When we often hear the word “meeting” we cringe. We’ve all been part of meetings that have gone awry.
Sometimes it is because we haven’t planned well. Other times it is because we have people in attendance who aren’t comfortable with ground rules. Still other times we, for whatever reason, choose not to deviate from an agenda.
That said, meetings are incredibly important. We need them in order to hold ourselves to task. And we need them in order to make sure that we are staying up on happenings in our schools, districts, and agencies.
I find myself in meetings regularly, and I have learned to see the tremendous value in them. The goal, of course, is to make sure that meetings meet the needs of those in attendance, and that every meeting has a purpose and rationale that require it to exist.
One of the gatherings I think is the best example of why regular meetings have tremendous value is our monthly Curriculum Council. Put into practice by my supervisor, these meetings of superintendents, assistant superintendents, and curriculum directors provides for regional conversation on everything from workshops being led by our agency to state education department updates, to learning sessions led by representatives of our Council. In between meetings, conversation occurs via phone calls, an active listserv, and the use of a wiki. Agendas are distributed in advance, and we always hold to the time constraints that all members are under. Meeting attendance is always high, and we regularly add new members to the cohesive group.
One of the reasons these meetings seem to go so well is because there is a consistent understanding of the purpose for each meeting, and the vision of where we want the Council to go. Since Council members facilitate learning sessions, there is a capacity built that would not exist otherwise, and the long-standing culture built by my supervisor and all who are a part of the Council is recognized and respected.
All meetings, on some level, should exhibit this design. We need to always make sure that we value people’s time, input, and voices. A great way to do this is by making sure that all meetings have meaning.