Steal My Weekly Team Meeting Agenda
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You're listening to the School Leadership Reimagined Podcast, episode number nineteen.
Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...
where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson.
Hey Builders, welcome to episode 19 of the School Leadership Reimagined podcast. I’m your host, Robyn Jackson and today, I’m going to do something special for you. I’m going to let you steal my team meeting agenda. This is the exact agenda I use with my own team during our weekly meetings and it’s the agenda I teach to my clients to help them have meetings that are more efficient, and that help everyone be more accountable.
Okay, tell me something.
How many of you LOVE going to meetings?
Go ahead, raise your hand if you love to sit in a meeting.
I didn’t think so.
That’s because most meetings are quite frankly a waste of time.
We don’t MEAN to waste people’s time when we have a meeting. We actually have good intentions. Things we need to discuss. Items that we need to address. Issues that need resolving.
So why is it that most meetings are such a waste of time?
Because although we sit there and discuss things, very rarely do we actually RESOLVE anything.
In other words, most meetings don’t result in ACTION.
That’s why today, I want to share with you a meeting agenda I use to help my team and I take action. It also has the added benefit of helping keep every at the meeting accountable to what we commit to doing in the meeting.
This is an agenda that you can use for your weekly leadership team meeting. But it also works really well for teacher team meetings as well. In fact, it’s the best meeting format I’ve seen for helping you identify and talk about what’s really important.
But before I dive in, I want to first remind you about Builder’s Lab 2019...
During Builder’s Lab 2019 I’m not only going to be sharing this accountable agenda, I’m also going to show you how to set up your entire meeting rhythm so that you are meeting about the right things with the right frequency and actually achieving your school goals.
That’s just a tiny part of what we’re doing at Builder’s Lab 2019. For 3 days, we’ll work together to help you identify your school goals, map out your own unique success path to achieving your school goals, and learn how to use the 4 Disciplines of Buildership -- feedback, teacher support, accountability and culture to help you achieve your goals.
And here’s the best part, after you’ve learned all of that, we’re going to spend an entire afternoon taking everything that you’ve learned and mapping out a 90-day plan to achieving your goals.
I mean think about it. Most conferences give you a ton of information (if you’re lucky) and you go back to school with binders full of handouts and the best of intentions to implement what you’ve learned, only to be slammed with stuff once you get home and you never actually get a chance to apply what you learned.
But that won’t happen at Builder’s Lab. Everything you learn will be immediately applicable. We’re not going to cover a bunch of fluff. You’re going to come with Builder’s Lab with your goals and you’ll leave with a step by step action plan to achieve your goals plus all the tools you’ll need to make it happen.
When you return home to your school, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
Right now if you’re listening to this podcast near the air date, you can take advantage of the early bird special and save $100 off the ticket price. Just go to https://mindstepsinc.com/builders-lab/ to learn more about Builder’s Lab and take advantage of the early bird price.
I need to warn you that Builder’s Lab is already 25% sold so you need to act fast. Again, visit https://mindstepsinc.com/builders-lab/ to learn more and save $100 off the ticket price.
Okay, let’s dive in...
First, I should tell you that I didn’t make up this agenda format myself. I stole it from Geno Wickman the author of the book Traction a few years ago. I tell you that so that you won’t feel bad about stealing the agenda from me. After all, I stole it from Geno.
Anyway, I’ve modified it slightly to make it work for a school situation. So what I am going to do is go through each of the parts of the agenda and explain what they are and why they work. I will also tell you how to adjust it for the leadership team or for a teacher team. At the end of this episode, I’ll share with you a link you can use to download the entire agenda and use it with your own teams. Deal?
Okay, the agenda starts with a segue.
This is a chance to help everyone shift their focus from whatever they were thinking about before the meeting to the meeting. Rather than engaging in a few minutes of idle chit chat, what you do instead is you have everyone go around the circle and share a win they had since the last meeting.
This does several things. First, it helps everyone ease into the meeting. Second it gets everyone thinking about and focusing on how they are individually progressing towards your team goals. Third, and I think this is most important, it starts the meeting off on the right foot. We almost never spend time thinking about wins and by starting the meeting focused on wins before you start attacking challenges, it gets everyone in the right frame of mind. You’d be surprised at how hard people find it to come up with a good win for each meeting but this is really important. Don’t skip it. This part of the meeting should take about 5 minutes.
Next, you are going to spend the next five minutes going over your team scorecard.
