Accelerating Change Through Shared Leadership
n What Are Your Major Change Initiatives?

Asperger's Syndrome
n What is Asperger's Syndrome?
n How Parents Can Work With Educators
n A Success Story
Links to External Resources

Click on the following link for the website of Solution Tree:
Click on the following link for Solution Tree's PLC website:
Click on the following link for the Center for Teacher Leadership website:

Stepping Up - Overcoming Meeting Paralysis

I don't think I know anyone who would say they actually enjoy or appreciate meetings. We dislike the fact that our time is often wasted for a variety of reasons, from waiting for latecomers, to straying off topic and not resolving the issues at hand.

With teacher leaders assuming increased responsibility for efficient team functioning, several tools can help. These include: agenda, norms and norms monitoring, a parking lot, and "group memory" devices.

In this column we will address the topic of setting and sticking to an agenda.

Developing the agenda
Ideally, the agenda should be developed collectively by the team members. Using the last five minutes of the current meeting to list topics for the next agenda is a good strategy. Another is to notify all team members that the agenda will be posted, either electronically or as a hard copy, so that items can be added by individual members between meetings. The team facilitator can also simply collect items via email, and if there is an extended period between meetings, periodically email the developing agenda to everyone.

Assign time limits
A highly-neglected strategy that can significantly improve meetings is to assign a time limit to each item. Each member who contributes an item suggests a time frame for it, and/or can confer with the facilitator about a realistic time frame.

Publish in advance
The final agenda should be published at least a day ahead of the meeting itself. Ideally it should be emailed to all members, or finalized on the electronic bulletin board or wiki (if available).

Items and time frames charted ahead of time
Before the meeting begins, I strongly suggest to meeting facilitators that they create a chart listing the agenda items - detail is not needed on the chart, just the name of the item. Be sure to write in, next to each item, the number of minutes allotted to it.

This visual reminder will provide a helpful tool for a facilitator to continually reference when working to keep a group on track. It is surprisingly more effective than just having the printed copy of the agenda in front of everyone, and also serves any team members who may have forgotten their own copy.

Beginning the meeting
Begin on time. Latecomers will soon learn that the team will not wait for them. Review the agenda, including time frames, and ask the group if there are any additional items, with the understanding that last-minute additions will go at the end, and will be addressed only if time allows. Ensure that there is consensus on the order of items and their time frames.

Fidelity to the agenda
Stick to the time frames. If someone begins to stray from the item at hand, remind him/her of the time frame for the item, and ask if s/he would like you to record the concern on the Parking Lot (more on this next time).

End on time. Any items that were not addressed roll over to become the first items on the next meeting's agenda.


  b Leading School Climate From Turmoil to Tranquility  
  b Not Just Surviving But Thriving
  b Supporting Principals to Create Shared Leadership  
b Making a Difference, One Child at a Time

Structural and Cultural Shifts to Change the Status Quo


High Fidelity, Creative Teaching

b Inspiration for the Next Generation of Leaders
b Essential Program Components: Funding Full Implementation
b Essential Program Components: The Leadership Challenge
b Professional Learning Communities for Schools in Sanctions
b Leadership is a Beach
b Come Back Kids  

All articles posted by permission of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)