This discussion method promotes equal participation and careful listening. It allows quieter members of a group to get the floor.
The "Talking Stick"
Too many people talking at once? This idea borrowed from Native American culture can be used to ensure that one person at a time is given the floor and is fully heard.
BINGO Warm-Up Exercise
This activity can be used to "break the ice" in a new group; use it to learn participants' names and something about them.
Is in the Air
Change can be difficult. This quick and fun idea is especially useful when you need to introduce a change that might not be widely applauded or accepted.
Graphic Agendas for Lively Meetings
You can create lively, graphic meeting agendas on a flip chart to help keep the group on track, clarify the work to be done, and have some fun at the same time.
Appointing a secret clock-watcher to keep meetings on track can add an element of fun to your meeting. Who'll guess the secret signal that keeps the meeting leader on track?
The "Have-a-Ball Brainstorm" activity is ideal for times when you want to hear from everyone; when you don't want one or two people to monopolize the conversation.
Plan a special event at which you'll share with parents your latest School Report Card or test results. All participants help generate ideas for school improvement.
Visual Metaphors Describe Complex Situations
In order to grasp the current situation, small groups draw an image to describe it. Then the larger group reflects on what they have learned form the groups' images.
If you have difficulty getting meetings started on time because people straggle in, then awarding a door prize at the top of the meeting might encourage on-time attendance.
The Number 6
This quick exercise illustrates in a fun way that problems that might seem big -- perhaps even overwhelming -- could be easier to solve than first meets the eye.
A Grid for Comparing Different Options
This tool can be used when hiring a new teacher and in many other situations. How do the options compare to the established criteria?
Keeping Fresh Ideas Alive
Teachers leave professional development meetings charged up about new ideas. A few weeks later, they've lost the motivation. This simple idea helps keep fresh ideas alive.
Need to decide between two companies' textbooks? Or whether to go to a block schedule or not? Consider using a Venn diagram to help your staff look at issues that divide them.
Use Brain Mapping to Analyze Causes of a Problem
Sometimes problems are complex; they have a variety causes and even causes for the causes. Here is a graphic tool that will help you clarify the analysis.
"We Are Like Glass"
This poem offers a thought-provoking and inspiring way to end any meeting. It might also be used as a drop-in-the-mailbox reminder of the role teachers play in students' lives.
Stoplight Cards & Thumbs Up
When decisions need to be made, and you are looking for a consensus among your staff, Stoplight Cards and Thumbs Up are two tools you might use.
A Newspaper Article About the Future
Often groups get bogged down in the problems of the present and have trouble envisioning the future. This idea can help define the vision, generate enthusiasm, and provide inspiration.
Getting Everybody Involved
This fun activity ensures that all meeting participants are actively engaged and participating; everybody gives their 2 cents (or a five cents!).
Levels of Consensus
This simple approach enables you to see how close your staff is to reaching consensus on an issue. This quick way of arriving at a decision can clarify where everyone in the group stands and prevent "talking an issue to death."
"Four Cards" Differentiation
This activity helps teachers develop differentiation skills by focusing on students who might benefit from slightly different approaches.
This meeting activity gives your whole staff an opportunity to play the role of professional developer -- solving problems for one another -- for an hour.
The pro-con sheet offers a simple way to identify the reasons for and against a particular idea. It is a good way to look at all aspects of an option before making a final decision.
Ideas in a Minute
See how many different and new ideas your teachers can collect on themes of interest to everyone by using this professional development for-teachers/by-teachers strategy.
"I Stand for"
This meeting activity is a powerful reminder for all involved about why they became educators in the first place. A perfect activity for mid-year or the end of the school year.
Improving Student Writing
Teachers share samples of "typical" student writing. They reflect on those samples and discuss how they can work together to improve instruction and student writing.
"Teacher Book Talks" as a Profession Development Tool
Teachers in many schools are gathering in groups large and small to read, discuss, and learn from books that open their eyes to inspiration and new teaching strategies.
Pats on the Back & Awards
Add fun and recognition to your staff meetings with special awards. The awards can be teacher- (rather than principal-) generated. They can even be a little silly.
In this activity, teachers establish three goals at the start of the year. They revisit/evaluate their progress toward those goals mid-year and at the end of the year.
Points of Joy
There's always room for more positive thinking and sharing in schools. See if sharing Points of Joy doesn't get your staff more focused on the positive things in your school.
Teachers' Show-and-Tell Theme of the Month
Focus the spotlight on "ideas that work." In this activity, principals set the theme for a 15-minute idea sharing session at each month's staff meeting.
FISH! Philosophy Has Hooked
"Schools" of Principals
The FISH! philosophy is bent on creating a positive atmosphere that brings together all members of a school community. Learn about it and you'll be hooked.
Going over rules and procedures is one of the dullest parts of back-to-school staff meetings. Liven up this dull routine with Handbook Jeopardy.
Getting-to-Know-You Scavenger Hunt
Staff scavenger hunts are a fun way to kick off the year. They help new and returning faculty members get better acquainted. Included: A list of 25 "hunt" items.
The "Survivor" TV show offers a great starting point for a day of building staff camaraderie and setting a tone for a year focused on meeting needs of all students.