EDCI 6248 Managing Meetings


WELCOME

Welcome to "Managing School Meetings". This course will provide professional development for all school staff and school board members who wish to improve the effectiveness of the meetings they attend in whatever capacity. It's based on the belief that efficient and effective meetings in school have a positive impact on student learning.

This course is divided into four modules:

  • Purposes and practices
  • Agendas and minutes
  • Chairing meetings
  • Key skills for effective meetings

As you work your way through the modules, you will:

  • analyze how any meeting held in school contributes directly or indirectly to your students' learning
  • evaluate the effectiveness of your own contribution to meetings
  • enhance your knowledge and understanding of how you can lead and
  • manage meetings more effectively
  • develop the skills necessary to make the best use of time and other people's contributions

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PREPARATION

The Tasks in this course require you to attend a total of seven meetings, spread throughout the course. Depending on how many meetings you usually attend during your normal routine, you might like to arrange to attend a few extra meetings over the next few weeks. This will enable you to complete the course a little bit sooner. You should also start preparing now for the following tasks:

  • By Module 2: you'll need a collection of agendas and minutes from four or five meetings that have taken place in your school over the last few months. Try to collect these before you reach the start of Module 2.
  • By Module 2: you'll need to prepare an agenda and take minutes for one meeting. Before you start the module, you should have identified a suitable meeting for you to do this and have asked the meeting organizer's permission.
  • By Module 3: Task 5 requires you to chair a meeting.

If this isn't one of your normal responsibilities, ask your supervisor to recommend a meeting which you can chair. Try to have a suitable meeting identified before you reach the start of Module 3.

COURSE STRUCTURE

This is an independent study program which means your individual starting date and due date are based on your date of registration. Your instructor will advise you of this due date.

This is an interactive online course. Although you will be able to complete some of it just by sitting in front of your screen working through the online material, we will regularly ask you to reflect on what you have learned, and put ideas into practice.

  • Activities - exercises or reflections for you to carry out in front of your computer screen. Unlike a Task, there is no specific end product, and you'll always be able to complete them on your own.
  • Tasks - similar to Activities, but requiring you to put your learning into practice in a specific situation in school.
  • Forms - use to collect the information learned.
  • Resources -

    a) RESOURCE FORMS: Has PDF forms to help you answer questions in the Student Books

    b) RESOURCE FURTHER READING: Includes clarifications about the module.

    c) REFERENCE LINKS: Has links to websites referred to in the module.

    d) DEFINITIONS: Has definitions of terms used in the module.

    e) BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography is located at the bottom of this page that includes books you may check out at your local library.

  • Student Book- for you to record your reflections and send to your instructor.

At any time you may email your instructor with questions or problems you may be having with the material or the web site.

How do I get the Student Book to my instructor?

You will need to email it to your instructor. Download and save the document as described below and then you can enter your own text into the Student Book word document. Your instructor will expect a version of your Student Book as you complete each module. These can be saved by you in your files as well as being sent to your course instructor via email as an email attachment.

How do I save and name the Student Book?

You cannot type your answers on this web site. You must download your Student Book template which is a word document, by clicking on the download link below.

For your Student Book, please use a text document or a Microsoft Word document and type your text there. Title the document like this:

  • NAME OF CLASS
  • NAME OF TEACHER
  • YOUR NAME
  • DATE
  • MODULE1

[NAMEOFCLASS_TEACHERSNAME_YOURNAME_MODULENUMBER.doc ]

like this

6208_DRCLARK_JOHNDOE_MODULE1.doc

Save the Student Book on your computer and complete the assignments on the document and then email it to your teacher.

INDEX

STUDENTBOOKS

Click here to download all student books

RESOURCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

REFERENCE LINKS

Module 1: Purposes and practices

MODULE1A. Intended learning outcomes for Purposes and practices

MODULE1B. Activity 1: Reflections on your meetings at work

MODULE1C. Activity 2: Meetings at work

MODULE1D. Activity 3: Meetings at your school – an analysis (1)

MODULE1E. Activity 3: Meetings at your school – an analysis (2)

MODULE1F. Task 1: Meeting observations

MODULE1G. Task 2: Meeting content

MODULE1H. Activity 4: Presenting your findings

MODULE1I. What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 1

MODULE1J. Congratulation

Module 2: Agendas and minutes

MODULE2A. Intended learning outcomes for Agendas and minutes

MODULE2B. Activity 5: Comparing agendas (1)

MODULE2C. Activity 5: Comparing agendas (2)

MODULE2D. Activity 6: Evaluating your school’s agendas

MODULE2E. Activity 7: Comparing minutes (1)

MODULE2F. Activity 7: Comparing minutes (2)

MODULE2G. Activity 8: Evaluating your school’s minutes

MODULE2H. Task 3: Creating an agenda and taking minutes

MODULE2I. What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

MODULE2J. Congratulations

Module 3: Chairing meetings

MODULE3A. Intended learning outcomes for Chairing meetings

MODULE3B. Activity 9: Effective chairing

MODULE3C. Activity 10: Effective chairing: your response

MODULE3D. Activity 11: Choosing a chair (1)

MODULE3E. Activity 11: Choosing a chair (2)

MODULE3F. Activity 12: Responsibilities of the chair

MODULE3G. Task 4: Effective chairing

MODULE3H. Task 5: Chairing skills

MODULE3I. Discussion on Task 5

MODULE3J. Activity 13: Skills to enable effective meetings

MODULE3K. What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

MODULE3L. Congratulations

Module 4: Key skills for effective meetings

MODULE4A. Intended learning outcomes for Key skills for effective meetings

MODULE4B. Activity 14: Consolidating meeting skills

MODULE4C. Activity 15: Extension

MODULE4D. Task 6: Collecting effective meeting skills

MODULE4E. Activity 16: Team development

MODULE4F. What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 4

MODULE4G. Congratulations

Module 1: Purposes and practices

Module 1a- Intended learning outcomes for Purposes and practices

"We cannot run schools without meetings." (Marilyn Nathan, A Handbook for Headteachers)

By the end of this module you should:

  • be able to evaluate the effectiveness of meetings at your school
  • understand the relationship between the purpose and the most effective format of any particular meeting
  • know how to make a more effective contribution to meetings

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Module 1b- Activity 1: Reflections on your meetings at work

Think about some of the meetings you've attended in your school in recent months. Were they successful? Were they a waste of time? Somewhere in between?

