirational videos.
Instead, ask them to find their own and share them in their own networks.
Instead, do more of this…
1. Focus on the people, not the positions.
The meeting agenda may break down as 12th grade team meeting with 11th grade team, or English Department developing an Assessment Committee, but try as much as possible to humanize the proceedings. Lianne is going to work with Duane and Sean to take a look at our assessment calendar, while Seth, Andrea, and Kim work together to troubleshoot our attendance policy.
2. Let staff tell their personal stories.
If you have a certain number of mandated hours you all have to breathe together in the same room, humanize the process. Let them tell their own stories—of their classrooms, students, curriculum, or even their own personal lives.
And make it easy for them.
3. Focus on teaching and learning.
Schools are complicated places full of a lot of “stuff” that has nothing to do with teaching or learning. This means it necessarily comes up from time to time. But minimize it as much as possible. “Housekeeping” items like dates, room changes, new hires, etc., can often be communicated via technology.
Focus on the craft of teaching. If you make it sound industrious, it will look and feel industrious. Set a different tone in this meeting.
4. Stick to a small handful of ideas.
Lest their cups runneth over no matter how much you have to “cover.”
5. Let them brag about one another.
They may not want to brag about themselves, but they often will about the teacher next to them.
6. Promote their capacity.
All meetings, trainings, and development would, ideally, train and develop, yes? Improve capacity. Not tick a box, sign an attendance sheet, and get a worthless “certificate” in the mail and a jolly rancher with a “You’re the best!” note taped to it.
Instead, do something that initiates a process that will continue after the meeting is over. Connect people to networks. Show them what’s possible. Light a fire.
7. Give them time to collaborate
And don’t ruin it with a bunch of rules and regulations.
image attribution flickr user mikewillis; l Do Less Of This & More Of This In Your School Staff Meeting; Boring School Staff Meeting? Here Are Some Ideas