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What percentage of your weekly staff meetings are awful?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by WB, May 9, 2017.

  1. WB

    WB Senior commenter

    Had another awful staff meeting tonight. SLT (nice guy actually) been given the job of launching some new "big idea". All I could think of was the list of better things I could be doing.

    I sat there thinking about the last 15 years' of staff meetings in 3 schools and I reckon at least 50% were of no value at all, 35% were OK and only 15% actually genuinely worth having.

    What are your percentages?
  2. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Depends whether or not I'm sitting in one of the 'no value' ones. Then it's hard to think of a useful one.

    One of the unsung advantages of supply is that I haven't attended a meeting in months and no-one has even thought about mentioning it to me.
  3. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    What percentage of your weekly staff meetings are awful?


    sabrinakat, drek and peggylu like this.
  4. FollyFairy

    FollyFairy Occasional commenter

    The best staff meetings I've ever had are the ones when HT/SLT say they do not need to meet... worse ones, when HT thought he could win hearts and minds by taking us HOD's for coffee at Starbucks!
    drek likes this.
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    We have morning briefings but very few formal staff meetings. The ones we have are generally OK.

    I went to a few staff meetings at a school I had a long term supply post in - they were really terrible.
  6. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Only 10-20% of any school meeting I've EVER been to is of use or productive. I despise the inefficiency and ineffectual nature of workplace meetings.
  7. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    Around 50% have been awful ( the ones with biscuits)

    The rest have been truly and awesomely awful
  8. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Agree. Unproductive and inefficient. Ours is one hour every week after school. Not even one week off so far! Whether its parents evening, late evenings for this that or the other.....
    SLT make some sort of time wasting 10 point 'agenda'.
    Assistant and deputy heads make some sort of CBBC style 'motivational and aspirational' noises.
    Middle leads and Aspiring leaders of all kinds then make further mindless repetitive speeches about how the rest of us could be more this or more that -

    you know the rest of us who spend 100 percent of our timetable actually with countless groups of children sorry should I say.....collecting the data which OFSTEd encourage SLT to be so scathing about at performance and pay review meetings.

    Most of the weekly meetings is for leaders to observe and feedback to each other about leadership point 10 or is 90? About impacting whole school blah blah, contributing to whole school improvement blah blah and generally being perfect and possibly only models of today's schools.

    All it confirms for me is that the school must be in terrible shape to warrant 39 hours of this. That is of course if it sticks to the one hour.

    One head told me with great pride how she has motivational meetings running well past 7 pm. I think it was to impress me with how much effort she puts into these meetings.

    Luckily I couldn't control my expression at that point - wonder why I didn't get selected lol.

    The outcome is very tired demotivated staff the next day apart from the lead staff who may not have any teaching time the next day so they have time to prepare next week's waffle and review their current contribution to waffling time.

    How on earth did we all become educated in the dark ages before corporate meetings?
  9. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Staff meetings used to be quite useful back in the day when they followed a simple formula in primary:
    - diary for the next 7 days
    - raise any whole school pastoral issues
    - discuss any whole school activities (e.g. sports day)
    - (rarely) a spot of light training on something
    - AOB
    - finish once done, always less than an hour

    Over the last 7 years or so schools have developed the absurd philosophy that a staff meeting is:
    - a training session
    - an opportunity to tick something off the development plan
    - a time for empty evidence gathering (see above usually)
    - an opportunity for SLT to crowd fund their work
    - a meeting with no fixed end time

    Only independent schools seem to have retained the quaint notion that we teachers know what we are doing and can actually cope quite well without having some jumped up career tweeny patronising us about the latest idea that we've already seen tried and failed 3 times in the last 10 years. :mad:

    I'm still recovering from my last state school experience - never again.
  10. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    How deluded does someone have to be to think this is a good idea? Obviously hasn't had to do marking, planning and preparation for the next day's lessons in quite a long time.

    Definitely agree about the staff meetings with biscuits being a good indicator that the person running thinks no one is going to be happy about being there because it's such a waste of time. At CPD events, small bowls of chocolates or sweeties on the tables also flag up that someone feels something will be needed to keep staff awake and occupied.
  11. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    The ability to call a meeting, or to contribute to one significantly, has become a status symbol among managers, and a way of getting noticed by those aspiring to management, so the number of meetings proliferates, and their length increases. None of these are even meetings in the true sense of the word, as seldom do you get to make any contribution to them, they are just 'voice recitals'. As @drek said, how haranguing exhausted staff into a two or three hour meeting after a day at the chalk face is inspirational beats me! When I have sat in such meetings only two things were going through my mind: how I could have used the time better to do something more pressing, and how much extra work will the outcome of the meeting involve.

