google+-fi8 (Mostly) Digital Alternatives To Meetings

by Terry Heick

Okay—quick post. Was admin’ing the TeachThought twitter feed this morning when I saw four tweets in six minutes regarding rules and “tips” for “paying closer attention” in staff meetings. There is a lot implied in this kind of thinking.

  1. Schools have a lot of meetings
  2. Educators (of all position) have trouble paying attention in said meetings
  3. Teachers lack the professionalism to focus on what’s most important, or that the content in the meetings isn’t really that important
  4. Improving “focus” for said unengaged educators is a matter of listing tips, rules, and “norms”

It’s unclear why we just accept that meetings suck and waste our time and “that’s just the way it is”? We’ve talked about boring staff meetings before (seemingly a sore spot for us). So I asked our followers–perhaps rhetorically–what would make it better, and got a simple, but authentic response. (Update: I’ve gotten several messages from teachers in response to this saying their meetings don’t, in fact, suck–that they’re useful and engaging. It could well be that I expect too much of them?)

Anyhow, @Linda1746 had five simple characteristics of a “useful” staff meeting:

via Lindamarie (@Linda1746) August 11, 2014

Lovely. Relevant and useful. Give me something I can actually use. Don’t treat them like personal forums to discuss individual topics. So here are a few ideas to replace them entirely.

8 (Mostly) Digital Alternatives To Meetings

1. Empower small groups for quicker, more personalized and adaptive meetings. Who’s here and what do they need to know? vs Is everyone here? Fill out the roster so you can get “credit”
for attending. Here’s a Jolly Rancher to ease the pain.

2. Consider technology like Google Hangouts and Skype for said small groups–they don’t even have to be in the same room, or even on computers. Video conferencing–use the data team or lit circle format if you’d like. Every teacher has a role. Notes get uploaded and tagged. Admins and group leaders get cc’d.

3. District official? Help create less wasteful and redundant district and state “policies” that make said time wasting a matter of law. Make the product, effect, or big idea a matter of policy, not the paperwork and physical presence. We do the same with students. This is why attendance and behavior aren’t matters of school accountability, but assessment performance is.

4. Use technology like Voxer (here’s their Google Play app)–think of it like voice text messaging, with sent receipts, offline use, image support, groups, and more.

5. Use bulletpoint mass texts with need-to-know info, and clear, specific call-to-actions for response

6. Use an ongoing, school or department-specific twitter hashtag to promote conversations where comments are aggregated and automatically embedded in a mass document for “accountability.”

7. Create a closed Google+ Community to communicate, share, document, and curate training, info exchange, etc.

8. Need something more robust? Consider a platform like gotomeetings that allow for webinar-style digital interaction.

I’ve probably oversimplified this, as usual. Thoughts?

8 (Mostly) Digital Alternatives To Meetings