“I can’t wait until our in service meeting today! It is going to be awesome to learn more about the CORE curriculum we will be using.” exclaimed Bob.
“Like, OMG, it is going to be totally Swag!!!” squealed Robin.
“I concur,” Tim stated in his big-man-on-campus collegiate voice as he ran to the meeting.
Melissa’s eyes lit up as if she were told she was having triplets, and she shouted, “whoopee!”
And, young Ben, the new guy in the hall, shouted “Yippie!” as he skipped to the meeting.
“Wake up Dave! Dave, wake up!” Sam repeated as he nudged me in the arm. “You fell asleep during the principal’s introduction and overview on what we would be doing today.”
“Did I miss anything, Sam?” I asked as I wiped the drool from my chin.
“No.” She basically told us why we were having meetings.
So, That brings me to Rule #1 to a productive meeting. Attend well rested. Research has shown taking naps is better than drinking a cup of coffee, and this must be true because I read it on the Internet.
It also demonstrates Rule #2: do not have a meeting to explain why you will be having a meeting.
These two rules seem like common sense, but we all know that common sense is not so common. Face it, common sense should have told me that having children would cause me to spend money on toys I don’t play with, go to more doctor appointments for illnesses I don’t have, and be more responsible by not eating candy for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, and pop tarts for dinner. But, no, I did not listen to common sense. Of course, I eventually figured it out, after the fourth child.
Luckily, today, we did not have four meetings to tell us what we were meeting about. We stopped at two. So, Rule #3: Never have a second meeting to explain why there was a first meeting that explained what the purpose of the meetings will be. After all, redundancies can be boring. Let me repeat myself, don’t keep restating the same information over and over again.
After our second meeting, we moved to smaller groups to concentrate on one grade level. These smaller groups were then broken down further into twos or threes to work on one standard of the curriculum. For example, my partner and I examined the standard on informational text, three others looked at the literature standard, and another group analyzed writing. Why was this part of the meeting productive? One element would have to be the fact that we had one of our own teachers as a facilitator, and she did not try to be a know-it-all. She took notes to allow others the time to research the answers. Therefore, Rule #4 is to break tasks into smaller chunks. Feeling overwhelmed tends to cause some folks to shut down. In addition, Rule #5 is to utilize your own people, someone who is respected by coworkers.
Once we completed our analysis of the changes we would need to implement, we were ready for lunch. Rule #6, of course, is to never try to be productive on an empty stomach. Public schools provide the opportunity for breakfast and lunch for students because research has shown kids learn better when they are not thinking about eating. At least, that is what I read in some text-book in college. I know I work better without a “rumbly” in my tummy.
After a filling lunch of pizza and salad, we returned to our meeting room to share our thoughts. Rule #7 has to be to allow people to share ideas. Instead of all of us doing the same work, we outsourced parts to each other, then shared our evaluations. All of our sharing was completed quickly. Therefore, Rule #8 is to make sure participants keep it brief. Do not be afraid to allow the facilitator to thank a person for sharing while telling him or her to sit down and shut up. Even though the bruise under my eye will heal soon, throwing a book at someone is not an acceptable way to stop him from sharing important information.
Of course, Rule #9 is to end the meeting when the work is completed, not when the time you allotted is over. By giving the participants the opportunity to work efficiently and expeditiously, they will be more productive in the completion of other tasks, like creating new lesson plans.