Thursday, April 3, 2014

Death by Meeting

A former colleague of mine always enjoyed showing a small cartoon she had cut out and saved.  It showed an epitaph engraved on a tombstone that read "death by meeting." 

It didn't mean all that much to me back then.  Even though we met as a team three or four days a week at times if we had nothing on the agenda we didn't meet at all.  Sure there were times, especially in the beginning of the year, that we met each and every day.  But as teachers and students settled into the year meeting three or four days a week was enough to discuss student progress, review concerns, plan intervention strategies and even enjoy some downtown conversation and camaraderie among colleagues.

Well that was then and now is completely different.  Meeting times are very scheduled.  As a team we have only two meeting times per week.  Other days are encumbered with grade-level PLCs.  Sometimes that's plenty, but most of the time we feel a need to rush through the agenda items that pile up just so we can finish before dismissal time and other professional obligations.  All the camaraderie has disappeared and the meetings seem more like a chore than a group working things out together.

We have our moments though.  Just yesterday we plugged along discussing new IEP goals, our thoughts on a GPA honor roll and student concerns.  Towards the end of the meeting our administrator recalled an incident involving a student's report of something she had witnessed on the way home from school.  I listened to her recall the incident and for some reason it just didn't seem right.  The facts as recalled by the student didn't quite add up to me.  I was suspicious of the story and before I even knew what I was doing I blurted out, "I don't know, she (student) makes crap up."

The special ed teacher burst into laughter across the table.  

"That's it she said.  From now on I'm going to write down the crazy things we say in these meetings and in June we'll reread them over drinks as we celebrate the end of the year."

Finally, the fun had returned to our meetings.

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