I recently attended a teacher-led meeting at Upper Dublin High School and I’ve got to say, I was surprised. We sat on couches and comfortable chairs in the shape of a circle, someone brought two bags of popcorn (UD teachers REALLY Like popcorn), and because of the laid-back atmosphere, I felt more relaxed and comfortable than I thought I would.
The rules of the game go like this:
1) Teachers write questions on note-cards and put them into a large jar.
2) The Note-cards are drawn, one at a time, and asked to the group.
3) Each question gets an initial time period (say 2 minutes), which can be extended by someone saying “extension” and another saying “yes.”
4) A person volunteers to start by offering an answer to the question
5) It goes around the circle, each person answering or say “pass”
6) Answers should be concise, and there are no “objections” at that time.
7) It’s a “safe” place where no idea is too silly, stupid, or unwanted.
8) There is also a general topic that is discussed after the round-the-room talk.
During the meeting that I attended we talked about these three questions:
1) How can I make them stop talking? They are great kids – How can I focus them between tasks?
2) What are important components to put on a rubric for a speech of a personal and deep nature?
3) How do we assess “high quality” writing, as opposed to “good quality” writing?
After we went around answering these three questions to our satisfaction, and the end of our allotted time, we moved on to the large topic of the day (audits). This was more of a discussion format than the round-table answering session.
These meetings are a great way to bring current classroom issues to the discussion table, and get feedback from experienced (and inexperienced) teachers and to get immediate advice to problems that need addressing. The value of this can’t be overstated. I had a question that needed answering and I brought it to the meeting and got several ideas on how to solve the problem, how to get better at being a teacher, how to improve my craft.
Another benefit to attending teacher-led meetings like this is that it is an excellent way of modeling the collaboration that we ask of our students. This collaboration also builds rapport among teachers, which creates a environment that is conducive to teacher learning and growth. Ideas can be passed around, tested, and made better.