459. Staff Meetings

One of the great things about being a retired volunteer is that I don’t have to go to staff meetings unless I want to. Now in my third year as a retired volunteer (as of this writing), I still haven’t wanted to. I like spending time with the teachers; we have great discussions in the
teachers’ room, and they really make me feel like part of the staff. But no one has even tried to get me to attend staff meetings, and I don’t feel the least bit left out.
Staff meetings are not supposed to be fun, but they are supposed to be useful. And for the most part, the teachers who object to them (almost all of the teachers who attend them, in my experience) don’t object so much to the fact that the meetings aren’t fun. They wish they could spend the time doing other things that may not be fun, either, but are more
useful – preparing to teach.
The staff meeting agenda is usually prepared by a person or people who believe that there are certain items teachers all need to hear, see, and/or discuss. Ideally, these are items which couldn’t be handled better through a newsletter. Newsletters, unfortunately, aren’t reliably effective media. There are teachers (including the one writing this article) who mean to read newsletters, but don’t get around to it until it’s too late for some of the items. There are even some teachers (including the one
writing this article) who forget about newsletters and/or lose them. It’s reminiscent of what some pupils do. I’m not going to argue that newsletters should replace staff meetings.
But maybe there’s a way to plan staff meetings so that they’ll be as meaningful and useful as possible. First of all, in planning staff meetings, planners ought to think carefully about which items are intended for
everyone who will be at the meeting. Teachers have all kinds of work to do, and they’d rather not spend lots of time hearing other people discussing matters that don’t concern them.
Sometimes there’s someone who has something to say, and wants everyone to hear it. In a well-planned, well-run meeting, that someone won’t be allowed to take up much time unless what he/she has to say has
already been deemed worthy of everyone’s attention, or unless a quick-thinking and clear-thinking leader decides that it’s worth everyone’s time.
Good planning and good leadership are no guarantees that the people who attend staff meetings will consider them worthwhile. There are teachers who are so used to these meetings that they tune out the moment they enter the room. And it may be impossible to make sure every item on the agenda is meaningful to everyone who attends the meeting. All I’m saying is that there’s room for improvement.

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