'Tis the season to sit in meetings, fa la la la la . . . .
The beginning of a new school year always means meetings . . . meet for this, meet for that, at times it seems like you have a meeting to say you had a meeting. Through the years, I have had some interesting professional development meetings. Yes, I know, I may be in the minority of teachers who can say I have sat through some interesting professional development meetings. Here are a few things that my principals did that made the meetings worthwhile.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:
We all love to sit by our buddies when we go to a meetings, but I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. Why? Throughout the school year, you will work with more staff members than the ones on your team or your small group of buddies. Mixing it up with regards to where you sit, gives you the opportunity to "chit chat". Many times informal communication helps build connections (a.k.a. relationships) so you will feel more comfortable to approach a staff member when you have a question or need help. Just like the old saying about it takes a village to raise a child, I think it takes a school, all of the employees in a school, to educate a child. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten helpful insight about some of my puzzle kids from staff members who weren't a member of my comfort zone. There was the time my custodian observed my student's lack of interactions with classmates at lunch, the librarian who noticed my student has a love for dinosaur books which I used to motivate him with dinosaur stickers, the computer teacher who noticed my student is my class "tech expert", and many other helpful insights. Getting out of your comfort zone and getting to know more staff members will help you and your students.
If you are in charge of planning your P.D. meeting, you can mix up your seating chart with this fun activity. The only glitch with this activity is men. If you have men on your staff, they won't be able to do this activity, so tell them to split up and sit at different tables. Have ladies with the same lipstick style sit together.
What is Your Personal Style When Working in a Group:
When you are a teacher, you are not an island, although you may feel alone when you close your classroom door. Think about how many times a day you interact with other members of the staff . . . the cafeteria manager when you forgot your lunch count, the nurse when your student who is a member of your "frequent flyer" program ask to go the nurse for the fifth time in an hour, the speech pathologist who needs to reschedule due to a staffing . . . my point is teachers are not an island, we are a cog in a system. All it takes is one member of the cog to get "out of whack" and the system breaks down. This is why this activity is so beneficial. When you understand how members of your school work within a group, you will work better together.