In your Student book (1), note your initial thoughts on what makes a meeting good or bad.

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Module 1c- Activity 2: Meetings at work

Click on Resource 1: Meetings at my school, and print off the grid so you can complete it by hand.

On the grid, make a list of the different kinds of meetings that take place during a term at your school. For each meeting, think of a brief statement of its purpose(s). (For now, ignore the column marked "Chair". You'll return to this in Module 3.)

(Remember to keep this and all other Resources you fill in by hand carefully as you may need to return to them later. We suggest you keep them in a plastic wallet or loose-leaf folder and have them handy whenever you're working online.)

Then click on Resource 2 and see how your reasons differ from our suggestions. Add to or amend your list if you want to.

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Module 1d- Activity 3: Meetings at your school – an analysis (1)

Reflect on the following questions and then note your thoughts in your Student book (2).

  • Do some meetings have several purposes?
  • Is it important that everyone knows the purpose(s) of the meeting?
  • How does the purpose of the meeting determine the way in which it is set up and managed?
  • Do meetings have other functions?

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Module 1e- Activity 3: Meetings at your school – an analysis (2)

Now have a look at some further thoughts on the questions you've just considered, by clicking on each of the Resources below.

  • Do some meetings have several purposes? (Resource 3)
  • Is it important that everyone knows the purpose(s) of the meeting? (Resource 4)
  • How does the purpose of the meeting determine the way in which it is set up and managed? (Resource 5)
  • Do meetings have other functions? (Resource 6)

Now review your Student book (2) and amend or expand on your entries if you want to.

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Module 1f- Task 1: Meeting observations

The purpose of this Task is for you to evaluate your own contribution to meetings.

  1. From your diary for the next week or so, choose a meeting in which you're a participant, but not the chair.
  2. Invite a colleague whom you can rely on for constructive criticism to observe your participation in the meeting, using Resource 7: Meeting observation form (1).
  3. During the meeting, you should also evaluate your contribution, using Resource 8: Meeting observation form (2).

Arrange a time – as soon after the meeting as possible – to share your perceptions with your colleague. In your Student book (3), note down the main points discussed and record your conclusions, including your strengths as well as areas for development. Decide on ways in which you could develop your skills as a member of a meeting.

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Module 1g- Task 2: Meeting content

The purpose of this Task is to monitor and evaluate the content of meetings at your school. By observing the way meetings are conducted in practice, you can analyze how they could be made more effective.

From the school calendar for the coming fortnight (or longer if you don't attend that many meetings), choose two meetings that you normally attend but do not chair. Using Resource 9: Meeting content form, keep an unobtrusive but accurate record of the amount of time spent during the meetings on each agenda item.

Categorize each item under one of three headings:

  • administration - any aspect of the school's work that doesn't relate to teaching, learning and student achievement, or the welfare of the students or staff.
  • core business - any aspect of the school's work that is directly concerned with the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning, and student achievement and progress.
  • welfare - any aspect of the school's work that is concerned with the health, safety, physical, social, and emotional well-being of the students or staff.

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Module 1h-Activity 4: Presenting your findings

When you have completed your record, draw up an approximate table or chart (a pie chart, for example) showing the proportion of time spent on the different aspects of the school's work during each meeting.

  • What's your opinion of the picture it presents?
  • Does the time spent on each aspect reflect the school's priorities?
  • How can the balance of time be adjusted to better reflect priorities?

Note down your thoughts in your Student book (4).

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Module 1i-What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 1

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 1. By the end of this module you should:

    • be able to evaluate the effectiveness of meetings at your school
    • understand the relationship between the purpose and the most effective format of any particular meeting
    • know how to make a more effective contribution to meetings How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Use your Student book (5) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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Module 1j-Congratulations

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Module 2: Agendas and minutes

Module 2a- Intended learning outcomes for Agendas and minutes

"The essential thing is to make meetings productive." (Peter Fleming, The Art of Middle Management in Secondary Schools)

In this module we will be considering the ways in which two documents can contribute to the effectiveness of a meeting:

    • the agenda, which gives shape and purpose to
    • the meeting the minutes, which can ensure that the meeting has a lasting impact

By the end of this module you should:

    • understand how well-prepared agendas can help to make meetings effective
    • know how to prepare, and what to include in, a good agenda
    • be able to identify a method of recording the key points of a meeting in minutes that will be of real use to the school

Reminder – by now you should have:

    • collected four or five recent examples of agendas and minutes from meetings at your school
    • identified a meeting for which you can write the agenda and take the minutes, and got permission to do so

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Module 2b-Activity 5: Comparing agendas (1)

Study the two agendas in Resource 10: Agenda 1 and Resource 11: Agenda 2, reflecting on the following questions:

    • Are the purposes of the meeting made clear?
    • Are the practical arrangements stated, such as time and venue?
    • Would you know how to prepare for this meeting?
    • What would you have done differently? Note your thoughts on these questions in your Student book (6).

