By Colin Sloper and Gavin Grift
We’ve all sat through meetings that are a complete waste of time and energy.
More often than not, the success of any collaborative team meeting depends on the person running it. And that’s very much the case in schools focused on becoming professional learning communities (PLCs).
So if you’re the meeting facilitator, how can you avoid the eight mistakes below?
Mistake #1: Not being prepared
When a team facilitator isn’t prepared, failure almost inevitably follows.
If you’re listing agenda items willy-nilly, the meeting could quickly turn into a talkfest.
So as you’re developing agenda items, think through the purpose of each one carefully.
Mistake #2: Not considering the outcome
If you haven’t considered the outcome the meeting should have, ask yourself: what’s the agreement or decision that needs to be made? That goes for the meeting as a whole, and each agenda item too.
Mistake #3: Failing to think strategically
It’s all well and good to list agenda items, but if you haven’t thought about the processes you’re going to use to resolve or deal with each item, that’s a problem.
So consider which processes are most suitable to resolve each discussion point.
Mistake #4: Not communicating clearly
While you may have come up with clear strategies for the meeting, don’t forget to let the rest of the participants in on the plan!
Let the team know how much time will be dedicated to each item, the process you’ll be using to discuss it, and the desired outcome.
Mistake #5: Assuming you have to do everything
Often facilitators make the mistake of assuming they have to be everything to everyone.
But the power of the meeting is in the roles that everybody plays in bringing it their experience and ideas to the table. So delegate roles, such as timekeeper or note-taker, out to the team.
Mistake #6: Not understanding the role
If you don’t understand the facilitator’s role, it’s tricky to perform it.
Your purpose is to facilitate the discussion while remaining neutral and providing a process for participants to have their input.
Mistake #7: Making decisions based on perceptions
Remind participants that decisions should be made based on concrete evidence of improved student learning, which allows a team to identify which teaching practices are having the greatest impact on student learning.
This helps prevent decisions from defaulting to the facilitator, or the person with the loudest voice.
Mistake #8: Not respecting everyone’s precious time
Schools are busy places, so it’s crucial to maximise the time spent in meetings.
You should encourage the team to think of the consequence of each discussion – and the tangible actions that fall from it.
That way, the meeting is seen as more purposeful by all, and critical to the overall goal of improving student learning. In other words, time well spent.