Tag Archives: PD

6 Tips for Effective Meeting Facilitation

Pop quiz time. Ready?

What is the number one, most valuable resource for coaches and teachers?

a. Coffee
b. Time
c. Post It Notes
d. Technology

And the answer is (I’ll bet you guessed it)…b!! TIME! (although maybe this could have been tied with a)

As you know, we really need every single minute of it to get done everything we need to get done in our busy days.

So there’s nothing worse than when our time is wasted.

And you know what one of the biggest culprits can be? Meaningless Meetings.

Sure, meetings (planning meetings, PD meetings, business related meetings) are an essential part of working in a school. But if run poorly, they can be a huge waste of time.

But good news! As coaches there’s something we can do about this.

We facilitate lots of meetings, so let’s make sure the ones we’re responsible for leading are meaning-FULL, not meaningless.


I thought it might be helpful if I walked you through a case study of what it can look like to put this plan into action.

OK. So earlier this week I facilitated a curriculum planning meeting with our fourth grade team. Here’s how I went about making sure I had all my ducks in a row and the meeting was a meaningful use of this team’s time.

1. Identify Outcomes and Create an Agenda

To help me identify an outcome for our time together that felt supportive to the team, I sent out an email the week prior to meeting with them. After I received their response, I was able to create a purposeful agenda aligned to their needs.


2. Provide Helpful Resources

I always try to think about what resources (books, videos, examples, planning templates, etc.) would support teachers in the work they’re setting out to accomplish. In this particular case, I thought it would be helpful to give them a planning template they could use to help them with the logistics that go into planning a Celebration of Learning.

How to Facilitate a Successful Meeting

3. Use Google Docs

In curriculum planning meetings, there’s frequently a good amount of collaborative work and thinking going on. Google Docs/Drive makes it super easy for me to capture this work and share it with the team afterwards.

How to Facilitate a Successful Planning Meeting

4. Listen First, Talk Second

I have lots of thoughts and ideas I’m excited to share with teachers in planning meetings. But I zip it up, and listen first. Then I can guide the discussion as needed with follow-up questions or suggestions.

How to Facilitate a Successful Meeting

5. Track Time and Keep it Tight

As the facilitator, it’s my role to track time and keep the team’s work on track. Since we only have 45 minutes for these planning meetings, this is super important. Including the estimated amount of time for each part of the agenda helps with this.

How to Facilitate a Successful Meeting

6. Identify Next Steps and Follow-Up

Don’t forget to leave 5 minutes at the end of your time to review what was covered and identify next steps. AND set a time/day for when you’ll follow-up.


And BOOM! You’ve got yourself a meaning-FULL meeting.

If you have an upcoming meeting to facilitate, hopefully you can use these tips as a roadmap to get you started and check your work.

Have a question, or maybe a tip I didn’t include? Share it in the comments below.

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll talk to you soon!




P.S.  If you liked this post and found it helpful, I’d GREATLY appreciate if you helped me spread the word using the share buttons below. Thanks!

A Fun Initiative for Staff and Students

I’m back from fall break this week and headed into 2nd quarter. We usually go somewhere on a mountain adventure, but this year we opted for a stay-cation and it was just great. Long walks with the puppy Sombra, sunny patio sessions, and a little shopping time. Ahh….

One of the cool things about our calendar, is we have a PWL day (Professional Work and Learning) after every break. So instead of diving straight back in, we have a day to come together as a staff and do some work.

When we get together on these days, or on Wednesday PDs, we usually always kick things off with an initiative.

Initiatives are a terrific structure for building community and relational trust, while also warming everyone up for some learning.


I thought I’d share the initiative our fourth grade team put together for this week, so you can use it too!

An initiative is a bit different from an “activity” in that there’s always a clear learning target or purpose for what you’ll be doing. It’s also followed by a debrief at the end, giving everyone the opportunity to make connections between the initiative and the bigger picture of the work you’ll be doing moving forward. (I’ve provided some example debrief questions at the end.)

So start your planning by identifying a target and post it on a chart to refer to during the opening/framing, as well as the debrief. The target can be flexible for this initiative, but here was ours:


Since teachers/students will be rotating through three different “stations” for this initiative, you’ll want to have everyone number off and get themselves into groups. We have a pretty large staff so we had two of each station set-up, so the groups weren’t too big. Each group had 5 minutes at each station.

To set-up each station, post the station number next to the station task card. There are a few materials to prepare in advance, which you can check out using the task cards (printable and ready-to-go!) below.







Okay! Once everyone has rotated through each station, circle everyone up for a debrief.


Here are a few debrief questions you can throw out to the group:

  • What felt challenging?
  • How did you persevere or work through these challenges?
  • What connections can you make between this initiative and the work we’ll be doing today/this week/this quarter?

Now with this initiative complete, teachers will be ready to dig into any work planned with a refreshed mindset and a little extra oomph of energy.

I hope you’re able to use this at your next staff or classroom meeting!

If you have other great ideas for community building initiatives, please take a sec to share it in the comments below.

To fun times with initiatives,




P.S. If you liked this fun initiative post and want to help me spread the word by using the links below (or just shout it out on Twitter!), I would totally appreciate it!

P.P.S. Here are a few more fun initiatives!