Your team scorecard is where you Scorecard: Review the 5-15 most important numbers in your school to determine whether you are on track. For instance, your SIP plan this year may be about increasing student attendance so each week, you need to review your attendance numbers. Or perhaps you are focusing on reading proficiency this year so you need to track how students are making progress in each grade level. Or perhaps your focus is on student suspensions. Each week you need to review the suspension number.
The point is that each week you need to be looking at the 5-15 key numbers that tell you how you are progressing towards your goals. And don’t just look at lagging numbers either. Try to identify a few leading indicators that let you know early on that you either are or are not making progress towards your school goals.
During the meeting you are just going to go through the numbers. If a number indicates that you are on track, great. Any number that indicates an area where you are not on track goes onto the issues list. This is not the time to discuss the numbers. Simply indicate whether or not you are on track.
Okay, after you do a quick review of the numbers it’s time to do a quick review of the key initiatives you are working on. So next, you’re going to go around the room and each person briefly reports whether the initiative that he or she is in charge of is either on track or off track. No discussion. If an initiative is on track (meaning the owner feels that he or she will accomplish it by the end of the quarter) move to the next initiative. If an initiative is off track, it goes on the issues list. This part of the meeting should take no longer than 10 minutes.
After the review, the next step is to briefly go over any Student/Teacher Headlines.
This is where you and your team briefly share any teacher or student news for the week. For example, someone might share that “Mrs. Flintstone is engaged!” or “Bart Simpson’s parents are getting a divorce so keep an eye out on him.” The good news is a time to celebrate. Bad news is either FYI or, if it’s serious and will impact an initiative, it may need to go on the issues list. This should take about 5 minutes.
Next, it’s time to move to the To Do List.
This is where you review all the to-do’s from last week. Quickly go through the list and either mark it “done” or “undone.” If it is done, strike it from the list. If it is undone, leave it on the list. Here’s the caveat. No “to do” should remain on the list for more than 2 weeks. So this is a great way to track everything and hold everyone accountable for getting their “to do’s” done. Any “to do” that is on the “to do” list for more than 2 weeks straight goes on the issues list to discuss further. This part of the meeting should take no longer than 5 minutes.
Now we are getting to the heart of the meeting.
The Issues List: This is where you will spend the bulk of your meeting time (at least 45 minutes). You have kept a running list of issues to discuss so now it’s time to go through that list together and prioritize your issues by determine the top 3. This is really important. Think about which issues is most urgent and most important. prioritize the urgent and important issues first, followed by the important but not urgent issues. Once you have your top 3 issues, go to work on issue number one and work on it alone until it is solved. Any plan of attack generated from the discussion goes on the To do list and is assigned an owner.
You may spend the meeting just tackling issue number one and that’s okay. But, you cannot ajourn the meeting until you have resolved the issue. Once you’ve resolved the first issue, if there is time, you can move on to the next issue and so on until the meeting is over.
Why is this so important? Well, most meetings are a lot of talk but they never resolve anything. By prioritizing your issues and then working on one issue at a time until it’s resolved, you actually come out of every meeting with your top issues resolved.
Now in order to get your issue resolved you can’t just sit around and discuss the issue.
You need to follow a specific protocol called IDS which stands for Identify, Discuss, and Solve.
First you need to Identify the real issue. That means that you are going to spend the first part of your discussion actually trying to get to the root of the problem. That way, you can make sure that you are solving the right problem.
All too often I see teams jumping to a solution before they truly understand the problem. Then they wonder why their solutions don’t work. It’s because they are solving the wrong problem.
So spend some time here. Really dig down and make sure that everyone agrees on the problem and understands the real issue.
Next, once you’ve determined the root of the problem, you can discuss it and come up with some solutions.
Finally determine what solution you are going to pursue to solve the problem. That way you walk out of your meeting with a plan of action designed to actually resolve the issue.
There’s one more step to your meeting agenda and that’s to recap the to-do list and make sure that each action item has an owner. In other words, you’ve worked on your most pressing issues and identified what you will do to solve them. Before you adjourn the meeting, you need to go through the list of action items you’ve created one more time and make sure that each action item has a due date and a person responsible. You need to decide who will do what by when.
Once you’ve decided what actions you will take by when, discuss whether any messages need to communicated to other stakeholders based on the decisions made in your meeting. For instance, you may have decided to change the bell schedule next Friday. You need to let teachers know. Or perhaps you decided to adjust your attendance procedures to make processing tardy students more streamlined. You need to let students and parents know. Again, decide who will do what by when and record those as a part of the list of action items.
Lastly, have everyone rate the meeting at the end on a scale of 1-10. The goal should be an 8 or better for each meeting. If you score lower than that, ask for suggestions about how you can improve things next time.
