As school leaders, we spend a large portion of our time in meetings. We have staff meetings and professional development opportunities throughout the school year. Often times, we hear complaints about how meeting and professional development time is spent; it was poorly run or not worth the time. Like us, staff members are busy and have the same need to use time wisely. Having your whole team together is rare, and is the perfect opportunity to help guide instruction and learning in your building.
What is Facilitation?
In order to make the most of your valuable time with staff, thoughtful planning and facilitation is essential. Facilitation is more than “running the meeting” and disseminating information. It is carefully intertwining content and process together to allow the voices in the room to take responsibility and ownership of the learning. Facilitators carefully watch the room, gauge the learning, and control how and when activities happen. The answer is in the room, not with the person standing at the front, and facilitators bring out those answers. When busy, rather than facilitate, leaders may begin to lecture or tell staff. Although there is, at times, need to directly instruct staff, careful facilitation helps to remain focused on the goals for the meeting.
Creating effective meetings takes time, but creates rewarding results. Looking at preparing for a meeting through the lens of a facilitator helps to ensure all facets have been accounted for, and nothing is left to chance. When preparing to facilitate, many factors contribute to creating an ideal environment for decision making and learning, such as:
- Creating purposeful engagement
- Careful selection of practices and activities
- Room setup
Facilitation is Modeling for Staff
As instructional leaders, our actions speak louder than words. If administrators ask teachers to engage students, include meaningful interaction, and create a culture for learning administrators must model that work. Staff meetings, professional learning dates, small group meetings, etc., provide the perfect opportunity to model instructional practices and facilitation strategies.
This consistent focus on high-quality instruction helps in the continued improvement and growth in instructional strategies that can be transferred to the classroom. This directly leads to success in the classroom in regards to student engagement and ownership of learning and student results.
Becoming a highly effective facilitator takes time and practice. Each leader will find areas easy to implement and other areas which need more time to develop. The key is to continue to incorporate, practice, and model the above facilitation considerations to create meaningful, engaging learning opportunities for staff.
Learn more about our upcoming Professional Development opportunities here!