My assistant principal and I flipped our first staff meeting today. In just under three minutes we were able to deliver the content that might have consumed a valuable chunk of time when all our teachers were together during a late start meeting, and by distilling the information we needed to present into something I could send out to my staff we freed the time for teachers to work together, share strategies, and truly develop as professionals.
Certainly there are times when it’s not inappropriate for a guy in a tie to stand in front of his staff and talk; I ran a 59 minute long meeting on the first day teachers came back from summer vacation, and used the time to share our mission and vision and introduce almost a dozen new teachers. What isn’t effective, however, is standing in front of a group of professionals and talking through a series of PowerPoint slides that contain information that could be captured in a memo. Teachers can read. And they will, if they understand the importance of what’s being given to them, and that they won’t have to sift through unnecessary chaff to find the wheat they need.
Flipping our staff meeting today made my AP and I do some sifting ourselves. We looked at the points we wanted to make, prioritized, pruned, and came up with five items that we wanted teachers and staff to know about. We dispensed with the reminders that are better suited to an email, ditched the cute graphics (and the overly technical graphics), and focused on the human message we wanted to deliver.
It came in at a run time of 2:43.
The video, I mean, done with enough cheekiness to (hopefully) bring a smile to anyone watching from her desk or his couch. A couple of early emails suggested we hit our tone well. For those who didn’t want to bother with the video, I included a PDF of the major points, elucidated as much as they needed to be to get the message across, and inviting follow up conversations as teachers might want them.
I think as teachers enjoy the real fruits of the labor: added time to truly collaborate on our late start meeting, they’ll appreciate more than our video. I think, I hope, that they’ll see that as educators we can all take chances. We can challenge the status quo, try new approaches, and still keep our focus on learning. Who knows, sometimes it’s even okay to imagine that going to a meeting is something you can do from your couch with a bowl of popcorn.