Thursday, November 28, 2013

5 Steps to Wrapping Up Collaborative Meetings

The countdown has begun for the number of days until Christmas. We are making our list, checking them twice, so we can fill up the Christmas tree and make everything nice. While we know how many days there are until Christmas, some of us will invariably be stressed out because there won't be enough time to buy all the presents and get them wrapped in time for Christmas.

The real issue is not that we don't have enough time to buy and wrap our presents. After all, we have known for 365 days when Christmas Day will be here. The real issue is that we waste too much time by doing things that detract our focus from getting ready for Christmas.

When it comes to collaboration or working with others, the same principle applies. We know when and how much time our team has to meet together every week.  We know that there are specific outcomes that must occur in order for our teams to be effective. Some teams get it all in and wrap up the meeting like a beautiful little package with a perfect little bow, while other teams can't seem to find the tape or the scissors.  Even worse, they don't even know what present they should be wrapping.  If they finally wrap the present, they forget who the present was for; therefore, they don't know whose name to write on the name tag.


Teams waste time not because they can't finish something, but because they can't figure out where to start. How do teams begin the process of wrapping up their collaboration in a focused, quick, and efficient manner?

Steps to Wrap Up Collaborative Meetings

1.  Start with the Present
If you haven't picked out a gift, there's not much point in trying to wrap it up. Teams need a focus for coming together, and they need to stick to that focus throughout the meeting. The present boils down to this idea:  "What is the most important thing we expect all kids to learn?"

2.  Measure out your Time
If you don't measure out your paper, chances are you won't have enough paper to wrap your gift. The same principle goes with allocating time. How much time does the team need to focus on the most important issue? Teams must create an agenda and designate enough time to align everyone's understanding of the standard.  If the team sets aside time, chances are they'll have enough time to accomplish the meeting's objective. 

3. Cut and Tape
Once teams have an agenda, it's time to get to work. The cutting and taping of the paper represents the team focusing all dialogue on the most critical learning standard with the following questions:

  • What does the standard look like when kids master it?
  • What prerequisite skills do kids need to begin learning the standard?
  • What questions, activities and language will we use to get them to mastery?
  • How will we know when students have mastered the standard?
  • When kids struggle, how will we remediate immediately?
  • When kids master the learning standard, how will we extend and enrich them?

4. Inspect and Fix
Once you have wrapped your present, it is important to inspect it to make sure that it looks nice and that the present is completely covered. If something is wrong, the present needs to be fixed. The same idea applies to collaborative teams. If there are issues that are wasting the team's time, the team needs to work together to identify those inefficient practices, repair them or remove them all together. 

5.  Repeat and Reflect
The great thing about wrapping gifts is that the more gifts you wrap, the better you get at wrapping. Teams are no different. They have to practice the process of working together over and over to get better.  Leaders need to remind teams that it takes time to get better at maximizing their time as well as creating highly effective core instruction. 

The Purpose of Wrapping Up Meetings

Wrapping up collaborative meetings is not about ending them.  It is about the entire process of starting them, managing the clock wisely, and ensuring that every minute is maximized. Teams that are the best at wrapping up meetings are the ones that capitalize on their time together to generate outstanding products.  These products deliver results because the team believes in them and most importantly in one another.

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