Effective meetings

Do you have any ideas for faculty meetings for a new science department chairperson? I’m sure I can handle most of the responsibilities, but I’m terrified of leading meetings. —S., Indiana

Facilitating a meeting is not unlike teaching a class, so apply your classroom management strategies to “meeting management.”

  • Send out an agenda prior to the meeting. Attach information items so the meeting time can be spent on more productive and interesting topics.
  • Be respectful of time. Give people a few minutes to tidy up their classrooms, but start and end the meeting at the designated times.
  • Stick to the agenda but be flexible enough to accommodate any great discussions.
  • Set aside a few minutes to recognize new issues or other concerns. Celebrate any teacher successes or accomplishments, too.
  • Snacks/treats might be appreciated at the end of a long day.
  • Send meeting minutes to all members of the department and keep the principal in the loop.

You could also use a “flipped classroom” strategy. For your meeting topic, send out readings or links to video segments to watch prior to the meeting. (The NSTA journals and web resources would be good sources.) Your meeting can focus on active discussion, decision-making, or teacher reflection related to these topics. Teachers can use the meeting time to work collaboratively on tasks that they would otherwise have to do on their own.

As a new chairperson, you may run into resistance from teachers who are used to the old ways. Participating in discussions or group activities may take some getting used to. If meetings previously were seen as a waste of time, you may have to be persistent to demonstrate that things are going to be better. And they will!


Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint/2987926396/

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