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Module 2c- Activity 5: Comparing agendas (2)

Now consider the evaluations on the same agendas below.

How do they differ from your opinion? Return to your Student book (6) and add to or amend your responses if necessary.

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Module 2d- Activity 6: Evaluating your school’s agendas

Collect four or five agendas that have been produced for meetings at your school in the last few months. Make your own evaluation of each one.

    • How well do they compare with the two examples you looked at in the previous activity?
    • How could they be improved?

Make a note of the key points in your Student book (7).

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Module 2e- Activity 7: Comparing minutes (1)

Study the two sample sets of minutes: Resource 14: Minutes 1 and Resource 15: Minutes 2.

While looking at the examples, reflect on the following questions:

    • How useful are they as a record of the meeting?
    • What could have been left out?
    • What else should have been included?
    • In what other ways could they be improved?

Note your answers to these questions in your Student book (8).

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Module 2f- Activity 7: Comparing minutes (2)

Now consider the evaluations on the same sets of minutes below.

How do they differ from your opinion? Return to your Student book (8) and add to or amend your entries if necessary.

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Module 2g- Activity 8: Evaluating your school’s minutes

Make a collection of minutes that have been produced for meetings at your school in the last three months. Make your own evaluation of each one.

    • How do they compare with the two examples you have evaluated in the previous activity?
    • How could they be improved?

Make a note of the key points in your Student book (9).

Module 2h- Task 3: Creating an agenda and taking minutes

Volunteer to write the agenda and take the minutes for a meeting that is due to take place soon, and then:

    • Ask colleagues for feedback on how useful they found the agenda as a preparation for the meeting.
    • Ask the colleague who chaired the meeting whether it helped them in their role as chair.
    • Ask colleagues for feedback on how useful they found your minutes as a record of the meeting.

Make a note of the key points from the feedback in your Student book (10).

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Module 2i- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 2.
By the end of this module you should:

    • understand how well-prepared agendas can help to make meetings effective
    • know how to prepare, and what to include in, a good agenda
    • be able to identify a method of recording the key points of a meeting in minutes that will be of real use to the school

How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book (11) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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Module 2j- Congratulations

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Module 3: Chairing meetings

Module 3a- Intended learning outcomes for Chairing meetings

"Chairpersons contribute to effective meetings; effective meetings contribute to effective schools." (Geoff Southworth, Managing Meetings)

By the end of this module you should:

    • understand the important role of the chair in ensuring the effectiveness of a meeting
    • know the skills and attributes of an effective chair
    • have improved your own skills in chairing meetings

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Module 3b- Activity 9: Effective chairing

The success or failure of meetings often reflects the skills of the chair, and the quality of their preparation. Look at the questions below:

    • Who should chair the meeting?
    • What are the responsibilities of the chair?
    • What are the key skills in effective chairing?

Note down your response to these questions in your Student book (12).

Then compare your answers with the extract by Marilyn Nathan, Resource 18 A checklist for effective chairing, and add to or amend your own responses in your Student book (12) if you wish.

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Module 3c- Activity 10: Effective chairing: your response

Print out your own copy of Marilyn Nathan's ideas in Resource 18. This is a detailed and wide-ranging checklist, written from the head's viewpoint.

Highlight those suggestions that seem to you to be particularly helpful, and those which you don't agree with, and note them in your Student book (13), with reasons for your response.

By doing so, you are clarifying your own values and identifying the style of chairing that is most natural for you.

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Module 3d- Activity 11: Choosing a chair (1)

Now return to one of the questions asked at the beginning of the module. Who should chair the meeting?

Find the completed list of meetings that you recorded on Resource 1: Meetings at my school.

Make a note in the last column of who chairs each of these meetings – for some it will be the senior member of staff present, but for others the chair may be rotating.

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Module 3e - Activity 11: Choosing a chair (2)

Now compare your notes with the views of other education professionals which you'll find in Resource 20. Finally, note any key points in your Student book (14).

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Module 3f - Activity 12: Responsibilities of the chair

What are the responsibilities of the chair?

When you last chaired a meeting, what did you do before, during and after it?

Note your actions in your Student book (15), under the headings: before, during and after.

Now compare your lists to Resource 21: The responsibilities of the chair and add any further points that you find useful to the headings in your Student book (15).

You should now have a comprehensive checklist to enable you to fulfill your responsibilities as chair of a meeting.

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Module 3g- Task 4: Effective chairing

The purpose of this task is to identify the characteristics of effective chairing. Next time you attend a school meeting as a member – not as the chair or minute-taker – take with you Resource 22: Effective chairing checklist (1).

Observe any actions and interventions by the chair that contribute to the effectiveness of the meeting and note them down privately.

A point of protocol: ideally, you should share what you are doing, and why, with the colleague who is chairing the meeting, and offer some feedback afterwards. This will be a matter for your professional judgment. In any case, your notes should remain confidential to yourself - and the chair, if you decide to tell them what you are doing.

Whether or not you have chosen to share your observations with the chair, you should have gained some insights into effective chairing. In your Student book (16), note down the key points that you're going to put into action next time you chair a meeting.

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Module 3h- Task 5: Chairing skills

The purpose of this task is to help you evaluate your own chairing skills.

    • This will take place next time you chair a meeting. If this isn't part of your current responsibilities, ask your supervisor if you can chair the next meeting of the team as part of your continuing professional development.
    • Invite a colleague who you can rely on for constructive comments to observe and evaluate your chairing of the meeting. Print out Resource 23: Effective chairing checklist (2) and give it to your colleague before the meeting.
    • You are also going to evaluate your own contribution, using Resource 24: Effective chairing checklist (3). Print this out too, and take it to the meeting with you.
    • Arrange a time – as soon after the meeting as possible – to share your perceptions with your colleague.

