Principal Laura Guggino's favorite meetings are those where staff members bring favorite activities. She announces the type of activity in advance. "For example, I might ask each teacher to make 30 copies of a favorite graphic organizer. At the meeting, we share them and discuss the merits of using graphic organizers. Everybody leaves the meeting with a package of graphic organizers to incorporate into their daily lesson plans." The next time, teachers might be asked to bring a favorite spelling activity, a favorite idea for teaching with maps, or a favorite math game.
"Staff meetings are a time for pats on the back. I try to find the less significant things to reward. The big things are easy and seen by most, but to reward my custodian for surviving five days of rain goes a long way with everyone and shows due appreciation. I also like activities that inform my staff about their colleagues' outside-of-school lives. Scavenger hunts about the faculty or a Web page of pictures of staff members from their junior high days can bring people together as a team. As a result of those activities, the science teacher and the basketball coach might learn of their mutual love of The Partridge Family or travels to Alaska and bond into a stronger team as a result." (Uwe C. Gordon)
"My favorite staff meeting was one led by one of our teachers -- a second-grade teacher who shared what she had learned in a graduate level course she had taken. She presented Mazlow and Bloom to a staff of experienced teachers who respected her abilities. The goal was to simply present a new idea and to provide enough knowledge to pique interest in furthering the learning. I believe the success of that meeting came from the idea that a teacher led the meeting and that I participated in the session as a learner. The staff became so interested in sharing new learning that that type of meeting soon became standard practice in the building. Everyone learned from each other, which helped to develop staff morale and raise the level of expertise of the entire staff." (Jim DeGenova)
Bill Myers sets an agenda in order to keep staff meetings on track. Teachers are parents too, so Myers always designate one staff member as the clock-watcher. Myers and the clock-watcher agree ahead of time on a secret "time up" signal such as a tug on the earlobe. When the clock-watcher signals, Myers moves the focus of the meeting to the next agenda item. But who is the signaler, and what is the signal? That is all part of the fun! "As staff members entered the meeting, each was given a [card] with their name on it. I explain that I have a secret clock-watcher with a secret signal. When the meeting is over, they write on their card the name of the clock-watcher and what the secret signal was. The cards go into a bag and are drawn until a winner is found. I did not expect the hilarious ideas I got about the secret signal. Among the guesses were 'when Diana fluffed her hair' or 'when Gail played with her skirt' [but] when the meeting ended, the agenda was complete, people were still laughing, and our collegiality was even more solidified."
"The best staff meeting I have ever experienced was one where one of the teachers led us through a simplified form of the DISC personality inventory. Each teacher was given four pictures -- a lion, an otter, a golden retriever, and a beaver. They had to choose which of those animals most accurately depicted themselves. Before each teacher revealed their self-assessment, the rest of us made our own assessments of how we perceived them. Then staff members showed their choices. It was a lot of fun getting to know one another better." (Brian Hazeltine)
Take Five more to read this entire article from Education World's "Principal Files" series:
"Great Staff Meetings: Pointers from the Principals Who Lead Them"
(Education World -- August 20, 2002)