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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David Jakes has an interesting post today about "integration" that is worth reading.

I think that the problem with faculty meetings is, they are meetings, and not a model of great teaching. But the thing is, if we're going to gather teachers together and talk to them, wouldn't it be a great opportunity if we made them about great teaching??

Isn't there a way to convey information and also convey it well? I think the thing is--great teaching takes time...and we don't tend to think of planning meetings with as much care as we would staff development.

I posted about this issue as well, Greg, about the fact that we all need to take the challenge and believe that the world our students live in is the real one they will have--they won't have the world we had.
This question poses powerful discussion. If, and that's a big IF, a faculty bought-in to the idea of a web 2.0 sort of meeting space, the resources and ideas that could be exchanged during one school year would be enough to fill 20 years of traditional faculty meetings. In my school we train teachers to differentiate instruction and engage students in the learning process, but then have faculty meetings once monthly where the teachers sit and listen to information from the principal or others.
The obstacle I see is in actually getting the teachers to interact online using a wiki or blogish meeting tool. I have asked teachers why they resist posting to school blogs, and for the most part they shy away from the permanence of their comments. Another reason is that they like the traditional meetings, where they can doze off and not participate at all. Others commented that they like things to stay the same. The secret is to find the ones who are eager to collaborate online, and let it grow from there. It may not be faculty meetings, but you have to start somewhere.
Thankfully powerful spaces are out there, such as the ning network, where teachers have collaboration opportunities at their fingertips.
I just created a closed ning network for the faculty at my school. I haven't rolled it out yet, I'm new and I'm trying to pace myself. I'm hoping it will become a place where people can collaborate and share and get to know each other. Fingers are crossed ;)
Hi Kay and Elizabeth,
I'm also thinking about getting a ning network going for faculty. Trying to figure out how to start it up so that as many people as possible get involved. How can it be made most inviting, most welcoming, most interesting and worthy of people's time? The idea came to me when we were sitting through yet another meeting in which all of us sat and listened to the same people go on and on. What about the quiet, reflective people? How can they get their voices in? Anyhow, please keep us posted, Elizabeth--we'll learn from you!
Kay, I love this line:
"If, and that's a big IF, a faculty bought-in to the idea of a web 2.0 sort of meeting space, the resources and ideas that could be exchanged during one school year would be enough to fill 20 years of traditional faculty meetings." So true!

Exactly! Good pedagogy should apply to how teachers are taught! Absolutely. I think it requires shifting over the climate to one of everyone learning together all the time. How radical is that?

This discussion is a breath of fresh air: Brad saying meetings should be for "facilitating faculty discussion," Wade mentioning "utopian meetings in which people are engaged and involved" (a paraphrase), Elizabeth and Patrick suggesting that using something like the Coalition of Essential Schools' Critical Friends' process would be valuable.
Hmmmm. Now how do we activate all this? What are the steps in moving forward? I guess we just need to continue to share our discoveries as we try things!
You will have to be able to target all staff. I am currently in a computer class and have just learned about wikis, and I really like them and think they're pretty easy to use. I will be entering the teaching profession, and like a lot of faculty, I am not great with computers, I tend to stay away from them, don't trust them, and still write everything with good ole' pencil and paper. But I'm trying to move with the times, and even though your idea sounds excellent, I hope it will be one that could be understood by faculty that will be just as computer illiterate as I am.
I think this is a great way to show the staff that technology is embraced and important to the administration. But I do feel there is also a need for face-to-face staff meeting at times, particularly if the topic is of a sensitive nature. I know it would take our staff a while to get use to the idea. Some still don't use email well. The only thing I see standing in the way of such an idea is if the administration doesn't completely embrace technology or needs to learn to use something such as wikispace. Good luck!
This post has generated some great discussion Brad - Thanks! At our school (prep to year 12) we have two technology gurus who practise what they preach in every possible way. They have generously given up their time on one night after school each week - "Walk in , walk out Wednesday's". On this afternoon any staff member can go and ask questions and get help on any ICT project they happen to be working on. Every teacher is at different stages, with different specific interests, so this is one way of addressing different experience, needs and abilites. Of course, like our students, not all teachers are interested or motivated to improve their technology learning, but hopefully those who are, are leading by example. When the students are engaged and working in ways that challenge teachers, hopefully those teachers will make an effort to catch up!
For about 10 minutes at the beginning of each staff meeting, teacher's are invited to showcase new tools and projects, so it is a good opportunity to keep everyone up to date with the possibilities. Some teachers resent this 'technology by stealth' but they are the minority and you can't please all the people all the time!
I really like th 'technology by stealth' idea for faculty meetings. I don't know about anyone else but at our school we don't have the opportunity (or enough time) to share ideas outside our grade level. I find that seeing and hearing the ideas of other teachers I get even more inspired. We all get wrapped up in our classrooms sometimes and forget to look to others for inspiration. Having even a 5 minute highlight time at sit-down staff meetings may inspire someone else to use technology in their classroom.

I still like Brad's idea of wikispace for the less important staff meetings. What about using Classroom 2.0 to set up a space strictly for your school? Is it possible to set up a restricted space and have only a staff group join?
I don't have a lot to add to this discussion, but I just wanted to note how interesting this whole thread is. My school has been trying to use a Ning to do just this sort of thing. I'm not sure it's been enormously successful, but the ideas here really give me some food for thought.
We are currently "practicing what we are preaching" by exposing as many web20 tools to as many teachers as we can in the most non-threatening manner possible.

We opened our school year with a video found on a fellow educator's blog followed by small group discussions. We made sure to have the blog up on the big screen so the staff could see where we were getting the video from.

A second way we are exposing our staff is by creating a wiki for some breakout groups we have created to investigate high school reform models. Although only a bakers dozen will be working on it originally, we will open it up to the entire staff after it is fully functional so everyone can contribute.

Our philosophy is to use the technology, find nonthreatening ways for the teachers to need to use it, and hope they see the value and begin using it on their own.

I will be blogging along the way to keep a journal of our progess. We are a very traditional school so it is a very exciting venture!
I think that the monthly meeting is out of fashion. Technology has reached a point where communication can effectively occur continuously by using web 2.0 tools like blogging and discussion boards.

The monthly meeting should rather be a conversation that happens throughout the month. Members should use discussion boards to post new topics and create threads that keep the conversation going all month long.

Then, possibly at the end of the month, a meeting can occur that addresses only the points that could not be resolved online.



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