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Module 3i- Discussion on Task 5

Based on your discussion with your colleague in Task 5, and using Effective chairing checklists (2) and (3), think about ways you could develop your skills as the chair of a meeting.

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Module 3j- Activity 13: Skills to enable effective meetings

Bearing in mind the duties and responsibilities of the chair, what are the broad skills that enable the effective conduct of a meeting?

First, look at the points in Resource 25: Skills to enable effective meetings. In your Student book (17), note down in what way these skills are useful to the smooth running of a meeting.

Now you've made your own list, compare it with the list made by other educational professionals in Resource26: Key skills in chairing a meeting.

Add any points from Resource 26 you think are useful (or all of them if you agree) to your list in your Student book (17). Use the copy and paste facility to do this if you prefer.

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Module 3k- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 3.

By the end of this module you should:

    • understand the important role of the chair in ensuring the effectiveness of a meeting
    • know the skills and attributes of an effective chair
    • have improved your own skills in chairing meetings How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes?

Make your comments in your Student book (18) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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Module 3l- Congratulations

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Module 4: Key skills for effective meetings

Module 4a-Intended learning outcomes for Key skills for effective meetings

"Meetings are essential to the effective operation of a team. Sadly, far too many take place that are unproductive or even dysfunctional." (Peter Fleming, The Art of Middle Management in Secondary Schools) - Intended learning outcomes for Module 4

By the end of this module you should:

    • have consolidated what you have learned in the previous modules and highlighted any gaps in your learning
    • have improved your own skills in contributing to meetings
    • understand the key skills needed by the other members of the meeting

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Module 4b-Activity 14: Consolidating meeting skills

The first three modules of this course covered a range of skills that contribute to effective meetings. By completing the Tasks and Activities, you should have acquired a good idea of which skills you would like to develop further. Some skills can be developed through observing good role models and practicing them for yourself. For other skills, you may find it useful to do some further research. We recommend that you plot your own path through this Activity.

    1. Highlight those skills that you would like to learn more about.
    2. Go back to previous modules if there is anything you need to clarify or reassess, or if you would like to refresh your memory.

    Decide which skills you intend to develop, and then decide how and when you might observe and practice these skills. Record your thoughts in your Student book (19). You can print out the grid in Resource 27 if you want to make notes.

    You may find it useful to look again at the following Resources to facilitate your observation and practice:

    • Resource 7: Meeting observation form (1)
    • Resource 8: Meeting observation form (2)
    • Resource 9: Meeting content form (3)
    • Resource 22: Effective chairing checklist (1)
    • Resource 23: Effective chairing checklist (2)
    • Resource 24: Effective chairing checklist (3) The next Activity provides some further Resources which will help extend your knowledge.

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    Module 4c: Activity 15: Extension

    From your analysis of your own skills, and bearing in mind the nature of your own position, you may like to find out more about any of the following skills. Click on the appropriate link to find out more or to be pointed in the direction of further information.

      • Resource 28: The varying roles of the chair
      • Resource 29: An agreed code of conduct for meetings
      • Resource 30: Questions that help to develop discussion
      • Resource 31: Reaching a decision
      • Resource 32: Dealing with difficult people
      • Resource 33: Listening skills

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    Module 4d- Task 6: Collecting effective meeting skills

    During this Task, you will be considering this question:

    What skills are needed by the other members of a meeting?

      • At the next school meeting that you attend – not one where you're the chair or the minute-taker – observe the behavior and contribution of the other members.
      • Evaluate how helpful or unhelpful the members can be to the effective working of the meeting. What skills do the effective members demonstrate?
      • Use Resource 34: Behavior and contributions of other members to record your observations during the meeting and any reflective comments after it has ended.
      • To extend this task, you could also ask the chair for their perspective.

    Then note your thoughts in your Student book (20). If you regularly chair a team meeting, you could share your findings with the other members of the team. Some points for further reflection: The proportion of positive to negative behavior may reflect the quality and skills of the chair. It may also reflect other factors such as the timing of the meeting, or the comfort and appropriateness of the venue and seating arrangements. Or it could indicate the stage of the team's development.

    See Resource 35: The four stages in the development of a team for an explanation of how teams develop.

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    -MODULE4e: Activity 16: Team development

    After reading Resource 35: The four stages in the development of a team, you can analyze your own team's stage of development.

      • Does it help to explain the characteristic behavior of the team in meetings?
      • Will it help your future chairing of team meetings to take into account the team's stage of development?

    Note the key points in your Student book (21).

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    Module 4f- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 4

    When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 4. By the end of this module you should:

      • have consolidated what you have learned in the previous modules and highlighted any gaps in your learning
      • have improved your own skills in contributing to meetings
      • understand the key skills needed by the other members of the meeting

    How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make your comments in your Student book (22) - save your responses and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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    -Module 4g- Activity 16: Congratulations

    RESOURCES

    Resource 1: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

    Resource 2: Prompts for Activity 2: Meetings at my school

    Meetings in school might be about:

      • sharing information
      • sharing the vision
      • for the school
      • sharing knowledge
      • sharing expertise identifying problems and solutions
      • identifying attitudes or viewpoints
      • consultation making decisions
      • doing a task reviewing progress
      • formulating policy

    Resource 3: Do some meetings have several purposes?

    Staff briefings and working-party meetings are examples of single-purpose meetings:

      • Sharing information and carrying out a task.

    Almost certainly, your analysis will show that the majority of regular meetings will indeed have several purposes. Examples include full staff meetings, which are often used to share information, sound out opinion and occasionally to make decisions.

    Resource 4: Is it important that everyone knows the purpose(s) of the meeting?

