We teachers are always being observed so I decided to turn the table and observe Mr. Principal during our recent faculty conference. I think if more of us did things like this, these conferences might be more meaningful, productive and engaging.
May 3, 2010
Mr. Principal was at the front of the room greeting a very tired group of people with enthusiasm, making them feel welcome and making them feel their attendance was appreciated. He waited a few minutes until everyone was seated and then began the presentation. Several minutes into the presentation, the pledge began and he respectfully stopped talking and asked people to rise. He must be commended for not reprimanding people who did not stand. He waited until the announcements were over to begin again.
Mr. Principal began by discussing the upcoming regents and explaining the difference between teaching to the test, which he does not believe in, and test prep, which he is strongly in favor of. He emphasized how important it is for the students to be preparing constantly and to not wait until the last minute for studying to begin. He then discussed what we, as educators, could do to promote positive regents results, even if we were not teaching a course that terminated in a regents.
Mr. Principal then broke us up into smaller groups, smartly using the tables where we were seated so no tired individual had to get up and move. Each table was given a poster size sheet of paper and a marker and told to come up with 5 ways to help our students. The tables had teachers of various disciplines and the discussions were across content area.
After 8 minutes, Mr. Principal brought the groups back together and had one member of each group come to the front and share their group's conclusions with everyone present. Many good ideas were discussed. Guidance counselors and physical education teachers, teachers usually not involved in regents prep provided valuable ways they could be of assistance. All presenters were praised and thanked.
Mr. Principal summarized all the ideas, mentioned the end term party and then thanked everyone for participating before dismissing the meeting, almost exactly on time.
The meeting was well planned and thought out. The discussion was entertaining as well as thought provoking and informative. Mr. Principal should be commended for engaging a group of people that did not want to be engaged.
1. Try to encourage different people to speak, instead of the usual group. This is the only way to know how well everyone in the room understands what has been going on.
2. Try to manage time a little better to end the discussion promptly at the end of the period.
3. Provide refreshments.
4. Try attaching a note to the bottom of one chair giving the person in that seat immunity from the next faculty conference and then surprise the staff with this announcement as they look under their seat..
Overall, Mr. Principal presented a well thought out conference. His objectives were clear, his development precise. He used various techniques to keep the group moving. A summary was given at the end. This meeting is rated satisfactory.
(And this is exactly how the meeting went down.)