Over the last few weeks I have been coaching another teacher who is new to the role of SRC Teacher Adviser. They have gone about the process of recruiting their team and are now trying to get their student council functioning like a well-oiled machine. Meetings play an important part in helping that machine to function. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your meetings with your Student Council.
BEFORE THE MEETING:
Organise a chairperson – The role of the chairperson is to direct the flow of the conversation. Your SRC may have a set student who chairs each meeting or may decide to rotate the chairperson to give all students the experience.
Develop the agenda – An agenda outlines what is going to be discussed during the meeting and in what order. As the SRC Teacher Adviser, I like to develop the agenda in consultation with the student\s who will be chairing the meeting. This allows me to ‘brief’ these students on some topics prior the meeting so they are aware of any background information that they can share when they are running the meeting. (The less talking I can do as the Teacher Adviser; the better!)
Confirm the date\time\location – You may need to let others know about your meeting in advance. Depending on your school, you may also need to book the room you are using to hold your meeting.
Prepare the materials – Make sure copies of the agenda (and previous meeting minutes) are available for all attendees. Depending on the number of people attending the meeting, you may like to have a sign-in sheet to assist you in taking attendance.
As a person attending a meeting, it’s also important that you come prepared. Bring along any information, facts or details based on topics on the agenda. Read through the previous meeting minutes so you are aware of what was discussed and any tasks you needed to undertake have been completed.
DURING THE MEETING:
Start the Meeting – Make sure the meeting starts on time. Both students and teachers are busy people with lots of other commitments. Starting the meeting on time values those who have turned up on time and helps to ensure the meeting finishes at the agreed time.
It is the role of the chairperson to start the meeting. Having some formal process in place for starting the meeting makes it easy for the chair to get the attention of those present. For example, the chairperson may have a gavel or gong that they sound to get everyone’s attention. The chair then like to call for order and ‘declare the meeting’ open.
Keep the meeting moving – Again it is the role of chairperson to help keep the conversation flowing throughout the meeting and manage the process of making decisions. A useful format for facilitating discussion and decisions is:
- Present the proposal\idea and provide information
- Opportunity to ask questions
- Next Action
Record the discussion and the decisions – that takes place at the meeting. This document is referred to as the ‘minutes’ and will help ensure everyone present remembers the decisions made and also lets anyone who couldn’t make the meeting what was discussed and decided.
Close the meeting – Most SRCs will have a set date for their meetings, however for groups that meet infrequently, you may wish to lock in the date for your next meeting to ensure everyone is available.
AFTER THE MEETING:
Reflection – Spend some time reflecting on how the meeting went. What worked well? What strategies did the chairperson effectively use to facilitate the discussion and decisions? What changes may need to be made?
Share the minutes – Once the meeting has finished, aim to get the minutes out to people as soon as possible. This will remind them to complete any tasks they needed to complete and allow people to check that the document reflects the conversation and decision made while it is still fresh in their memory.
Follow through – If you received a job to do at the meeting be sure to complete it before the next meeting. There is nothing worse sitting in a meeting when nobody has completed any of the tasks as it prevents things from moving forward.
As the SRC Teacher Adviser, I have found it useful to offer a ‘workshop’ or check-in time where SRC members can seek support or touch base with me regarding any tasks they need to complete between meetings.
RESOURCES TO SUPPORT YOU:
Section 3.5 of the VicSRC Resource Kit, “Represent” explores effective meetings in more detail.
The “Meeting Procedure” Resource Kit developed by Second Strike also contains further ideas and suggestions about how to improve your meetings.
VISTA has some great resource that can assist you in running effective meetings.
- Developing an agenda flowchart
- Guide to facilitating a discussion in a meeting
- Agenda and Minute Templates
This article was written and published in CONNECT Magazine (Edition 207). To view the full edition online or to obtain a free subscription, visit their website.