- Technology can be an effective tool to engage teachers and improve the nature and productivity of faculty meetings, Michael Gaskell, principal of Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, New Jersey, writes for eSchool News.
- He developed a professional learning community model, centered on subject matter, and uses Google Forms to elicit teachers' input, allowing them to either select the topic for the meeting or suggest one of their own and generate creative new ideas. He also pre-records necessary school and district announcements to allow more time for teacher discussion of the chosen topics.
- Since implementation of the changes, teachers have become more engaged, they have increased their attendance at meetings and they are reporting significantly higher satisfaction rates with the level of professional development offered at the school.
Just as teachers are using technology to help engage students in the classroom, principals and district leaders can use technology to engage faculty members and enhance meetings and professional development opportunities. For instance, pre-recording information and announcements for display on computers and tablets before meetings begin can save time for leaders, especially if teachers are breaking up into multiple professional learning communities. District leaders may also want to create a message that can be distributed to all schools for use during this time.
Using technology to elicit teacher input concerning potential topics and feedback about discussions also enhances the process and allows teachers a larger voice – a factor that can increase engagement and productivity because the meetings better meet teacher needs. Teachers want to be treated as the professionals they are. By allowing these faculty meetings to be teacher-led, principals are empowering their teachers, helping them develop leadership skills, and focusing in on areas that need the most improvement in order to increase student achievement. Increasing the level of teacher input is an element all schools can use, regardless of their level of access to technology.
The use of the flipped staff meeting is another way schools can improve the experience. In this model, teachers receive a recorded message in advance of the staff meeting. This message contains important announcements and information and other items that can help prepare teachers for the discussion at the staff meeting.
“By changing the way we deliver our staff meetings, we were able to gain 25 hours of time," Amy Arbogash, a director of technology and personalized learning for the Verona Area School District in Wisconsin, wrote in a TeachThought article. With the additional time, the district has implemented programs such as Google Apps for Education, Schoology, 1:1 classroom iPads and flipped and blended learning.