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- The Importance of Feedback in Distance Learning - October 9, 2020
- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
Our prep periods are precious. They are the few moments of the day when we can enjoy adult interaction, possibly eat, grade papers, and lesson plan. If you are an elementary school teacher, I know you do not have any time to yourself. This is why department meetings need to be quick and efficient. I do not believe in having a department meeting for the sake of having a meeting. Here are some tips to make your next meeting productive.
1. Preparation. I always send out an email a week in advance letting my team members know we are having a meeting on this day at this time. A week gives teachers time to plan and bring necessary materials to the meeting. Letting them know they have a meeting the day of is extremely frustrating and inconsiderate. Send a text the night before and remind everyone again. Have copies made and a sign in sheet ready. Making your department wait on you to be organized is a way to have everyone cranky.
2. Time. Keep meeting short and to the point. An hour meeting is usually not necessary. Questions are bound to happen, but do not let them be dragged out into a whining session. We all have things to do and I always have my door open for venting, but a department meeting is not the time or the place.
3. Something useful. I love finding new strategies to use and share with my department. Policies and procedures are a necessity, but we did not go into teaching to spend hours just on how to file paper work or how to give a standardized tests. We went into education to make learning exciting for the kids. I try to have something cool to share and invite other members of our team to share their ideas. It makes the time spend worth it. We didn’t just deliver information that will be filed away, we gave something useful to our team.
4. Individual meetings. There is nothing worse than delivering a blanket statement to your team. Chances are the majority of them are taking care of business and will become distressed if you say something general. Sit down and discuss issues with the teachers that need to hear it. There is no point in wasting everyone’s time if only one or two people need to be addressed. Sometimes you just need to check on your department individually and make sure they are okay. Some people do not feel comfortable talking in front of everyone. I pop into my teams’ classrooms during our prep to make sure everyone is okay.
5. Can this be an email? Seriously. If it is a just reminders or a check list, why not send the email out? Ask for a read receipt. We are all adults with a college education. If a few people are not following through, see number four. Meet with them individually.
Time is valuable, meetings are necessary, and the two do not always mix. I have learned more from my colleagues sitting over lunch in the lounge exchanging ideas and strategies than holding formal meetings. If you treat your department like professionals and give them respect, meetings will be efficient and not tiresome. If you develop relationships with your department and team, they will feel comfortable talking to each other and work together better as department. Sometimes the best meetings just happen when everyone appears in the lounge or one classroom just chatting and sharing, not because they are “formally called.”