This particular post may not go over with my current/former administrators. I hope they don’t take it too personally!
But, for real, should administrators be a part of team/department meetings?
This loaded question is coming from a legitimate place.I am not merely seeking a way to make meetings more fun/less workish. Margaritas and limbo sticks will not be replacing minutes and PowerPoints. Nevertheless, I can’t be the only teacher who notices the difference in a faculty meeting when an administrator is not present as opposed to a meeting organized and supervised by school administration. Sure, things are a bit more raucous and some time is wasted getting the group back on task from time to time. But, I think the outcome is worth the chaos.
Yes, much depends on the administrator. Some school leaders are skilled in creating effective and positive meeting environments. They really flatten the hierarchy, encouraging teachers to play an equal and respected role in shaping the agenda and in decision-making.
But, as nice as that all sounds, would more be gained at meetings if administration was not present? Would anyone hesitate to bring up a controversial topic if the boss wasn’t around? Would the meeting drift away from the prescribed agenda and, being more open-ended, explore issues that leadership isn’t aware of? Rather than coalescing around the administrator’s opinions/objectives, would meetings become more teacher driven?
This kind of reminds me of a student-centered versus a teacher-centered classroom. The latter is quiet. The students usually sit in assigned seats organized into neat rows. The lesson is calmly and confidently guided along via the sage expertise of the knowledgeable and goal-focused teacher/leader. The student-centered class, on the other hand, is different. Students are usually doing the talking. And loudly. They may be moving around the room. There may even be music blaring. Here, students are usually working on a topic that connects to their experiences/interests, using resources of their choosing, and presenting their work in a manner that matches their skills/talents.
There is a cloud attached to the silver lining of all this potential freedom. There is the danger/frustration of teachers using the time to focus on their own particular needs/situations instead of those of the whole. Also, it is not always easy to come to a clear consensus when the floor is open to a variety of differing opinions and points of view. Sometimes you need a leader to get the discussion back on focus.
But, if teachers could just hang out together and share their awesomeness with each other, maybe more awesomeness would happen.