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The Purpose of Faculty Meetings

by Steven Zook

as published in "The Christian School Builder" (August 1996)

Simply defined, a faculty meeting is a meeting of the teachers, principal, one or more
board members, or any others directly involved with the teaching program of a school.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss day-to-day school activities. Traditionally,
many Christian day schools have functioned well without special faculty meetings.
But if communication between the school administration and teachers is difficult to
achieve or if teacher-to-teacher sharing is needing improvement or if teacher
enthusiasm is lacking, perhaps having faculty meetings will enhance the school

An effective faculty meeting should provide for interaction among the teachers.
Teacher interchange is essential for efficient everyday school operation. Group
activities, practical teaching aids, supply sources, and grading patterns are some things
that can be discussed and shared. Interchange among teachers can add stability to the
uncertain new teacher and can give a more objective view of classroom problems.
These meetings expose each teacher to the broader scope of the school. Each teacher
can then benefit from the comments of the others.

The faculty meeting provides a way of control that enhances teacher interchange by
bringing all the teachers together in one place and directing the tenor of the
conversation. Teachers need not be formal, but extreme casualness can be detrimental.

Teachers need concrete conclusions in solving problems they face. Sharing with other
teachers does not always suffice to give direction. For example, after we have looked
at various angles of what to do with student activity prior to school time in the
morning, finally what shall we do? Some situations need more than options to give the
teacher the needed peace about a problem. Firm administrative direction will be
appreciated, even though he or she may not totally agree on what is advised.

A faculty meeting is a good place for sharing school board decisions that involve the
teachers in a general way (Individual teacher concerns should be shared privately)
Things such as school trip dates, school calendar changes, dress regulations, and
behavior problems can be shared at this meeting. New teachers can be oriented to the
particular practices a school may have, such as the school bounds, recess procedures,
and play area or restroom conduct patterns. Often teachers need reinforcing in school
regulations. The faculty meeting is a good place to give this direction.

Teachers should leave the faculty meeting encouraged and inspired to go on in their
work. The meeting should begin with prayer and inspirational thoughts from the
Scriptures. The one in charge should keep the discussions on a spiritual basis, using
and seeing the Holy Word as the solution for all situations of life. The Bible is the
source book of acceptable human behavior.

Teachers can gain the often-needed encouragement by hearing and seeing what other
teachers do and sensing the interest and support of those administrating the school.
Encouragement from others is an incentive to developing and continuing in the
teaching skills.

Schools that do not presently have faculty meetings should not begin to have faculty
meetings for the sake of innovation. This is not reason enough for changing a school's
method of communicating if it is working. On the other hand, the faculty meeting may
well serve as a tool to improve school communication and relationships.

Faculty meetings are not an end in themselves, but rather the means to an end. That
purpose is effective, efficient intraschool communication that enhances the day-to-day
work of the school. Properly conducted faculty meetings fulfill this purpose.

The Principal Connection / Faculty Meetings

Can Be Worthwhile
Thomas R. Hoerr

When is the last time you heard someone talk about attending a great faculty meeting? That's a
silly question, right? Regardless of the kind of school in which we work, the consensuseven
among those who lead the meetingsseems to be that faculty meetings are not a good use of

Too many principals fall into the trap of using faculty meetings to inefficiently convey
information. Rather than open up a dialogue or invite discussion of important topics, we read
information to teachers. Even worse, we sometimes have faculty meetings because, well, we
think we should have faculty meetings. We believe that there is some merit in bringing everyone
together, even if the agenda is flat. That is nonsense.
Information that doesn't require any discussion or learningimportant as it may beshould be
shared in writing. Reading off a sheet of paper to teachers can be insulting, and simply
announcing something doesn't guarantee that it will be heard. Similarly, holding a meeting for
the sake of holding a meeting not only wastes everyone's time but also reinforces the notion that
meetings aren't worthwhile.

It doesn't have to be this way. If well planned and wisely executed, faculty meetings can benefit
everyone. But first, we need to redefine the purpose of these meetings. At the New City School,
we have designated faculty meetings as a time for learning and as an opportunity to celebrate
victories and congratulate colleagues.

Employees who work in high-functioning organizations continually learn with and from their
colleagues. In such a setting, knowledge is not bound by hierarchical lines but stems from and is
enhanced by collegial interactions. Principals can foster such a climate by encouraging meeting
participants to think deeply and collaboratively about a given topic. We need to raise issues, ask
questions, and give teachers time for discussion. Why and how are better beginnings than what
and who. Maybe some of the issues won't be resolved by the end of the meeting, but that's OK.
Participants will leave with new ideas and different questions, and the dialogue will continue in
other settings.

A good way to facilitate this kind of meeting is to divide participants into small discussion
groups that allowindeed, compeleveryone to participate. Teachers should also be able to
offer input about discussion topics. It is important that the meeting belong to everyone, whether
that means writing the agenda on a dry-erase board in the teachers lounge a day or two before the
meeting, formally soliciting agenda items before the meeting, or simply beginning the meeting
with, Who has an issue that we should discuss? Teachers should be active participants, not
members of an audience.

Faculty meetings should also be times for celebration. Too often, we focus only on what didn't go
as well as we had hoped. I like to open faculty meetings by relating a positive comment that I
heard from a student's parent. Other times, I'll say, Turn to a neighbor and tell him or her what
worked for you this week. Taking the time to share our successes does wonders for those who
are recognized and establishes a positive tone that benefits everyone.

School leaders can do several things to make meetings more rewarding and worthwhile:

Take time to break the icenot just in August, but throughout the school year. Asking
questions like What teacher do you remember from your days as a student, and why? or
What book would you recommend to a friend? helps create a friendly, comfortable
atmosphere. We need to take time to know and appreciate one another, because
congeniality is the foundation of collegiality.

Spread the air time. It's not a good sign when administrators do all the talking. Principals
need to ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute.
Vary the location of the meeting. If space allows, holding meetings in teachers'
classrooms fosters a climate of sharing. Ask the host teacher to talk a bit about how he
or she decorated or designed the room for learning.

Focus meetings on particular topics. Principals can set a tone of collaboration by

announcing a meeting's topic beforehand and asking teachers to come with two or three

Bring food! Regardless of when meetings are held, munching on fruits, pretzels, or
pastries makes them more pleasant.

It's time to transform our faculty meetings from static, dull reading sessions into opportunities for
rich interaction. Who knows? You might just hear your teachers talking about that great faculty
meeting they just attended!