    In more sensible times, meetings were only called when there was a need for one. Now they are seen as something necessary for their own sake, the more of them and the longer they are, the better.
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
  12. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

  13. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    This is going up on our office wall. Love it. :D
  14. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    'Point with a stick' huh-huh-huh!!! Great line!
    drek likes this.
  15. lulu57

    lulu57 Lead commenter

    I worked for one HT who was really economical with staff meetings: they were only as long as they needed to be and items were short and pertinent.
    I worked for a different HT who made staff meetings deathly, but at least they followed a regular agenda...
    1. Go over the next week's diary.
    2. Organise any 'big events'.
    (So far so good, you're thinking...but those two points would only take 15 minutes. The next points were the ones she really looked forward to and took time over...)
    3. Moan at staff for not washing up mugs, not double-backing display work, using too many Prit sticks...and so on and so forth.
    4. Insist vehemently that staff should follow a minor point of policy very strictly (e.g. girls not wearing sandals to school). However, when you did enforce the policy and a parent complained, she would back down immediately.
    5. Give you a new initiative to follow and masses of accompanying paperwork, which would need to be done immediately (apart from her two favourites, who would be miraculously exempted).
    6. Tell you about the marvellous work done by one of her two favourites in school, ignoring the other members of staff who had also had a hand in making it happen.
    7. Remind staff about the necessity of dressing professionally and that as girls had to wear skirts in school, it was only right that female staff did too. (Yes - really! And this was the 1990s, not the 1890s. I always took great pleasure in wearing trousers to work!)
    8. Have a final moan about the appalling photocopying bill and telling us to stick to our photocopying budget (whilst reminding us that homework must be set and no - there wasn't any money for textbooks).

    So...15 minutes of useful stuff, 15 minutes of increased (pointless) workload, 5 minutes of not giving credit where credit was due and half an hour of moaning.
    How To Suck The Joy Out Of Life In 8 Easy Steps.
  16. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Those meetings where, when you enter the room the chairs are arranged in a circle. AARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

    One of our old sweats takes her laptop and sits with the screen up ostensibly taking notes. When things becomes really desperate she writes in big type, 'I have lost the will to live' so those behind are in no doubt as to her opinion of the meeting.
  17. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I once worked under a Head who by today's standards was benign and well-meaning but who suffered under the delusion that his very words were transformative and he had the habit of calling extraordinary staff meetings, both after school and at lunchtimes, to share with us whatever pearls of wisdom had popped, or been popped, into his head during the course of the day. He would even interrupt lessons by announcing these over the Tannoy, directly into the classroom. Both staff an students found these a source of both amusement and bemusement as it was often far from clear what he was talking about.
    palmtree100 and drek like this.
  18. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I had to go mining for these quotes from @jennybrice but they are a couple of the best descriptions of the pointlessness of many meetings. The George V bit stuck in my mind.

    "Also meetings for the sake of having a meeting. You know the sort of thing: a meeting is scheduled on the calendar, so, need or not, it goes ahead anyway. The person who called the meeting starts of by saying something like, "Nothing to add since last time, but I just wanted us all to have a chance of touching base."

    Meetings in which the agenda gets longer as time goes on, as old issues are constantly revisited, and never regarded as dealt with. (e.g. "Item 9, George V. Anything new? " "No. Still dead." "OK. We'll review in a month, then. Before we pass on though, I'd better give everyone a recap on what we do know."


    "The most annoying person was my last but one Head, who added items to her agenda but never crossed any off, so through a process of accretion, she ended up with an agenda as long as a toilet roll. (The George V effect). If that wasn't bad enough, she would then rearrange the order in which items were 'discussed', so everyone, including her, was completely confused, always leading to going over things twice, at least. She would then try and show us something on the IWB, which her chum at the Teachers' centre had shown her as something that 'OFSTED likes to see', which invariably didn't work, while we sat there twiddling our thumbs while she tried to sort it out.

    The idea of meetings being a chance for discussion is a joke in itself. They're just listening to one person after another bang on about things that are nothing to do with you. Longer ago, we had a DH who used to distribute different coloured pieces of paper at meetings, on which she had written, at great length, everything that she wanted to say. The first 20 minutes or so would be her instructions to us to which order she wanted us to arrange these papers. She would then read them to us, and then 'explain' what this meant. She could make four pieces of paper fill two hours, no problem!!

    Worse then this, if anything could be, were her 'UK Gold' sessions, as they came to be known. These were 'meets for the sake of meetings, when a whole staff meeting was on the calendar but she had nothing new to tell us. She simply reprised one of her previous 'meetings' under the excuse of 'reinforcement' or 'maintaining awareness'."
    drek, bonxie and Anonymity like this.
  19. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Those meetings where there is nothing of any substance to do but the SLT are terrified to cancel the meeting in case colleagues get an evening off. Such meetings often include: Now we are looking at this issue now get round in groups and discuss ......... and at the end we'll feedback to the other groups/ write our ideas on post it notes and stick them ........(up your ar *e?).
    drek, bonxie and Anonymity like this.
  20. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    The feeling of absolute despair when a spreadsheet of student results and targets is displayed which you can never read clearly, leading to the inevitable discussion of how to get lazy students to work harder.
    tosh740, drek and Compassman like this.

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