Voices in Education

New Ways to Power Up and Re-energize Faculty Meetings

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Oh, the faculty meeting. Often met with an eye roll, this necessary evil has a bad reputation. Maybe it shouldn’t.

More Voice and Choice for Educators

Last autumn, I found myself sitting at an Edcamp session with teachers sharing strategies to improve school climate. Interestingly enough, the faculty meeting became a prominent point in the discussion. Top-down meetings seemed to be edging toward a thing of the past and I was thrilled as teachers began comparing the newer types of faculty meetings employed at their schools to bring staff together. These models seemed to provide teachers with more voice and choice in school decisions, thus setting the tone for a positive school culture.

The faculty meeting, often met with such dread, is in reality an ideal platform for teachers to connect, discuss issues, and contribute to a collaborative decision-making process.  It’s how you run it that can make all the difference.

Modernizing the Faculty Meeting

As teachers explained what each of their schools were doing, I began to take notes on what was working and how they each suited a different purpose. I realized that too often, leaders seemed to pick one way to run their faculty meetings when in reality,  there are a variety of structures they could utilize, each with their own merits.

Teachers seem happier when meetings are run effectively, and want meeting time to be used to help them to do their jobs more efficiently. Here’s a rundown of models that seemed to be met with the most enthusiasm and when it was most appropriate to use them.

New Approaches to the Faculty Meeting Model

When you're working on a collaborative initiative, want to ensure that teachers are driving the decision-making, or simply ensure all teachers have a chance to voice their opinions...

TRY

The Micro Faculty Meeting: Monthly meetings held over the course of two days where leadership meets with smaller groups of teachers throughout the school day in lieu of one big meeting.

Benefits:

  • Inclusive - Easier for people to engage in discussions and get involved with the decision making process.
  • Collaborative - Eliminates hierarchy. Creates a greater sense of community among staff.
  • Works with teachers schedules.

Drawbacks:

  • Time consuming for administrators
  • Less cohesive - Not everyone will be on the same page


When you need a more practical way to disseminate information, but still allow for teacher input…

TRY

The Flipped Faculty Meeting: Leadership sends out the staff meeting agenda (e.g. powerpoint) in advance so that staff can review prior and spend meeting time working together.

Benefits:

  • Efficient - Quick way to get the word out on initiatives and to share information.
  • Time Saver - Meeting time can be used for staff input and collaboration

Drawbacks:

  • Still hard to give voice to most folks in a full faculty meeting
  • Teachers might still not be engaged during the actual faculty meeting


When you want staff to have the opportunity to learn from one another…

TRY

The Edcamp Style Faculty Meeting:  Faculty meeting time is broken up into breakout sessions selected  and led by colleagues.

Benefits:

  • Boosts staff engagement.
  • Sparks collaborative initiatives.
  • Personalized towards staffs’ interests.

Setbacks:

  • Required information/initiatives might not make it to everyone.
  • Less cohesive - not everyone will be on the same page


School culture can be a deal breaker for teachers tempted to leave the classroom. When teachers feel valued and respected, it improves job satisfaction. When they feel heard and are able to contribute to the decision making process, it can make them less likely to leave. Faculty meetings provide the time and space for teachers to come together to address school concerns -- they just need a timely revamp to ensure that the meeting is relevant and meets its potential.

Michelle Blanchet

Michelle Blanchet Educator Twitter: @educatorslab

Michelle Blanchet is an educator and entrepreneur. She has been working with young people for the past ten years and founded The Educators’ Lab, which supports teacher driven solutions to educational challenges. Michelle earned a Master in International Relations from Instituto de Empresa in Madrid. She has taught sociology and economics, and has presented at numerous events including SXSWedu and TEDxLausanne. She has worked with organizations like PBS Education, Ashoka’s Youth Venture, the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, and the Center for Curriculum Redesign. Michelle is a part of the Global Shaper Community of the World Economic Forum and blogs for Edutopia.

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