And that’s it.
That’s the accountable weekly meeting agenda.
Let me give you a couple of examples of how you can use this meeting agenda.
First, let’s say that you are a part of a grade level team that meets weekly to discuss students. You can use this meeting agenda to help you keep track of students and to make sure that you are working towards your team goals.
So you would start the meeting with your individual wins for the week. Did you plan an amazing lesson? Brag about it. Were you able to finally get through to a student? Celebrate your win! Everyone goes around and shares at least one personal win they’ve had for the week.
Then you quickly go through your team scorecard and look at the benchmark testing data as well as the homework completion data and attendance data for the last week. You see that your homework completion number is going down so you add homework completion to the issues list. You also notice that students are not hitting some of the math benchmarks. Again, you add math to the issues list.
Next you go through the headlines and quickly share a few student highlights, make any announcements, and share that 2 teachers are going to be out on Friday so you will need to check in with their subs in case they need support. You also raise any red flags for any students who are not doing well and if they are in danger, add their names to the issues list.
After that, you quickly go through your to do’s from the prior meeting and check them off. One team member didn’t complete his to do’s for the prior week so you add them back to the list for the coming week.
Okay, now it’s time to dive into the meat of the meeting -- the issues list. On your list currently are several students who are showing some behavior issues and who are starting to fail their classes, a team field trip coming up in 3 weeks, upcoming benchmark testing, and a rise in student tardies especially in the afternoon after lunch.
After some discussion you decide that the behavior issues are the most urgent and important because if you can nip them in the bud early, you can get those students back on track. After that, you need to talk about the upcoming benchmark assessments. Based on the to do list, the field trip preparations seem to be under control so there is nothing urgent to discuss with that so you skip it for this meeting. And, the tardies are becoming an issue so you’ll discuss them if you have time. If not, you’ll continue to monitor them as a group and they stay on the issues list to potentially discuss at the next meeting.
So you tackle the behavior issues first. You start by discussing what you as a team are seeing with students. Then you ask if it’s just a few students or are the issues more pervasive. After some discussion, you realize that the behavior issues are really isolated to just a few students. So after some discussion, you decide as a team to contact the parents and adjust the students’ schedules so that they are not in the same classes and have the guidance counselor follow up with the students. If that doesn’t work, you’ll get the administration involved. So one of you takes the lead on contacting the parents and potentially scheduling a parent conference and putting it on the team google calendar. Another team member agrees to contact the guidance counselor and have her follow up with the students. A third team member volunteers to figure out a few suggested schedule changes and work with the guidance office to get the students new schedules. All of this goes on the to do list.
You check the clock and realize that you still have about 15 minutes so you decide to tackle the next issue on the list -- the tardies. As a team you look at the tardy data and determine that most of the tardies happen as students are returning from lunch or p.e. After a bit of brainstorming, you decide that you will implement a different procedure for the lunch room where teachers will walk their students to their next class. The team leader agrees to speak with the PE teacher and find out why students may be coming to class tardy and report back at the next meeting.
By this time, you only have a few minutes left so you review the to dos and make sure that each to do has an owner and a deadline. Then you quickly go around the room and rate the meeting. The average group rating is 9 so you’re good and you adjourn.
Every week, you go through the same routine and because your agenda becomes your minutes, you have a running record of your team commitments, the issues you are tackling, and who is pulling their weight and who is slacking on their commitments.
Now if you are a leadership team, the meeting agenda looks very similar to what I’ve just described. Sure your issues may be a little different but you are going to follow the same agenda tackling your most important issues first and resolving at least one issue per meeting.
I’m telling you it’s a powerful way to keep your entire team focused on what matters most and make sure that you are actually being productive and accountable in your team meetings.
Okay, now before we go,
Now before we go, I want to remind you about today’s sponsor Builder’s Lab 2019. Right now we’re doing an early bird special where you can save $100 off the ticket price. Just go to https://mindstepsinc.com/builders-lab/ to learn more.
And as I do almost every week, I want to connect with you on LinkedIn. Would you please find me at Robyn Jackson on Linked In and let’s connect? I’d love for us to be connected.
Next time we’re going to tackle a huge obstacle many school leaders face -- Meetings. If you are sick and tired of unproductive meetings that drag on and on and everyone sits around celebrating problems but nothing gets resolved by the end of the meeting. Or, if you make commitments as a team in the meeting and then nobody follows up and does anything once the meeting is over. Well this is the episode for you. I’m going to share with you the most powerful way to run a meeting and you’re going to learn to run all of your own meetings #likeabuilder.
Bye for now. See you next time.
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