Engage your chapter or council by participating in this interactive activity
Objective: Organize and hold timely and effective meetings
In the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced schools, time is a precious commodity. We cannot afford to trifle it away with ineffective communication. Thus, a streamlined approach to student meetings is paramount.
Steps for planning an effective meeting:
- Plan out council or chapter meetings two weeks in advance. This will give all necessary personnel and students ample time to place the meeting in their schedule.
- Identify upcoming campus events.
- Brainstorm about who needs to attend the meeting. Does an upcoming event involve someone outside your usual group? Attendees may include:
- School counselors
- School board members
- School nurse
- Send email reminders about an upcoming meeting to students and pertinent staff.
- Announce meeting information via the school public address system.
- Prepare students or officers for their role in the meeting.Despite your best planning efforts, some members may not be able to attend the meeting. This requires a proactive approach by the adviser. Planning a morning and an afternoon meeting on the same day can alleviate these challenges. If a student cannot attend one, hopefully he or she can attend the other.
Holding an effective meeting:
- Make your objective well defined. Your meeting should have a specific and distinct purpose.
- Have an agenda and stick to it! This will ensure the meeting runs smoothly and consistently. Consider making one of your members a timekeeper to guarantee the meeting stays on track.
- When the time comes, let students take the lead. Step back and allow each Honor Society or student council member to conduct his or her part of the meeting. An important part of the leadership development process is giving students the opportunity to do just that—lead!
- Give anyone speaking-student or adult-your complete attention and respect, and ensure each meeting attendee does the same. A meeting will quickly lose its efficiency if people are staring at their phones or daydreaming the whole time instead of paying attention. Conversely, if one person is monopolizing the conversation, step in and politely explain that while that person’s contribution is appreciated, input is needed from others before a decision can be made.
- Consistency is key. Hold the meeting in the same location each time, if possible. Fixed meeting times, such as every Tuesday at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., can also be of value. Meetings will soon become habit, and this will help keep attendance high and confusion low.
- Keep it brief. Sixty minutes is roughly the maximum amount of time that any person will remain truly engaged, and even that is pushing it with a middle or high school audience.
- Schedule the next meeting with students before adjourning the current one. This allows students time to plan and eliminate any barriers to participation.
- Follow up. It’s possible that not everyone took away the same interpretation of what took place during the meeting. Email students a rundown that highlights who was in attendance, what was accomplished, upcoming deadlines, and action items.
Effective meetings happen on purpose. They are not random, but rather well planned and diligently executed. Revisit your current meeting processes with these items in mind to ensure your future meetings are both valuable and productive.
James J. Scivally is a special education teacher and National Honor Society adviser at Seagoville High School in Dallas, TX.