Flip Your Meetings!

The other day I was playing around online while waiting to board a plane.  I was finger-surfing on my iPad for articles on “flipping the classroom.” There’s been a lot of buzz about flipping the classroom, including here on The Bubbly Professor and lots of other blogs. The flipped classroom is such a great concept for teaching that it’s become my newest endeavor to read everything I can on the subject.

About ten minutes into my web surfing session I read a statement that literally changed my life. How often does that happen?

The statement was part of the introduction to what appeared to be a great article on flipping the classroom.  I say “appeared to be a great article” because I never read it.  This one sentence was so powerful I turned off the iPad, pulled out one of my handy-dandy yellow pads that I do all my “real” work on, and started writing.  My work life was forever changed!

Here is what I read, as close as I can remember:  “Do you leave meetings with more work to do than when the meeting began?”  Oh yes I do! Not only do I leave meetings with an elongated list of things to do, so does every poor soul who has ever attended a meeting that I was in charge of.

One simple sentence was to become my personal life-changing moment.  If you are the author of this sentence, please contact me.  I want to read the rest of your article.  I want to give you credit for this idea.  Most importantly, I want to worship at your feet for the rest of my life.

My True Story of Meeting-Flipping 

About two months ago, I had a faculty meeting.  My ten or so extremely dedicated  faculty members and I gathered around a round table and I led what I thought was a productive meeting.  The agenda had been distributed in advance, we had a lot of things to go over, and we had a lively discussion. Success (or so I thought)!

In my old (pre life-changing moment) way of leading meetings, it was a success. But in my new way of thinking….it was a waste of time!!!  Here’s why:  one of the items on my agenda was this:  Annual Faculty Development plans due by April 1!

What had actually happened during my “successful” meeting?  I distributed some information that could have been done just as easily (and much faster) via email, and everyone present left my meeting with “one more thing do.” And for the record, how many faculty development plans were turned in by April 1?  Zero!!!

The New Meeting World Order

So here’s how I led the next faculty meeting.  I sent out a meeting invitation that read as follows: “We will complete your annual faculty development plan at this meeting.  Please start thinking about what you would like to do this coming year in order to improve your teaching ability.  This can include conferences, seminars, courses you’d like to take, professional certifications you’d like to achieve or anything else you can think of.  See you next Friday!”

Faculty Development Friday

When the meeting came around, we met in the same conference room around the same table as we always had before.  But this time, when our hour was up, no one left the room groaning that they had one more thing to accomplish in an already busy schedule.  Instead,  everyone had a completed Annual Faculty Devlopment Plan.  It was fun, and it was easy. 

To start the meeting, I gave everyone a blank copy of our faculty development plan template.  I had everyone fill in their name, anniversary dates, employee Id numbers, all that stuff.  Then, we went down the list of items to fill out.

First item – Professional Certification:  “What professional certifications are you interested in pursing this year?  Who wants to work towards their CEC? Great, what are the steps.  Study, take the practice tests, take the written test, take the practical exam, complete the final application packet and mail off. If you are interested in the CEC write these steps down in section one and fill in the completion dates that will work for you.  Who would like to pursue a CSW?  Great, what are the steps?  Get a study guide, study, take the  practice tests, review with your mentor, take the written exam.  If you would like to pursue a CSW, write all that down in section one and fill in the dates that work for you.”  And so on, and so on…in about 15 minutes we had all finished section one.

Next section – Training offered Internally:  “Everyone write these down…Sticky Teaching on May 15, Brain Rules for Teachers on June 12, Bloom’s Taxonomy on July 25 (etc, etc.). These are the faculty development sessions that I will conduct in house.  You need to try to attend at least six of these and when you do, make sure to note on your faculty development form three take-aways from each session that you plan to use in your teaching in the coming year.”  Ten minutes later…section two done!

Next section – Training Obtained Externally: “Here’s a list of classes and workshops offered on-line.  Two have already been budgeted for each of you.  Pick the two that most interest you and write them on your form. If you have a conference or convention in mind that you’d like to attend, write it down and I will let you know if we can budget for it by the end of the month.” Twelve minutes later, section three done.!

Final section – Classroom Observations:  “Everyone write down the name of the class you are teaching this semester that you would like me to visit in order to conduct a classroom observation.  Same thing for next semester.  When the Fall and Winter schedule comes out, be sure and update your plan and let me know which class you’d like me to visit.”  Ten minutes later, we’re done.

One hour from start to finish and everyone has their faculty development plan done.  Everyone had the opportunity to benefit from the ideas and challenges of their colleagues.  Everyone is excited about the opportunity to improve their teaching skills. Everyone has a new professional certification goal in mind. Best of all, everyone – including me – gets to check one big giant thing off of their big giant “to do” list.

What else can I say? I’m a meeting flipper for life.  And if this was your idea….make yourself known!

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

6 Responses to Flip Your Meetings!

  1. Love it. Thanks for this. I’ve always hated meetings—they’re usually a big time waster. I’ll definitely use this with my students. I also like your punchy writing style.

  2. It’s me again! Our work keeps intersecting! I don’t know if you were referring the article and blog post I did related to flipped meetings, but I can share them here:

    Flipping the Agenda:

    3 Tips to Help You Flip (mentions flipping meetings)

    Click to access 3-Quick-Tips-to-Help-You-Flip1.pdf

    Thanks for sharing this post!

    • bubblyprof says:

      Hi Dr. Honeycutt – I had a feeling it was you, but couldn’t find the exact site that I had read! Thanks so much for sharing these links. I love the idea of flipped meetings, and let me tell everybody out there: you won’t believe how well this technique works. Never again will you hear grumblings (or roars) of “I hate meetings.” If you flip your meetings, people will actually get some work accomplished at your meetings and dare I say will LOVE meetings! Now, that’s a FLIP!!!

      Thanks again to Dr. Barbi Honeycutt…the meeting genius!

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