Faculty meetings are among the most important activities that school administrators conduct and engage in. A productive faculty meeting lays a foundation for current and future success. Successful meetings impact a school in numerous ways. You can cultivate fresh ideas for instruction, develop teaching skills and even boost faculty morale. A poor faculty meeting, on the other hand, is often dull, tedious and a drain on everyone’s scarce time. This is especially true for virtual faculty meetings that have become the norm for many schools due to the ongoing pandemic. It’s a challenge to keep faculty engaged and come up with ways to run effective faculty meetings in any environment. Here are some tips to help.
The easiest way to improve the effectiveness of faculty meetings is by empowering faculty members to have a greater voice. As an administrator you need an active and engaged audience to deliver crucial information. The best way to secure that is by involving the faculty in discussions with frequency and consistency. This not only helps you get your points across, it also creates a better flow of information. Faculty members face unique challenges and have creative ideas to improve processes. Dedicating time for them to speak will broaden the collective knowledge base with actionable information.
Managing communication in faculty meetings is more difficult in virtual settings. Zoom meetings can become chaotic when multiple people try to speak simultaneously, so it’s necessary to allot time for more open discussion. It’s also a good idea to solicit feedback between instruction topics so you aren’t lecturing for long periods of time. Finally, near the end of the meeting you can lead a short debriefing session to get a sense of how well it went and generate input to improve future meetings.
Faculty meetings often consist of a rigid structure mirroring the classroom: administrators prepare a lesson plan and lecture from the front while faculty sits stationary at desks. Subverting these norms of space, structure and even attendance can lead to more effective and engaging faculty meetings. Be creative about arranging activities that require movement and interaction so everyone can get involved in an open environment. For example, you could set up multiple stations with poll responses to address ongoing topics and questions.
Unfortunately these ideas may be constrained by health protocols related to the pandemic. However, there are still ways to tinker with the structure of faculty meetings, even virtually. If your faculty meetings are bloated you can divide the faculty into sub-committees or organize material into subtopics. In smaller groups you can communicate more efficiently – especially in virtual meetings – and empower all the members to have a voice and share ideas. This works best in conjunction with workplace chat channels like Slack. Leverage technology so faculty can plan meeting topics and attendance, and then share and review the results in a collaborative process.
When an administrator sets the agenda for a faculty meeting it’s important to remember what the ultimate purpose is – educating students. It’s impossible not to get bogged down with budget constraints, parent complaints, student discipline, and countless other issues that pop up, but educational growth has to remain a core objective of faculty meetings.
Administrators are responsible for myriad tasks but faculty meetings provide an opportunity to impact student education more directly. Take advantage and place an emphasis on developing instructors – arming them with the knowledge and skills to educate more effectively. Short-term concerns may seem urgent but you don’t want to make a habit of sacrificing core long-term educational objectives. Try to cover new topics and ideas for educational development at regular intervals to underscore that education is the main purpose.
To recap, there are 3 key concepts for leading faculty meetings virtually or in-person: communication, structure, and purpose. Empowering faculty voices signals effective leadership, and should result in better engagement and development. Rigid, monotonous structure is a drag on meetings, so experiment with new ways to organize them. Finally, and most importantly, don’t lose track of the educational purpose – as the instructional leader, make it a consistent priority to improve educational practices. Remember these simple, fundamental tips to lead better meetings for everyone involved.