Career Questions: The Endless Faculty Meeting
Q: Once a month (or more) our principal calls a general faculty meeting. I understand that it’s sometimes helpful to get everyone together to talk about things. But here’s the problem: The principal does all the talking! There’s no discussion about anything; the principal sets the agenda (which we don’t see) and then moves through all the items himself. I should add that most, if not all, of the items on his agenda could have been handled in an email. It’s a waste of time, and when I look around the room, some teachers are grading papers, some are checking their email or texting, and some are doing crossword puzzles. It’s making me crazy. Any suggestions?
A: I can hear your frustration! Time is a precious commodity for teachers, and no one likes to be held captive after a long school day when they could be getting ready for the next day or spending time with their family.
Someone – maybe you – needs to have a chat with your principal. Maybe he holds the meetings out of habit or maybe he’s just not comfortable using email. Or maybe he has control issues. Whatever the reason behind these meetings, somebody needs to sit with the principal and give him some honest feedback.
For starters, every faculty meeting should have a shared agenda. An agenda focuses discussion and serves as a tool for keeping everyone on track. When an agenda is distributed, information items that could be handled via email become obvious. The last item on the agenda should be “From the floor,” so that those at the meeting have an opportunity to bring up issues themselves.
A faculty meeting is a good time to share ideas, suggestions, or solutions to common problems. It’s an opportunity to get input from the group. It’s a time for team building. It’s not a time to simply sit and listen to one person speak (after all, it’s a meeting, not a lecture). If your school has a faculty council or recognized faculty leaders, maybe someone from those groups could talk to the principal privately about how to use faculty meetings more effectively. Calling him to task in front of a group of people is a good way to ensure that nothing changes.