Staff meetings are like Classes

I’ve been reflecting on how similar the relationship is between Principal and her staff and that of each teacher and her class. And sometimes it’s not the positive aspects that come to the forefront.

For example, yesterday a teacher came to inform me that she might not be at the meeting because she needed to work with students after school. Instead of inquiring, and working towards a win-win, I responded emotionally, and triggered a similar emotional reaction in her. I recall the same reaction when a student told me he was going to miss a test due to a family vacation. Rather than honour the good aspects (being informed ahead of the event, the purpose of the absence, etc.) I jumped straight to the “rules”, and appeared to be inflexible and lacking empathy.

And after yesterday’s busy and active meeting, I worried about those who arrived late, those who left early, and those who didn’t ever arrive, rather than focussing on the excellent participation of the 80% of my staff who were there.

How many times did I choose the same path with my class?

However, this doesn’t mean that I should ignore those who missed important conversations from our meeting. Just as I would as a teacher, it is my job to follow up with each of them, and ensure that the learning happens. And I can’t let my personal feelings get in the way of my primary job: supporting each of them to be the best teacher they can be.

So, what do I have to do differently?

1. Be proactive in my communication of expectations.
2. Encourage my teachers to “keep me in the loop” where our expectations do not align.
3. Ensure that there are natural consequences to attending or not attending meetings and PD, and then let the natural consequences run their course.
4. Plan for meaningful meetings and PD that don’t waste my teachers’ time or energy.
5. Take a deep breath, and keep my emotions from derailing the excellent work my teachers are doing with our students.
6. Figure out how to earn back the good-will that I lost.

I have an amazing group of teachers who, without exception, are focused on their students’ well being and achievement.

I need to celebrate!