      • The purpose of the meeting may be self-evident. For example, the Monday morning staff briefing is to pass on urgent messages and issue reminders of changes to school routine that week. If it's the only means of communicating this information, it's important that everyone is present. There needs to be a contingency arrangement to ensure that staff who are unavoidably absent from the briefing still get the information they need.
      • It's very important to make it clear whether a meeting is consultative or decision-making. Staff can feel justly aggrieved if they come to a meeting under the impression that they are going to decide policy and the head of school concludes the meeting with the words, "Thanks. I'll go away and think about it".

    Resource 5: How does the purpose of the meeting determine the way it's set up and managed?

    If the main purpose of the meeting is to give out information:

      • seating needs to be arranged so that all present can see and hear the speaker(s) but not necessarily each other
      • a visual record of key points (not dense text) on a flip chart or overhead slides will be helpful
      • a written record of key information is essential
      • all those who need to know the information should be present, but if they are unavoidably absent there should be a recognized procedure for passing it on
      • opportunities for questions, clarification and comment should be given, otherwise the meeting could have been replaced with the issue of a document

    If the main purpose of the meeting is discussion (for example, joint planning):

      • seating needs to be arranged so that all present can see and hear each other
      • there should be adequate table space for everyone to view documents or write responses, if appropriate
      • an agenda should be provided (more on this in Module 2)
      • minutes should be taken (more on this in Module 2)
      • the chairperson and the people giving the initial input should be identified and well prepared (more on this in Module 3)
      • very careful thought should be given to who is invited – this will reflect the leadership style and culture of your school, but discussion should always involve those who are going to be responsible for implementing any ensuing action

    If the main purpose of the meeting is to consult people about proposed policy and procedures:

      • the proposals should be carefully outlined, preferably with a study document issued in advance of the meeting (more on this in Module 2)
      • seating should reflect the intended pattern of discussion – for example, if you are going to snowball responses, then a café style may be most useful
      • very careful thought should be given to who is invited – this will reflect the leadership style and culture of your school, but consultation should always involve those who are going to be directly affected by any ensuing action, including pupils and parents
      • it should be very clearly stated that the meeting is purely for consultation and not for making decisions
      • writing minutes is essential, though challenging (more on this in Module
      • it may be helpful to give everyone present the chance to make a written statement of their opinion after all viewpoints have been heard

    If the purpose of the meeting – or part of the meeting – is to make decisions on policy or planned actions:

      • it should be clearly stated in the agenda that a decision is to be made
      • a fixed period for prior discussion (for example, a maximum of 30 minutes) can be helpful to focus people's minds the chair needs to consider how the decision will be reached, for example
      • by consensus or vote (there's more on this in Module 3) the decision should be clearly written, read back to the members and agreed before the meeting closes

    Of course, many meetings in school will fulfill several of these purposes. The important thing is to be clear which purpose applies to each agenda item. We will pursue this idea further in Modules 2 and 3 of this course.

    Resource 6: Do meetings have other functions? Meetings can also help to fulfill the following functions:

      • creating and maintaining team spirit or collegiality
      • allowing people to have their say
      • involving people in decision-making
      • giving a sense of ownership to policy and practice

    Resource 7: Meeting observation form (1).

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    Resource 8: Meeting observation form (2).

    Resource 9: Meeting content form,

    Resource 10: Agenda 1

    Resource 11: Agenda 2

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    Resource 12: Commentary on Agenda 1

    It may occasionally be necessary to handwrite an urgent notice, but the agenda for what is going to be a substantial meeting should be word-processed.

    Presentation gives messages about the professionalism and commitment of the author. Time and venue may be established through custom and practice, but it's helpful to be told, as a courtesy for newly-appointed staff.

    Including the year in the date can be helpful for future reference.

    It's a helpful starting point to review the minutes of the last meeting. It sets the context and acts as a check that actions have been taken and progress made.

    Skillful chairing (see Module 3) should ensure that this item does not take up the quality time of the meeting.

    Again, an update from the Principal can be a useful recurring item, but it should be confined to relevant information and kept as short as possible.

    "Admin matters" – presumably another recurring item – should be kept to a minimum.

    If this is simply the dissemination of information, a printed sheet should be distributed, preferably before the meeting.

    "Any issues?" is too broad a brief for the three core coordinators.

    If there is a substantial issue to raise, it should be clearly stated as an agenda item and a prepared presentation given.

    There is also an issue of status here – what messages are being given to the ICT or art coordinators about the importance of their role in the scheme of things?

    The one defined agenda item is a big issue.

    It should be clear who is going to lead the discussion or consultation, preferably with a briefing paper in advance of the meeting.

    Members of the meeting should know what preparation is required of them. If any decisions are to be made, these should be flagged up in the agenda.

    AOB (any other business) can be a useful way of bringing up urgent or unforeseen items, but the chair should ensure that established ground rules are followed.

    Otherwise, significant issues can be given insufficient attention or far-reaching decisions can be made in a hurry.

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    Resource 13: Commentary on Agenda 2

    This agenda may not be a perfect model, but it has some good features. Date, time and venue are all clearly stated.

    To ensure that the meeting makes best use of quality time, it is limited to one hour in total.

    A reasonable break is given between the end of school and the start of the meeting, and refreshments are provided.

    Tasks are clearly defined: chairing and taking minutes, for example. Both these teachers can come prepared.

    The meeting is in the chair's own classroom, making it easier for her to set up the room.

    The rotation of chairing and taking minutes helps to encourage the development of these skills by all staff, and reinforces collegiality.

    The time allocated to each item is clearly indicated and reflects their relative importance in the agenda.

    Minutes of the previous meeting had been circulated shortly after it took place.

    This would have reminded everyone who had undertaken actions.

