No More Bad Meetings: Three Mistakes and One Solution

I took a course at Eastern Mennonite University a couple years ago called Teaming and Collaboration. Essentially it was a course on running effective meetings.  While researching for this course, I was shocked to find out how often schools meet and how bad most meetings are.

The Two Biggest Meeting Mistakes

A couple weeks ago the Virginia High School League (VHSL) reminded me how NOT to run a meeting.  They made maybe the two biggest mistakes anyone could make when running a meeting.

Friday meeting by markhillary

A riveting meeting on a Friday afternoon.

1. The meeting was held on a Friday Afternoon. This is a huge NO-NO.  Teachers are people too, and the last thing we want to do is have a meeting on a Friday after our long week has finally finished.  But get this: the VHSL had the meeting at 5:30 on a Friday.  Yes, on a Friday evening in which I had to drive over an hour to get to, the meeting ALSO made the number one BIGGEST mistake any meeting could make –it was POINTLESS.

2. Pointless meetings. NEVER EVER have a meeting that could be covered with an email.  Even if you think there is some merit in seeing the people or sharing your anecdotes, the negatives of making people sit through a pointless meeting just makes the attendees hate the fact they are there and they end up resenting you for calling such a meeting.  And perhaps more important, they resent the actual point of the meeting.

This is a true story.  I drove over an hour to Charlottesville, VA on a Friday to sit in a meeting while the director read to us an email that had been sent to us.  WE CAN READ.

Mistake Number 3: Brainstorming

I had a friend and former colleague point this one out to me years ago,

Brainstorming tells the teachers that you did not plan anything and you just want to fill in some extra time with an activity and call it collaboration.

Ok let us be honest, we all know what happens in these brainstorming sessions.  We start out with good intentions, but then we get stuck on one topic (usually off-topic) and waste the entire time complaining or telling stories. At the last minute we elect one poor soul to represent us in what “we” came up with.  I somehow end up being this person a lot and I normally just think about what I should say while the other groups are sharing — clearly this is not collaboration.meeting in business

The Solution to Effective Collaboration

The Wiki.

The business world has been using this valuable technology for years and it is time schools start implementing the wiki as well.  First of all what is a wiki?  Essentially, it is a website that allows its users to contribute content and edit content.

This is a great video from commoncraft.com that helps explain the awesomeness of wikis.

One of the reasons brainstorming is ineffective is the contributors have a very limited amount of time. Also, people are supposed to come up with ideas at the same time others are sharing their ideas. One of the great things about a wiki is the ideas can be generated when the individual has time. For example, if you ask me right now a question like, how can we increase our students’ vocabulary? I may come up with a quick answer, but it is unlikely it is my best answer.  A better way for me to answer that question is to give me time to process the problem itself.

A wiki allows users to  have time to effectively process what the problem is and collaborate on their time schedule.  Communication and the synergy of ideas are often the two main goals of a meeting. The wiki accomplishes both of these tasks.

If you are curious about using wikis they are free for teachers to get started. Just go to Wikispaces or to PBworks.

Wikis Are Great in the Classroom Too!!!

Here is an awesome example of an English teacher using wikispaces with his students.

Do you like the way the students held the girl accountable?  Or would that make you feel uncomfortable as a teacher?

I like how the teacher awarded points for the most interaction and how he still maintained control over the entire assignment.

Do any of you use wikis? Or do you have questions about how to use wikis?

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Feature Imgage by markhillary

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