We’ve all seen it before right? The ribbon you can get for surviving a meeting that could have been an email. While funny, it’s still a bit sad, particularly for those of us who convened the meeting.
So what’s the answer? How do we avoid the the rolling of eyes and passive engagement, and still achieve the outcomes we desire when we gather staff and colleagues together?
While this post won’t solve all of your challenges, it does offer four strategies you can use to ensure staff meetings are more successful. Once you’ve had a chance to review, I invite you to come on over to FB and share your successes and/or how you have modified the strategies.
Research suggests that the most important feature of a high-quality educational environment is a knowledgeable and responsive adult and that PD can foster these characteristics (National Research Council, 2001; Schoen et al., 2003; Sowder, 2007).
If the blog becomes TL;DR, you are welcome to download the free infographic, which shares the four strategies in an easy to consume format.
Strategy #1: Model Demo
This is where peer-mediated intervention, which we use with children, works wonders with adult learners too. The Model demo strategy is where staff (new and/or veteran) are able to demonstrate a key practice. For example, they can show a video of how they embed small groups across the daily routine vs. only during a specified time and at small tables. Staff can provide sample models of how they complete a portion of an evaluation report or other required paperwork. Lastly, staff can demonstrate by role playing with colleagues or walking through their process to achieve fidelity of implementation. This strategy is particularly helpful if staff need to shift practices, but are stuck/comfortable in doing things the same old way. By seeing what the new “behavior” looks like, makes it a little less daunting. Click here to read a blog about using direct instruction effectively with adult learners.
Use of demonstrations, practice, and feedback, especially from coaches, increases the positive effects of information-only training (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005; Pellegrino, 2007)
Strategy #2: Buffet Line
This is where with a little pre-planning, you have resources available for staff to quickly review. Think of it as a self-guided tour at a museum. There are exhibits, and staff move from one to the next without you needing to be the guide. This means you may need audio or video support that is 2 minutes or less and highlights the resource. You may also need to create bulleted summaries of the what, why, and how behind the resource. Lastly you may need to be clear about what decision needs to be made (to adopt or not adopt, to use or discontinue use) or the expectation you have regarding the resources and changes to existing practice. Once all staff have visited and briefly explored the items on display (aka in the buffet line), take a quick vote and decide which resources will be explored in more depth at a future staff meeting vs. those which can be shared via email or not at all. Sometimes what we think is the best thing ever, goes untouched at the buffet line.
Strategy #3: Problem-Solving
This strategy has four phases and allows everyone to be heard, allows all barriers to be acknowledged, and at the same time, keeps the group from spending the entire meeting admiring the problem. To implement this strategy, you’ll need flip chart paper/smartboard/projection system, ground rules, a note-taker, and a time-keeper. During the first phase, ask open-ended questions related to a key practice and allow all staff to brainstorm problems they see, from their perspective, in getting to implementation. The note-taker records ALL responses (no judgement or discussion during this phase). The time-keeper reminds staff of how much time remains and calls a halt to this first phase when time is up. You can limit this part of the activity to even 5 minutes or less. During the second phase, staff anonymously vote (you can use something like poll everywhere) on which problems they are most interested in solving. At this juncture, you may remind staff to consider the problems they have control over and/or can influence. The note-taker then takes the top three problems identified through the vote and puts them on separate “sheets” of paper. A set amount of time is allotted for the third phase, where all staff brainstorm solutions to each of the top problems (either each problem in turn or as things come to mind). Having ground rules may be necessary for this phase. For example, no judging or evaluating how possible the solution is…staff should be encouraged to think outside the box and be creative in offering possible solutions. During the fourth and final phase (can be done by a smaller group or the whole group), action steps are identified for putting the most viable solutions into action. The note-taker records who will do what, by when, and how the degree to which the problem was solved will be determined.
Strategy #4: Learning Centers
This strategy is much like creating learning centers for children so they can engage in self-directed play across curricular outcomes. As with children, each learning center for staff are highly relevant and engaging, include a wide variety of materials and information for learners at different stages in “development”, and are based upon interests. That said, what you want staff to learn should be at the forefront of your planning efforts. Click here to request my sentence starters for planning and delivering transformative PD. Once you have created the learning centers, based upon significant learning outcomes, invite staff to explore the various centers. Try not to limit the number of staff who can participate in a center at any given time. If you find one or two centers to be highly “attractive”, try to note why, so you can replicate what is working across future centers. You can set time limits and have staff rotate “on demand” through the centers; however, your goal is engagement, so arbitrarily having all staff visit each center may be better served using the “Buffet Line” strategy. Use of the “Learning Centers” strategy when you want staff to explore and go deep on topics and practices most relevant to their role and current needs. This can be highly effective if you have a mixture of new staff and veteran staff, teachers, associates, and therapists, or even home-based and center-based providers.
And…don’t forget…all meetings that matter, include at least 5 other things…you can learn more about meetings that matter by downloading the infographic.
Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M., & Wallace, F. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature (FMHI publication no. 231). Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, the National Implementation Research Network.
National Research Council. (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press
Pellegrino, J. W. (2007). From early reading to high school mathematics: Matching case studies of four educational innovations against principles for effective scale up. In B. Schneider & S.-K. McDonald (Eds.), Scale up in practice (pp. 131–139). Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield.
Schoen, H. L., Cebulla, K. J., Finn, K. F., & Fi, C. (2003). Teacher variables that relate to student achievement when using a standards-based curriculum. Journal for Research in
Mathematics Education, 34(3), 228–259.
Sowder, J. T. (2007). The mathematical education and development of teachers. In F. K. Lester, Jr., (Ed.), Vol. 1. Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning
(pp. 157–223). New York, NY: Information Age Publishing.