How important, would you say, is incorporating Web 2.0 tools into monthly faculty meetings? My gut says that we should practice what we preach, (if that is what we are preaching) but I sometimes struggle with the logistics. If we really want to bring Web 2.0 technologies into our school environment, then we have to show these tools make things easier. I have set up a school wikispace to facilitate professional discussion and it is working for the most part, but I don't think it is the same as the monthly meeting. In fact, I am not even sure if the monthly meeting, as it happens in most schools, is working. I am curious to hear other perceptions of the "monthly meeting." Is it worthwhile and necessary, or should it be restructured in some way. Ours are usually for dispensing information and last about 40 minutes- to me this doesn't seem like the best use of time. What do you think?

Tags: 2.0, Web, administration, education, faculty, meetings

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Good questions. I've got three ideas.

1. We used a wiki to plan EduBloggerCon in Atlanta, and did so by letting people "set the agenda" by describing what they would like to learn about and what they felt comfortable leading a discussion about. I think a wiki for monthly staff meetings that gave attendees the power to help set the agenda (which you may already do) and even talk about in advance might be really effective. I also like taking notes on a wiki projected on the wall--gives everyone a sense of what's being recorded, and where to go later to see the notes.

2. I really like having a "back-channel" chat mechanism in meetings. Meaning, I am on phone conference calls all the time, and often there is something I think I'd like to bring up, but can be very hard with that many people on the phone. Same with physical meetings. Using something like www.campfirenow.com (I know there are free ones as well) so that people can have a discussion during the discussion might help those who feel like their voices are not heard as often. This idea does depend on having computers in the meeting!

3. If you used Ning, you could actually post issues or questions in advance of the meeting as forum topics, and get feedback and response before the meeting. It could also be used to follow up afterwards, and likely could be used in place of actually having to be part of physical meetings for a lot of topics--maybe even for topics that wouldn't come up otherwise.

Are these at all in line with what you were looking for?
In my former school we had "traditional" faculty meetings a few times a year. During the other meeting times we chose a strand - like "closing the achievement gap," "technology" or a "critical friends" group. We divided into smaller groups run by colleagues (who volunteered to lead their strand) and met together during the faculty meeting time. At the end of the year, each group presented to the whole faculty and shared what they had done together. This was a much more productive use of our time. Most of what is said at faculty meetings can be written down.

I've changed schools and we have a new principal. So far we have had pretty traditional faculty meetings. I'm too new there to make much change right now. But eventually I plan to suggest ideas for a different format.
It seems to me that info could be passed in a memo, wiki, whatever. Here's an aside---one thing that drives me crazy is the one size fits all format of faculty meetings--you have to go whether the topic is of importance to you or not---it all has to be fair. I've seen the gym teacher or the nurse or the music teacher sit through many meetings and inservices that are a waste of their time. Heaven forbid someone would think they are not putting in their share of butt-time!
Absolutely. Schools seem to have missed out on the reform of meeting structures and formats. Surely we could accomplish what is achieved now using read/write web. Or email. Or memos.
BUT, the technology won't transform the content. The big picture - as Wade says - is the objective. What is the aim, what are the outcomes, even (zounds, the temerity of it!) the affective goals of the meeting?
Many long years ago, John Cleese produced a remarkable series of training films. The one that counts here is Meetings, Bloody Meetings! It's main points (but if you can get it, watch it!): Set an agenda (with a timeline and responsible people), circulate it, provide pre-reading, then you have an informed, aware and ready group. If this is done web 2.0, then everybody has the chance to contribute, not just the one or two who need to be heard and who steal anyone else's contribution time - or at least delay them from either getting home or getting real work done.
Then you can get the voice of the concerned staff, the fruit of their (asynchronous) thinking, and either formalise what's needed in f2f contexts, or just plain go ahead and do!
Agreed. But I will say that we've been conditioned to expect nothing from staff and faculty meetings, and we often wind up with even less than that. As with Classroom 2.0, the fact is that many staff are apathetic about many things - so we resource the non-apathetic (does that make them pathetic?) ones more helpfully rather than discourage them too. And if they don't want to engage - digitally, like our students there's always the tunnel - to bored.com, facebook, and for the really locked-down schools Freecell and Minesweeper!
That seems to be the problem with all change- involvement- the sad truth is that most are satisfied to stay stagnant and passive. I understand the time constraint we all have during the day and I understand how much easier it is to complain, rather than engage.

Again, teachers and students alike need to see the benefit of these technologies and, more importantly, how it makes things easier. If they don't they will not be accepted by the masses.

I agree that these meetings need to have an objective and they need to give something more than information. Professional development that is decided upon beforehand is what the objective should be. a chance for academic discussion to be had be the staff and an opportunity to encourage life-long learning.
Hi Brad,

I wonder about the same questions you've posed here.