    The main agenda item and the process that will be followed are clearly defined.

    A clear distinction is made between consultation and decision-making (see Module 1).

    "Any other business" is well under control.

    Items have been flagged up and the need for brevity has been emphasized. Items of information ('Bullet points') have been included in the agenda and will not need to be talked through at the meeting.

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    Resource 14: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

    Resource 15: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

    Resource 16: Commentary on Minutes 1

    There's not a lot to say about these minutes, except that they are really of very little use, yet many teams in schools 'get by' with even less of a record.

    • Essential details have been left out, for example about the changes to the syllabus and where further details can be found.
    • The point about re-organizing the resources has been completely missed.
    • The discussion may well have dwelt upon the football match, and it gives the minutes a human touch – but key points about preparing for the moderation have been omitted.
    • If the minutes had been word-processed, copies could have been printed off for all members of the team in spite of the unreliable photocopier.

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      Resource 17: Commentary on Minutes 2

      These minutes may not be quite your style, but they have several good features.

      • Even with a fairly small team that meets regularly, it is useful to record those present, so that the team leader can ensure that the absentees are fully briefed about what went on.
      • Cross-references to other meetings can help to establish and strengthen the complex network that can exist within schools.
      • A clear summary is provided of practical details, such as the arrangements for the moderation meeting.
      • The actions undertaken by individuals or groups are clearly indicated. Dates and deadlines for actions are all very clear.
      • A clear rationale is provided for agreed actions, for example the requirement to return resources so that their retrieval can be streamlined.
      • All staff are acknowledged by name for the part they will play in the team's plans.
      • Key issues for the next meeting are flagged up and proceed logically from the record of this meeting.
      • The minutes are published shortly after the meeting.
      • Although you can't tell from these minutes, the minute-taker checked out the arrangements for the moderation with Geoff before printing off the minutes. This is a good habit, and prevents later misunderstandings.

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        Resource 18: A checklist for effective chairing

        This checklist is taken from A Handbook for Headteachers (2000) by Marilyn Nathan.

        Come prepared

          • Brief yourself thoroughly on all the agenda items.
          • Know your arguments and be prepared for unexpected questions.
          • Have the procedures at your fingertips and the relevant papers or information available.

        Organize the agenda so that it will help you

          • Put the most important item at number two or three.
          • Publish the agenda and circulate any supporting papers well in advance of the meeting.
          • Sound out opinion so that you can anticipate the climate of the meeting.
          • Brief the team so that they support you and know what their roles are to be.

        Create a positive atmosphere from the start

          • Start the meeting off on the right foot by creating a relaxed, yet businesslike atmosphere.
          • Be welcoming, talk to some staff, provide tea and give people the time to have tea and biscuits.
          • Be punctual - arrive on time yourself and make sure that the meeting starts on time.

        Be businesslike

          • Keep to the agenda - never rehash the last meeting or repeat information that staff already have.
          • Keep your eye firmly on the time and move the meeting on when necessary.
          • Make sure that decisions are reached and that everyone is sure what the next step is.
          • Ensure that decisions are recorded and published. Being businesslike will help you establish control.

        Aim for goodwill - use your interpersonal skills

          • Use body language positively - smile and make eye contact.
          • Encourage participation, but do not allow monologues or arguments. Listen carefully to each contribution and show appreciation of useful suggestions.
          • Do not be dismissive of individual views - it creates resentment and loses you goodwill.
          • Think on your feet Be flexible - a key skill is to be able to think on your feet.
          • Keep an open mind - be prepared to adopt a good idea.
          • React immediately - it is important to grasp when to be firm, when a joke would help the atmosphere, when to be kind.
          • Be sensitive to the mood of the meeting so that it does not become them versus us.
          • Work towards a consensus if possible. Keep cool, calm and collected at all times, so that you stay on top of the situation.

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        Resource 20: Comments on choosing a chair

        Approach Advantages Disadvantages
        The senior member always chairs the meeting.
        • continuity from meeting to meeting
        • likely to be an experienced chair
        • has the authority to keep the meeting on task
        • is able to give an authoritative ruling
        • can lead to staleness and low expectations
        • the entrenchment of power may not be desirable
        • seniority does not always guarantee good chairing skills
        The chair rotates between some members of the meeting.
        • variety of approaches
        • more democratic
        • gives experience to more people and enables them to develop their skills
        • makes good use of staff knowledge and wisdom
        • lack of continuity from meeting to meeting
        • uneven quality of chairing
        • may not always be disinterested in reaching decisions
        The chair rotates between all members of the meeting.
        • even greater variety of approaches
        • very democratic
        • gives experience to all staff and enables them to develop their skills
        • makes best use of staff knowledge and wisdom
        • uneven quality of chairing may be problematic
        • lack of authority may lead to loss of control
        • there may be good reasons for some people not to chair

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        Resource 21: The responsibilities of the chair

