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Asked to keep quiet at staff meetings

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by salix, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. My HT recently asked me to stop asking questions at staff meetings because 'everyone rolls their eyes' as soon as my hand goes up. I know that this isn't the case at all, indeed from time to time colleagues have even thanked me after meetings for asking a question or raising a point that they didn't feel confident enough to do. I am confident that I haven't 'hijacked' meetings or wasted time in them, but neither have I nodded my head and feigned understanding of things which I know that some colleagues do.

    She suggested that in future I sit next to her or DHT during meetings so that I can quietly ask any questions. I pointed out that it was usually herself or DHT running the meetings, so it was suggested that I write down any queries on a post it note and speak to either of them after the meeting.

    I have kept quiet since the request, but now feel my CPD is being compromised as unlike other staff members I can't ask for clarification on issues which might arise.

    I would welcome any suggestions / advice.

  2. My advice would be simple. Shut up in staff meetings. These meetings are usually intended to pass out information, not as a Q&A session. In every staff room there is always one member of staff who feels the need to clarify every tiny point, grind whatever axe they have at the time and waste the time of people who do actually understand what has been said to them. Of course you should be able to ask questions, but that should be of your line manager during meetings, or in one to one conversation with the person you need to speak to after the meeting. Schools are busy places, and many teachers do not want to listen to constant questions in staff meetings designed for information distribution. Take up your own time seeking "clarification" or further CPD.
  3. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    Yep, shurrup and let us all go will you?
  4. Thanks for the advice IrritableCommie. But staff meetings are where training happens (information distribution is for diary meetings and noticeboards) and whenever I've led CPD I've welcomed interaction - so much better than looking at a sea of blank and silent faces.
    Why did you put clarification in inverted commas? Did I use the word incorrectly?
    Oh! Once again I've shown my need to 'clarify every tiny point'!
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Don't listen to the previous two responders.
    Staff absolutely love for someone to ask all those awkward questions that they do not want to ask. In fact, if you wanted to be more proactive, you could ask staff beforehand if they had any questions that they wanted asking that you could ask on their behalf.
    Whatever you ask, there will always be someone in the room who is interested and who finds it a valuable addition to their knowledge.
    Don't worry about those staff who roll their eyes. As a professional, you need to grasp CPD opportunities wherever they may arise and it is important that the views of others do not limit those opportunities for you.
  6. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Time is short in staff meetings, even those of CPD quantity. I appreciate you might be feeling disgruntled as being asked to be quiet, but it does seem as though your school has suggested an alternative way for you to ask your questions and gain the 'clarification' you seem to need.

    Rather than taking offence, think of how you would handle similar in a classroom situation - You would probably invite said question asking 'problem' student to write their questions down and speak to you after the lesson as you simply wouldn't be able to give them the attention they are demanding.
    By writing down your queries and waiting the chances are that having time to reflect and think will result in you ultimately not needing to ask them.
  7. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    I agree with Daisy
  8. Thanks DaisysLot. You've helped to put it into perspective for a disgruntled one!
  9. Much as I hate staff meetings (WHY give us a print-out of the PPT, then spend two hours reading every single word on it aloud to us? WHY do teachers understand that chn can only listen for a certain amount of time but not get that adults have a simlar limit?) but often I don't know what the hell someone's talking about but I don't want to ask in case I look foolish. I'm grateful when somebody more confident does so.
    However, there's always someone who's loving it a bit too much and wants to garble on about what they think and what they do (almost always just agreeing with the original point of whoever's running the meeting) and inside I'm screaming SHUT UP!
    Depends which one you are! [​IMG]
  10. Full staff -meetings of any kind in school should be treated in the same way as school assemblies were, fifty years ago: as something to be endured and terminated as quickly as possible. I cannot remember a whole staff meeting in thirty five years that served any useful purpose. Usually thay are spectated SMT meetings or being read a bedtime story'.

