There is nothing I hate more than inefficient processes. I guess its my Type A personality, but I like to make the most of my time and productivity is a major mood booster in my world.
The most inefficient use of time is a weekly staff meeting. People arrive late so the meeting doesn’t start on time, there’s endless talking, announcements are of a variety that do not apply to everyone in the room… and the list goes on. Before any worthwhile content is shared, its been 30 minutes and everyone is checked out.
Many school districts require “seat time,” meaning professionals have to sit in professional development meetings for one hour to earn one credit towards keeping their teaching license active. However, this rule focuses on quantity of time instead of quality of time. You would think teachers would be excited to sit through 30 minutes of wasted time as they are receiving the credit, but the truth is there’s way too much required of a teacher in a day to enjoy wasted time. During these meetings, teachers are to-do listing and stressing out over all that is left to do before they can go home to see their families instead of listening and learning the content being shared.
A book called “Hacking Education- 10 Quick Fixes for Every School,” was written by Mark Barnes and an educator friend of mine Jennifer Gonzalez, author of Cult of Pedagogy. The chapter of interest is called “Meet Me in the Cloud” where announcements and other logistical information are shared on a back channel. Educators are expected to read this information prior to the meeting, so that the in-person time is spent solely on collaboration.
This is a brilliant idea! I know administrators worry about the accountability piece since many teachers rarely check emails or read school newsletters and thus this backchannel wouldn’t solve the wasted time during staff meetings problem. However, when rolling out the new expectations to staff, sharing the rationale behind the decision always helps get folks on board. They feel you are leveling with them, that you have their needs and wants in mind, and that you are a responsive leader. Plus, teachers will go crazy to know they can check the backchannel at a time convenient to them (as long as its before the meeting), and still earn credit towards their licensure. Coming to the staff meeting to roll up sleeves and get to work is a great use of time and the synergy created there will motivate any reluctant teachers to jump on board.
This solution is absolutely something I would want to have implemented at my own school. I imagine myself checking the backchannel from my phone as I settle into bed the night before staff meeting Wednesdays. I see myself showing up to the meeting early, excited for what we are going to learn and DO that day. I can sense the excitement in the air as all teachers are putting phones away, finishing a quick snack, and diving head first into the day’s challenge. The room is active and alert. Attitudes are happy and excited.
What a change this staff meeting time has become! The reward of saved time is an increase in staff morale and motivation. The rewards of this change are endless and all of them culture changing.
Start thinking about how to better utilize time together so that everyone is involved and participating. After all, we want classrooms a buzz with students doing the learning- isn’t that the same result we want from our meetings with teachers?
How could your school benefit from moving meetings to the cloud?