education · leadership

Flipping or Flattening the Staff Meeting

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.”
— Roger von Oech

The First Try
A couple weeks ago, my Director of Ed and I did a mini flip (previously posted about the mini flip) during our weekly Friday inservice meetings. We presented on the idea of how WebQuests could work within our specific program to integrate technology, while maintaining our mission as a skill-based transitional program for students with learning disabilities. (eaglehillsouthport.org) The presentation started with some information presented, and then a WebQuest task to directly involved the staff in learning what WebQuests were and how they function. That meeting ended up with more excitement and laughs than hadn’t occurred at a staff meeting in quite a while.

Our Headmaster had not been able to be there, but I had texted him information, photos and video of some of the process. He was rather interested to learn more about what had been done, and how this process of a “Flipped Meeting” could be utilized in the future.

The Second Attempt
This past Friday it was tried again. There was a brief presentation by Doug Lyons, head of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), that addressed some of the current trends in Education. Then we broke into groups to discuss ideas, challenges, opportunities and future thoughts about what was presented as well as other information related to the specific group we were with. These groups included teachers and staff as well as Board members, all the stake holders that impact the school. This meeting, while not flipping in the sense of utilizing technology as a means to an end, was flipped or flattened in that it took away the lecture feature that often dominates staff meetings.

Why does it matter
Most poignant was that the task flipped or flattened without direct use of technology (except the group I facilitated of course as it addressed communication and technology). What did occur was discussion and participation for all the key players, teachers, staff and board members, all on an even stance for the task. It was not a lecture based meeting, as often occurs, but an engaging, thought provoking process that ensured everyone could be heard and valued for their knowledge, while providing opportunities for learning. Additionally this will be a repeated process to continue, that everyone is eagerly looking forward to.

What I heard
What truly made me think to write about it, was a comment I overheard a teacher make, “In my seven years here, I have never walked away more energized.” Another teacher commented that in the past, weekly meetings often seemed about quantity, but this approach addressed quality.

Today’s education initiatives seek to engage and motivate students to become greater participants in learning so they can gain the skills to be greater global contributors. Should we not be doing the same for those people charged with teaching them to engage in this process? Not every staff meeting can be flipped or flattened, just like every classroom lesson can’t be for our learners. However, it should be considered as to how the teachers can be motivated to more active participants for productive meetings, as we are seeking for students to do in the classroom.

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”
— George Kneller

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