Principal Helpline: How Can We Have Better Faculty Meetings?

Take the time to make staff meetings worth attending

How Can I Make School Staff Meetings Worth Attending?

Q.

How can I improve our monthly faculty meetings so they are more useful and informative and help build a sense of community? They start out well, but sometimes they degenerate into a kind of gripe session that just isn’t helpful.

A.

Faculty meetings are a great opportunity to plan and to share ideas. They are also important in building a sense of community and developing a common philosophy about kids and education.

But good faculty meetings don’t just happen spontaneously; you have to think about what you want to accomplish and what you have to do to ensure that everyone leaves feeling it was time well spent.

Here are some guidelines that can help you set the tone and keep discussion on track:

Have an agenda

Prepare an agenda and email it the day before the meeting so that everyone knows why you’re meeting. Too often the principal has an agenda in his head, but it isn’t shared with faculty. As a result they don’t think about the topics beforehand and may not feel their input in valued. Also, don’t put anything on the agenda that can be handled in a memo.

Take minutes

Ask your secretary to take minutes and distribute them online the following day. Minutes remind everyone what was said and decided upon. They also indicate that faculty meetings are important enough to record.

Respect time boundaries

Start on time and finish on time (or a little early if possible).

Don’t dwell

When a topic has been sufficiently discussed, move on. The agenda shows everything that needs to be covered, so teachers are less likely to get hung up on one issue.

Address concerns

The last item on the agenda should be “Faculty Concerns.”

Get closure

At the end of the meeting, thank everyone for their time and attention.

Pro tip

Serve good cookies and something to drink. Refreshments get everyone there on time and set a welcoming, positive tone for the meeting.  I can attest that serving refreshments at faculty meetings is worth every penny it costs. Teachers appreciate the gesture and feel that you care about them.

Also, as teachers are settling in with their cookies, you can welcome them and use the first few minutes of the meeting for little celebrations. Maybe you had 10 more kids on the honor roll this quarter or all the sixth graders can now open their lockers. Celebrating these accomplishments, big and small, shows your faculty what you value and what kind of school you want to have.  It also shows that you have your finger on the pulse of the school!

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Suzanne Tingley

Posted by Suzanne Tingley

Suzanne Tingley has been a middle/high school teacher, department chair, principal, and superintendent. She taught graduate classes in education administration for the State University of New York. She developed a series of education videos and has been a Scholastic Administrator blogger.