This year I have tried something I have always wanted to do, but just didn't have the right ingredient, okay people, to do so. But this year, for some reason I am truly unaware of, I do. This year I have been blessed to work with a group of educators who take full advantage of my open agenda staff meetings.
So what exactly is an open agenda staff meeting?
It is a meeting where I, the principal, do not have full control over what is discussed in our staff meetings. In fact, every person on my team has the right and freedom to add a topic of discussion to the agenda. And to my surprise, a majority of the topics submitted have been geared toward improving teaching and learning. Some of the topics that have been presented thus far include data review, staff socials, RTI, Special Education and how to effectively maintain records regarding accommodations and modifications, etc. Any topic that can be answered before the meeting is done so write on the agenda.
When I say that our staff meetings are well attended, that is an understatement. My teachers actually look forward to our staff meetings and look forward to the sometimes candid conversations we find ourselves having. My teachers know that it is perfectly okay to disagree with me and they do not fear retribution for having done so.
Do I work in a utopia? Absolutely not! We still have a lot of work to do and I am so happy that were are eager to get it done.
So exactly where did I learn this open meeting agenda idea?
From my Superintendent! He is definitely a man who practices what he preaches. He believes in shared leadership and encourages everyone from admin to teachers to find their niche and run with it. In fact, if you were to visit one of our district's committee meetings you would not be able to identify the admin from the teachers. At the table, all voices are equal, even when it comes to making financial decisions about what we as a district are going to invest in. I will never forget the day when the teacher's at our last district RTI (Response to Intervention - yes we are still catching up) meeting expressed their disdain for a particular program we purchased the year before. I won't forget this meeting because it was at this meeting where my Superintendent said, "I knew this all along, but I had to let you come to this conclusion. So now what do we do?"
Some might find this kind of leadership troubling and that's okay. For I have learned after 16 years in this field, that what floats my boat, won't always float yours and vice versa. But for those of you interested in exploring this concept further, let's chat and see how we might sharpen each other's skills and make school a better place for all parties involved.
Until next time...