        The chair…

        Before
        the meeting
        • clarifies the purpose of the meeting
        • decides who should be invited and ensures that invitations are issued in good time
        • consults with key members about date and time
        • chooses a suitable venue
        • produces and publishes the agenda, together with any briefing papers
        • familiarizes him/herself with background information about each agenda item
        • liaises with the members who are making a formal contribution - agreeing the time needed and any special requirements, such as a flip-chart
        • arranges refreshments
        • identifies and briefs the person taking minutes
        • ensures that the venue is appropriately furnished, lit and heated
        • ensures that the seating arrangements are suitable for the purpose(s) of the meeting
        • ensures that any special requirements have been met with the provision of appropriate equipment
        • ensures that there are spare copies of minutes and briefing papers
        • arrives before the start time to welcome new members and guests
        During
        the meeting
        • ensures that the meeting starts at the published time
        • welcomes new members and guests and asks them to briefly introduce themselves, if appropriate
        • reports any apologies for absence
        • reminds the meeting of any previously agreed procedures, such as an allocation of time for each item
        • reviews agreed actions from the last meeting
        • briefly highlights the purpose of each agenda item
        • initiates and controls input and discussion
        • keeps the meeting to the agreed times
        • keeps the discussion in focus
        • ensures that all views are heard
        • clarifies and summarizes the agreed actions and decisions
        • evaluates the meeting to see whether it has achieved its goals
        • closes the meeting on time unless there is general agreement that more time is needed
        • confirms the date of the next meeting and any items identified for its agenda
        • thanks everyone for attending and contributing
        After
        the meeting
        • sees that the room is left in good order
        • liaises with the person taking minutes and checks agreed actions and decisions
        • ensures that all members (including absentees) receive the minutes within a short time of the meeting
        • if appropriate, keeps a watching brief on agreed actions and their progress between meetings

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          Resource 22: Effective chairing checklist (1).

          Resource 23: Effective chairing checklist (2).

          Resource 24: Effective chairing checklist (3).

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          Resource 25: Skills to enable effective meetings

          • organizational skills
          • leadership skills
          • questioning and interventions
          • interpersonal skills
          • listening skills

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            Resource 26: Key skills in chairing a meeting

              • Organizational skills
              • Leadership skills
              • Questioning and interventions
              • Interpersonal skills
              • Listening skills (see also Resource 33 later in the course).

            Organizational skills

              • deciding the practical details in a way that is most helpful for the conduct of the meeting
              • clearly defining the purpose(s) of the meeting inviting the right people
              • providing a suitable venue and seating arrangements
              • clearly briefing all colleagues who will have a defined role, such as taking the minutes or making a presentation
              • providing all documentation in advance, including a clear and helpful agenda
              • ensuring continuity between meetings with minutes that clearly record decisions and agreed actions

            Leadership skills

              • adopting an appropriate style for the purpose of the meeting
              • fulfilling a variety of roles according to the purpose and progress of the meeting (see also Resource 28 later in the course)
              • being able to establish and maintain an agreed code of conduct throughout the meeting (see also Resource 29 later in the course)
              • keeping to the published times
              • keeping the discussion focused and relevant

            Questioning and interventions

              • asking questions that help to develop the discussion (see also Resource 30 later in the course)
              • ensuring that contributions are relevant and not over-long or repetitive
              • identifying appropriate moments to move the discussion on
              • judging the correct point to signal the end of a discussion
              • summarizing the main threads of the discussion
              • choosing the appropriate method of reaching a decision when one is needed (see also Resource 31 later in the course)
              • clarifying decisions and agreed actions

            Interpersonal skills

              • creating and maintaining a cheerful but businesslike atmosphere
              • enabling all members to make an effective contribution
              • making all members feel that their views are equally valued
              • dealing effectively with difficult people (see also Resource 32 later in the course)
              • recognizing and effectively managing potential conflict maintaining impartiality

            Listening skills (see also Resource 33 later in the course)

            • being an active listener
            • maintaining concentration throughout
            • displaying positive body language, including reasonable eye contact
            • using a facilitator to record key points publicly (for example, with a flip chart) in a complex discussion

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              Resources 27 Meeting observation form (1): CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF

              Resource 28: The varying roles of the chair

              In his book The Art of Middle Management in Secondary Schools, pp.98-99, Peter Fleming identifies four different roles that may be needed during a single meeting:

              Leadership role – setting guidelines, exercising authority, summarizing discussions, insisting on facts before opinions and countering limited vision

              Gatekeeper – protecting the weak and vulnerable, encouraging the nervous, motivating the uninterested, controlling the dominant and managing the ramblers and jokers

              Referee – keeping cool, staying neutral and managing conflict, while at the same time allowing healthy debate

              Administrative role – organizing the physical setting, keeping to time and ensuring that minutes are taken

              He also suggests that on occasions a facilitator – not the chair – can be a useful role. This is appropriate when the chair may be seen to have a vested interest in the outcome.

              The facilitator operates differently from a chair. They must be the neutral servant of the group and should not contribute or evaluate ideas. However, like the chair they must encourage all participants, protect individuals from personal attack and help the group to arrive at a consensus. Facilitators might make use of the following techniques:

                • recording ideas on a flip chart
                • brainstorming
                • boomeranging questions back to group members taking "straw polls" to see if a line is worth pursuing
                • using "negative voting" to see what options people do not agree with
                • subdividing the group for discussions
                • using open questions using rounds, where members speak in turn in response to the same question

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              Resources 29 An agreed code of conduct for meetings

              David Warwick suggests the following code of conduct in his book, Management in Education: Effective Meetings, p.15:
              chairperson controls meeting

                • all remarks addressed through the chair
                • members do not interrupt one another
                • chairperson's decision is final
                • aim is to reach consensus
                • vote taken only if this fails
                • clear majority wins the day
                • all accept the majority decision

              Resources 30 Questions that help to develop discussion

              David Warwick (Management in Education: Effective Meetings, pp. 16-17) suggests the following range of questioning that may help to develop the discussion:
              Overhead questions
              Overhead questions are asked of the group as a whole. Individual members are not embarrassed, their possible ignorance is not exposed, and everyone's attention is engaged. Using overhead questions is a good way of opening a discussion, or redirecting it when it is becoming irrelevant. For example: "Can we begin by listing the areas in which NQTs need most help?"

              Direct questions
              These are directed at a specific individual with known expertise or experience in a relevant area. Direct questions are useful for focusing discussion, bringing out 'retiring' members, or revitalizing flagging meetings, because dynamic contribution is deliberately solicited. For example: "John, I believe you have introduced a new program for NQTs in the RE department. Could you tell us about it?"

