28 Apr Make Your School Meetings Transparent
by Kelby Zenor, Rubicon International
You know all those meetings you go to? Department meetings, PLC meetings, grade level meetings, faculty meetings, admin meetings, etc… (this list could go on forever).
What do you do when you miss a meeting? You might ask someone but most likely just show up to the next meeting without context.
What if you are intrigued by what others are talking about in their meeting? Maybe you catch them in the hall or staff room, but most likely you forget.
What do you do with those meeting notes? Hmm…in a file, computer or brain, somewhere.
In order to support these conversations there is a group of schools who are transforming the way they capture, share, and reflect on these meetings using their Atlas system.
CURATING CONVERSATIONS – TWO PERSPECTIVES
JULIE JOHNSON AND MARIE VANDECOEVERING AT HOLY CROSS CATHOLIC SCHOOL
Julie Johnson is the principal at the school and shares her perspective of capturing meeting minutes:
Holy Cross has embraced the use of Rubicon not only for curriculum development but also as a communication tool among teachers. Under the leadership of our Curriculum Development Team, the teachers have come to see Rubicon not only as a “mapping” tool but also a way to seek alignment of standards across the grade levels and communication among the grade levels. The teachers were already looking for a way to communicate more effectively the discussions and concerns from our Professional Learning Communities and we had attempted to set up a google doc with mixed results. After the training received from Rubicon, the teachers agreed to use the “Meeting Agendas and Minutes” as our tool. All teachers have the ability to access this site and communicate with each other regarding matters concerning particular classrooms or the whole school.
Marie Vandecoevering is the middle school math specialist at the school and share her perspective of documenting the conversations:
Our Pre-K through 8 school has 3 different PLC’s: primary, intermediate, and middle school. We meet in our PLC’s about twice a month and for every meeting we have an agenda to follow and are expected to take notes and submit them after the meeting. Historically, each PLC had their own method of taking notes: handwritten, own personal computer, a Google doc, e-mail to principal, etc… The problem is, for school-wide matters there wasn’t great communication among the grade bands. Rubicon was able to customize a new “course” for all teacher titled “Meeting Agenda and Minutes.” All PLC’s can access the meeting agenda on their maps and all teams submit minutes on as an attachment. It is an excellent way for us to document conversations, re-visit questions, and track concerns through out the year. It has improved communication among all grade levels and it has helped us as a staff stay organized and consistent with our documentation of our meeting minutes.
DEPARTMENT MEETING MINUTES
AMY CLERIDES AT AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL IN CYPRUS
We use the template for our Departmental Meetings, Divisional Meetings and Student Study Meetings. Our Middle School student council supervisor just asked me to create a place for her to document those minutes, too. We find that it is a great way to get our teachers into Atlas more often and it gives us the opportunity to view each other’s minutes so we have greater transparency and awareness of what’s going on around across grade levels and subject areas. As an administrator, I can go in to add my comments and ask & answer questions as needed. The only people who have editing privileges are the chair of the meeting, the principal and the director.
What they learned from using the template for the past 4 months
- Simplicity – the current template has more boxes than needed. They’re looking at removing the action/next steps and timeline boxes and merge Today’s Agenda and Meeting Notes.
- Admin Transparency – It is helpful to put admin comments right into the meeting notes in another color and bolded.
- Provide an Example – a mock-up of really well written minutes to share with department/division heads at the start of the year will support having a standardized way of writing the minutes.
NANCY LHOEST-SQUICCIARIN AT INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF LUXEMBOURG
As Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching and Learning, one of my primary responsibilities is to provide the framework for a professional learning community.
According to Richard DuFour the core principles of professional learning communities include:
- What do we want each student to learn?
- How will we know when each student has learned it?
- How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?
Knowing these big ideas, platforms are created for teachers to engage and embrace their collective knowledge and intelligence. One such platform is the Meeting Highlights template located on Rubicon Atlas. Since all curriculum documentation including learning objectives, syllabi and policies are already on Rubicon Atlas for Grades 6 – 12, publishing meeting highlights which encapsulate the subject meeting discussions was an obvious step. The meeting template not only highlights the decisions and thought processing of the Upper School staff, but also confirms our commitment to have discussions that support and impact student learning and teacher practice. Having meeting highlights documented in Rubicon Atlas allows for greater transparency and communication between all teachers in the Upper School with a focus on student learning.