Turn your most-dreaded chore into a positive, worthwhile experience.


When your to-do list is a mile long, your inbox is overflowing, and you’re buried in grading, the very last thing you want to do is spend an hour after school at an obligatory-but-pointless team or grade-level meeting. You know the ones: lackluster, uninspired, and ultimately frustrating for everyone involved. Sigh.

So how do we makeover our team meetings, taking them from blah to refreshing? Here are some pointers that’ll breathe fresh life into gatherings gone stale — while saving your time and sanity.

1. Stay on topic. Your team should have an agenda that everyone’s previously agreed on, and they should stick to it. This will help prevent the group from digressing or wasting time. If you’re leading (or wanting to help take the reins), send out a group email asking for input as to what should be on the agenda — preferably a week or so in advance. Then, a day or two before, send out a digital copy of the agenda. Bonus: Bring printed copies to the meeting so teachers who take notes best by hand can scribble away.

2. Keep it positive. Planning sessions, professional development opportunities, level meetings — it’s awful how just about anything can spiral into a complaint session and leave us with a sour taste in our mouths. Vow to keep the time positive, and share those intentions with your colleagues. If there’s a problem, come in with practical suggestions — not protests and gossip. Keep student success at the forefront. Step in armed with a contagious smile on your face and spotlight what you and your team have control over, and maybe take turns bringing snacks. Snacks help.

3. Collaborate. Utilize resources that encourage open collaboration. Make it painless (and paperless) by using a platform like Google Docs/Drive, which allows team members to work together in real time and share easily. Give everyone a chance to speak up, and try to listen first before jumping in.

4. Do your share. Every member should bring a resource to the meeting; consider a lesson-planning template, a link to a web tool, an article on education, or a SMART Board Notebook. Set the tone where everyone shares their most valuable tools. We all know that keeping them locked in our own classrooms is detrimental not only to the team atmosphere, but our collective students.

5. Follow up. Have one team teacher keep minutes on the meeting and then email them out to the group. Absentees can catch up this way, and the conclusions and progress documented in the minutes will help everyone as a reference point. If you’re leading, follow through with support for those who need it and reminders for the team.

Teacher meet-ups can and absolutely should be invigorating and helpful. Lead the way with these tips, and you’ll be on track to spend your valuable time in a supportive, efficient, and encouraging atmosphere.

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