Guarantee the Success of Your Collaborative Team Meetings
We’ve all sat through meetings that are a waste of time and energy. More often than not, the success of any collaborative team meeting depends on the person running it.
That’s very much the case in schools focused on becoming professional learning communities (PLCs).
So if you’re the one facilitating the meeting, how can you set it up for success?
Here are seven tips.
1. Understand your role
Your job is to make sure your team is focusing on the right work, and constantly getting better at it.
But in many teams, I’ve seen the leader forget – or neglect – to also see that the meeting should be an opportunity to ensure teachers are getting better at collaborating, better at discussing their practice, and better at carrying out their important work.
2. Are you the leader or facilitator?
Traditionally, we’ve called people who are in charge of teams, ‘team leaders’. But this can sometimes be counterproductive, because the term ‘leader’ seems to imply that we have the knowledge.
In some aspects of the collaborative team process, it is important that there is a leader who understands the process and leads the process. But there will also be occasions where you need to take more of a back seat and become the facilitator of the process, rather than the fount of all wisdom.
So when you’re drawing up the agenda for your next meeting, it’s important to clarify what your role will be.
3. Make sure others are clear on your role
It’s important to be upfront. For a particular item, you might say: “For this item, it’s a really important discussion we’re going to have, I am just going to be the facilitator of the process. I will have my voice, but it is a single voice, and not my voice as leader. I generally want to hear everyone’s ideas, so that we can collaboratively come up with a way forward to improve the learning of our students”.
It’s all about being clear about what your role is, and then making sure the team understands why you’re acting in a certain way.
4. Be prepared
In schools, everyone is time-poor.
But if you can set aside a little bit of time to think about the meeting, and the main outcomes you want from the meeting and each agenda item, you’re more likely to construct the meeting and run it much more effectively.
5. Upskill, upskill, upskill
You shouldn’t be the only person who has the skills to run a meeting. After all, what happens when you’re absent or on leave? It’s beneficial to ensure others have been skilled up, even if it’s initially only asking them to run one agenda item.
This is a great way to build collaboration and to demonstrate to all educators at the meeting that you are a team.
6. Share the chair
Along with skilling people up, you should also give them the opportunity to hone their skills. That might take time, and you might need to grow people into this space.
But by rotating the responsibility of running meetings, it’s a really important way of showing that you trust people, and value their abilities.
7. Build your container
If you’re constantly using the same process to work through agenda items, it can become quite a boring exercise for team members.
So start to build up a toolkit of protocols and strategies that you can draw on. That way it’s relatively easy to flick through and select the protocol that fits with the outcome you’re trying to achieve from any agenda item.