              Redirected questions
              A redirected question is a question raised by one member that the chair asks another member to answer. Redirected questions prevent the meeting deteriorating into a back-and-forth dialogue between the chair and members. They can also serve to link a series of ideas and give continuity to the discussion. For example: "Well, that's certainly an interesting point. Mary, do you think team teaching would have anything to offer more analytical subjects such as mathematics?"

              Relay questions
              These are questions to the chair that are then relayed to members. The use of relay questions prevents the chair from getting embroiled in an argument or influencing the conclusion of the group. For example: "That's an interesting point. How do the rest of us react to classroom observation?"

              Reverse questions
              A reverse question is where the chair invites the questioner to answer their own question. Reverse questions can be useful if you suspect that the questioner has an ulterior motive, or you're not sure why they are asking the question. For example: "Before I put that question to the rest of the group, what do you think are the key issues, Joan?"

              Resources 31 Reaching a decision

              In Management in Education: Effective Meetings (p. 15), David Warwick suggests the following approach to decision-making:

                • aim is to reach consensus
                • vote taken only if this fails
                • clear majority wins the day
                • all accept the majority decision

              Resources 32 Dealing with difficult people

              In The Art of Middle Management in Secondary Schools, pp. 101-102, Peter Fleming gives advice to chairs on dealing with:

                • silent and shy colleagues
                • dominant and self-opinionated colleagues
                • colleagues who clown around and distract others

              Resource 33: Listening skills

              Listening skills The way we listen to each other has a profound effect on our ability to communicate effectively and to support our colleagues. It's not enough just to listen – we need to hear what is being said and to understand what is being said. In a meeting where different opinions and perspectives are present, the chair needs to use effective listening skills to help the meeting achieve its purpose.

              Here are some general points to be aware of:

              Body language A posture that says: 'I'm not interested in your views on this' undermines your credibility. You should be interested in the view of someone in the team and your interest should be evident to them.

              Eye contact Maintaining eye contact when someone is telling you something is an effective way of demonstrating your interest.

              Interruptions Don't allow interruptions when you're listening. Ignore the phone and let admin staff know you're in a meeting and can't be interrupted.

              Good chairing requires active listening. This includes four stages:

              1. Focusing

              Assuming that you have a clear agenda that identifies the purpose of your meeting, the chair needs to stay focused on the agenda item and what people are saying about it. A good chair will manage the meeting so that everyone has an opportunity to have their say, and will listen to – and express appreciation of – every point of view. Active listening also involves analyzing whether what is being said is contributing to a better understanding of the issue or offering a realistic solution to a problem.

              2. Rephrasing

              Rephrasing can help a meeting achieve its goals. If you listen actively, you can rephrase what has been said. Expressing the key points in another way helps everyone clarify meaning, including yourself. Sometimes this can help to convey a contributor's meaning more accurately, or highlight misunderstandings.

              3. Feeding back

              Giving feedback shows you're taking the speaker seriously – you are trying to understand the message. It also shows that you're listening to the words and have absorbed them. Finally, it gives the speaker a chance to put you right if they feel you are misunderstanding. Feedback is a step on from rephrasing – having established an agreed meaning, feedback explores this meaning and offers some analysis.

              4. Refocusing

              This is the last stage of active listening, where you use the feedback to refocus your listening. Now you can reflect and begin to summarize what your colleagues are saying. If you have successfully practiced active listening, you will now be able to reflect the views around the table and people should start nodding in affirmation.

              Resource 34: Behavior and contributions of other members

              Resource 35: The four stages in the development of a team

              The theory of these stages was first put forward by D W Tuckman in "The Psychological Bulletin 63" (6, 1965) and it is summarized in Chapter 5 of School Leadership: Leadership Examined by Colin McCall and Hugh Lawlor.

              Forming
              At this stage the team is composed of individuals who will want to contribute and will also be forming opinions about the other members and particularly the team leader. Some members will be particularly keen to establish themselves, and the team leader will be noting individual characteristics and how to make the best use of them.

              Storming
              Conflicts start to emerge as different individuals test out their own perceptions of the team's purpose and their role in it. The result is usually a revision of the team's statement of purpose and the ways in which the team can work effectively. This is the stage at which the role of the team leader is crucial, to keep everyone on board without losing sight of the original purpose.

              Norming
              Everyone feels valued. The team begins to settle into ways in which it can work, and there is potentially a good level of agreement about how the objectives can be achieved.

              Performing
              There is a sense of agreement about purposes, and confidence that the team can perform the task it has been given.

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              BIBLIOGRAPHY

              Author: Fleming, P
              Title: The Art of Middle Management in Secondary Schools (2000)
              Publisher: David Fulton Publishers
              ISBN: 1853466239

              Author: McCall, C and Lawlor, H
              Title: School Leadership: Leadership Examined (2000)
              Publisher: TSO
              ISBN: 0117026123

              Author: Nathan, M
              Title: A Handbook for Headteachers (2000)
              Publisher: Kogan Page
              ISBN: 0749431792

              Author: Southworth, G
              Title: Managing Meetings in Primary File 2
              Publisher: PFP
              ISBN: 085290424X

              Author: Warwick, D
              Title: Management in Education: Effective Meetings
              Publisher: The Industrial Society
              ISBN: 085290424X

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              REFERENCES


              Name: http://www.mindtools.com
              Description: You may find some more useful tips on these pages.
              URL: http://www.mindtools.com/tmmeetng.html
              Name: Teach to Lead
              Description: Explore the site for information on staff meetings and other topics.
              URL: http://teachtolead.org/


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