At first when I read your post I jumped to the conclusion that you were talking about "showing" really cool new tools, applications, sites--"show" amazing stuff.
Then I realized that you were talking about changing the structure of information flow and collaboration in your immediate environment.
(Wow--!)


If I could ramble a bit with several reactions:

Many teachers I know say that staff meetings are not just a "get business done" time (which translates to a bunch of memos that we could have received via email), but worse than that. What makes many meetings worse is that they are energy-draining rather than energy-providing. Faculty meetings should be rejuvenating, uplifting, honest, philosophical, playful, productive, collaborative. How do we figure out the way to get to this?

Have you, has anyone found a satisfactory format for faculty discussion and collaboration with wikis--or with a ning network, with Moodle, or anything? Maybe this is what you're asking the network. What brings people to thoughtful collaboration the most fruitfully, and how? All examples are valuable. Even what didn't work at all! This is a great avenue to explore in Web 2.0, CR2.0.

Steve, it's profound that you've used wikis to "set agendas."

Nings (obviously, given the stellar example of CR2.0) are also viable tools for thinking together.

But use of either one would be moving mountains in many places! (Love the idea of using web 2.0 tools in conjunction with staff meetings.)

How could it be set up so change can "creep in" (or come crashing in like a tidal wave, either, or anything inbetween) from an honest and direct information exchange? What's most inviting as a format? What's easy enough so that non-technos will be able to figure out how to navigate?

This is a great forum--great questions and responses. Let's go for these "utopian" faculty meetings that promote "life-long learning," with purposes such as those provided by Elizabeth Davis, which require and give back energy and involvement.
I have always been a fan of meetings that leave you changed when you leave, or in the least make you do something you wouldn't normally do on your own (provided it has a benefit to the profession). In this light, bringing the staff together to tell them the latest news or give them directions seems detrimental to creating a sense of community in the sense that are talking about. Why not use that space that is contractually required to form, as Elizabeth says, "critical friends" groups to refine their lessons and pedagogy?

Web 2.0, and the tools that bear it's moniker, is just a means to an end, and if the tools have the ability to transform the way we meet and collectively accomplish our goals as a school, then by all means, let's use them. However, is the staff ready for more than just sit and get? And if not, how do you get them to that point?
Good questions, although teachers(and all of us on staff) do complain when a meeting is just sit and get.
I was talking with someone in Second Life who had done research suggesting that Staff Development doesn't work. I know in my building, the staff has been shown Google Earth a few times, and we still have science and social science teachers who don't get it and are not using it. (something I think is criminal, I used it in every subject when I taught self-contained). And this is in a building where almost every teacher has an LCD projector.

I think there are some teacher's who just don't want to change, and some who just don't have the time. I have found the best way to get teacher's to realize technologies potential is to work one on one with them doing a collaborative project. If I make it easy for them they are more willing to try it. I also try to keep putting a bug in teacher's ears about different technologies. I sometime feel like a salesman, but when I get a teacher involved, it's an awesome feeling.
Greg-
I guess that was my point in starting this discussion. We, and I don't mean just administrators, need to practice what we preach. It helos when administrators get involved, but I feel like sometimes when I push something, no matter how hard I try, there are some people on my staff who will view it as a directive- and no change that is going to stick should be a directive. We meaning all of us who are advocates of these tools. Not for technology's sake but for the sake of making things easier and more efficient. Technology IS just a means to an end and we need to be damn clear of what that end is- or else. I say that emphatically because the kids suffer when we don't know what or goals are.

So when you say some don't want to change and some don;t have the time, I guess the more those of us that do use these tools for and with the staff the more staff will see the practical applications for their classrooms.

The objective of all PD should making things better- how we deliver instruction is directly related to how students react to instruction. While most of the careers that we are preparing our students for don't even exist yet (we all know where I stole that line from) it is our job to give students the tools with which to manage and use information. And the tools with which to manage HOW THEY LEARN.
I like what you said about being "damn clear what that end is". I love technology, and I use it daily for just about every task. I "think" tech first, paper and pencil second. But I have grown up with it and spend a lot of time keeping up with it. I say this because I am also a skeptic. Realistically, on a day to day practical level a PC hasn't always been the easiest way for most people to do things, until recently. (I suppose that is a grand statement and some of you might disagree with me, but that is a different discussion). I think web 2.0 has really brought the internet to a new level that can finally deliver the promises it made ten years ago. Collaboration, video, blogs.. these have all brought a human element. I have worked with a lot of great teachers from a different generation, most weren't resistant to technology, they just didn't see the advantage. They felt like they were just integrating technology for technologies sake and weren't willing to throw out decades worth of experience to try something new. And I think they were right some of the time. There was no "end in mind". Perhaps we need to think about how we can sell this new internet to teachers who only want to know how it is going to, as you say "make things better".

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