We’ve all been there – at the staff meeting that could have been a post-it note or internally rolling our eyes at the latest gripe by the school moaner. Is this something that is just part of the job and we should accept it or is it something that we should inspect more critically?
“Meetings are toxic” says Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson in their book ‘REWORK’. In this book, they highlight how meetings often interrupt the important work being done by people in the workplace and the value of meetings is often quite low.
The most valuable use of a teacher’s time is lesson planning and preparing for teaching and learning – this is literally a job that never ends – however, it has the greatest impact on the students we work with (OECD, 2016).
Let’s be honest… the impact isn’t so great!
With many principals opting to use Croke Park hours as weekly or fortnightly meetings for everyone – often to ‘tick the box’ – one has to look at this and reflect on the impact it is having.
Do regular meetings for all teachers make a positive impact on teaching and learning or would that time be better spent planning, collaborating in smaller groups or attending or taking CPD courses that meets their professional development needs?
Here is a list of why meetings can be unproductive:
- The relay of information can be slow and drawn-out, as opposed to direct and efficient.
- The subject of meetings can often go off in tangents that are not relevant to all attending the meeting.
- Time-wasters. We all know the one in our school you uses meetings as a forum to share whatever is in their head that day. If you don’t know one – you might be one!
- Those leading the meeting feel like the time allocated needs to be filled, as opposed to cutting the meeting short and allowing staff to get on with important work.
There is a variation in teacher pay across education (which has been well-documented!) however according to the ASTI, casual teachers earn €40 approx. an hour. This includes holiday pay. So if we take this average as a starting point. A one-hour meeting with 10 members of teaching staff costs €400; with 20 teachers it costs €800 and with 30 staff it costs €1,200.
You get the picture!
With larger schools employing over 50 teachers, the cost of a one-hour meeting is truly staggering! With multiple meetings of low productivity value being held across a school year, the financial costs of this unproductive behaviour become increasingly worrying.
The key questions that need to be asked by school leadership (or brave teaching staff!) are:
- Is this meeting worth the hefty price tag of €400 / 600 / 1,600?
- Seriously… is it?
- Is the meeting subject relevant to everyone?
- Is there another way of distributing this information?
We know how valuable a teacher’s time is… let’s do our best to protect it!