  11. What are the HT and DHT like as leaders?
    If they're poor/bullying ones it could be that you've been asked to be quiet because you've denied them the chance to impose their wills on staff members and therefore made them look stupid. Bullying managers hate to look bad in front of others because it shows up what poor/clueless leaders they really are! I.e. They don't know what the 'CPD' is about apart from a face saving exercise (i.e. when OFSTED comes in, they can bleat about how staff have been told this or that in reponse to weaknesses identified in previous inspections, even if the reality is very different), so would have seen your innocent question asking as a challenge to their authority.
    If they're good leaders, then maybe you have been annoying, but just haven't realised it!
    So, what to do? Do exactly what they've told you to do! Say nothing in the meeting unless you're directly addressed, make a note of each question you have as you go along, save them up and then send them an e-mail with the subject 'questions about our last CPD meeting' and ask away at an appropriate time later on in the day or week.
    If they're good leaders, they'll be happy to either answer them immediately, let you know where you can find out more info or set up another training session for you and other staff members if more than one person asks them the same thing. I
    If they're bullies, you can take pride in the fact that in some small way, you've made their lives as difficult as yours, and if they squawk about you sending them constant e-mails, you can sweetly point out that you were only doing as you were told! ;-)
  12. An alternative spin: is the HT asking you to stop asking questions as this is undermning what s/he is pushing/saying? Or is the HT genuinely not wishing for you to ask additional questions?
    I have known of a HT that felt challenged by staff, to forbid questions, as a means of preventing being challenged on any issues. This was initially done under the guise of the questions having a nbegative effect on staff...
  13. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    Indeed - have certainly experienced this.
  14. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Previous HTs of mine have taken an hour to get through a god-awful powerpoint and then someone asks a questions that takes about fifteen minutes to put and damned sight longer to answer. We were all reacting the same way and wanting to scream SHUT UP SO WE CAN GET OUT OF HERE. STAY BEHIND AND ASK YOUR OWN QUESTIONS LATER.
  15. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I've had to endure staff meetings where you just want to strangle the people who ask questions because they're in love with the sound of their own voice. My current HT starts meetings promptly at 3.45 and his publicly stated aim is to be finished by 4.05 at the latest. Only once this year has he had to go into extra time, and you can guess why. Some of the rest of us conveyed our displeasure to those responsible.
  16. But Siegen81to82 why don't you just leave once the meeting has gone into extra time? Our meetings last an hour and a half regardless of questions. And people don't ask questions because the they love listening to their own voices - some people are actually interested! It's your directed time, so why wouldn't you want to try and get something from it?
  17. msbrainy, I love your advice!

    The DHT (who doesn't have a problem with questions) is a good leader, but the HT is very much like you described. I'm sure I am a bit annoying to some though ;-) Even this topic seems to have annoyed some forum users!
  18. Your post reminds me of what life was like during my first year at my previous work place. Our meetings used to be held at 8.30 every Thursday by my line manager who was ex army (you can probably guess his personality-loud, blustering and'blunt'. I.e. Rude!). My colleague who was also a manager was a 'nice guy' unless you went against what he wanted (I was unfortunate enough to offend him by a) taking over his old post as HoD and behaving like a HoD. b) Not socialising with him or running the dept in the way he wanted. His way of showing his displeasure was to pout, fiddle with his phone and criticise every idea suggested by anyone except himself for very petty reasons-btw, the colleague was in his 60s, so old enough to behave better).
    So, imagine the scene, there we all are listening to my line manager droning on loudly about what we were not doing and what we must to do 'up our game' while the time ticked down to when lessons at started at 9.00 when at about 8.55 or 8.58 every single meeting, up would come my colleague's arm to ask a question and the question would usually be a long rambling criticism about whatever it was that my line manager or the 'directors' (SLT) wanted us to do, so that we were all rushing out of the room at 9.05 while the students were standing around in the classrooms talking loudly or in a few cases, just behaving stupidly (the teaching areas were open plan, so we could all see what was happening)! At first, I wanted to strangle the pair of them but then saw the funny side and started to make bets with other colleagues about what time the colleague in question would raise his hand! I always won! ;-)
    By the way, it was funnier still when a few months later there was a restructing which resulted in the said colleague losing his management post and in the first meeting afterwards, the line manager totally ignored the colleague when he put his hand up! Needless to say, that meeting finished on time!
  19. Glad you liked my response! It's based upon insights gained from experience of working within a culture of bullying and reading the late Tim Field's excellent bully in sight book!
    I'm sure you were annoying to the HT (for the reasons that I gave in my last post) which is why the HT has told you to stop asking questions! ;-) I can't comment about other staff members! ;-)
    Btw, telling you to do/not do something 'because others have said' or there is a complaint about x', or the manager has received 'feedback' that.. without going into specific details (e.g. you're patronising) or getting annoyed when you ask for further details is another form of bullying behaviour!
    Fuuny how after I posted my original response to you, other tes users are beginning to share your perspective of events. ;-)
  20. I totally agree!
    Further to your point, a good leader should have no problem with answering questions and can speak to staff in a respectful manner if there's a practical problem in answering them immediately (because they don't need to feel undermined by them). E.g. At the start of the meeting, the HT could say, we're pushed for time today, so can only answer x number of questions but am happy to speak to you at another time/answer any e-mails if you have further questions. Alternatively, HT could have said to the OP. Thank you for showing an interest in the subject of the meeting. I'm happy to answer your questions but you have so many of them that I don't have time to deal with them all in the meeting. Could you make a list of specific issues you want clarification on and I'll/DHT or other designated person do my best to answer your questions when I'm free/give a specific time for another discussion.
    Much more helpful strategies than telling the OP not to talk in meetings anymore because other staff are peed off! They might be but they are perfectly capable of saying this to the OP themselves or bringing it up as a general AOB (meetings over run because question and answer sessions are too long)!

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