Meeting Wise

Making the Most of Collaborative Time for Educators

by Kathryn Parker Boudett , Elizabeth City

Number of pages: 200

Publisher: Harvard Education Press

BBB Library: Education

ISBN: 9781612506944

About the Authors

Kathryn Parker Boudett : She's the director of the Data Wise Project at Harvard Graduate


Elizabeth City : She's the executive director of the Doctor Of Education Leadership program


Editorial Review

Have you ever had to sit through a whole hour when you felt that the substance of the meeting could have been handled in five minutes? Or planned a thoughtful meeting only to have it derailed by a couple of rogue participants who had their own agendas? Have you ever felt that the meetings you are expected to lead (or the ones you’re obliged to attend) get in the way of the “real work” that you need to do? If so, this book will give you a new way of thinking about and working with your collaborative time.

Book Reviews

"InMeeting Wise: Making the Most of Collaborative Time for Educators, forthcoming from Harvard Education Press, Kathryn Parker Boudett and Elizabeth A. City write that meetings provide rare opportunities for educators to promote learning – not just for students but also for themselves. Great meetings, the authors say, are like great classrooms. With sound preparation, clear goals and stimulating activities, adult professionals can use formal meetings to learn from one another." Inside Higher Ed

"The authors invite readers to closely evaluate how we spend our time, particularly with meetings. They provide a number of helpful practical worksheets, checklists and activities, including one that invites readers to calculate what the monetary cost is in wasted or underutilized meeting time. It’s a simple but revealing equation, illustrating the real cost in dollars of meeting time."Women in Higher Education

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Wisdom to Share

Checklists help to make sure that nothing obvious and routine is forgotten and free up professionals to focus their energy on the unique challenges of a particular situation.

Think deeply about exactly what you are hoping to achieve in the meeting at hand and how that connects to all the other times the group will be working together.

It is essential to be clear about what needs to get done at the meeting. But it is also critical to be thoughtful about how to engage the group in working toward the stated objectives.

Having a shorter list may make it more likely that everyone will remember what’s on it.

If you lean on them when the going gets tough and modify them as needed, norms will provide a solid foundation for your collaborative work.

An important foundational setup task is to decide where all meeting documents will live and how each meeting will be documented.

Store meeting materials electronically so that meeting members don’t rely on their own filing system to find what they need.

Consider creating a meeting summary. It captures key information: Objectives, decisions, and next steps for a series of meetings.

Sending out the agenda within 24 hours of a meeting is usually better than not sending it out at all.

The facilitator plays an important role in moving from an agenda to a real, productive meeting, where he/she helps the meeting run smoothly so that participants’ energy and attention are focused on the most important issues.

If you have been successful in engaging participants in wrestling with important topics, the meeting is almost guaranteed to generate a discussion so lively that keeping to the agenda feels hard to do.

Start on Time. This creates a culture in which people feel that their time is valued.

A key to starting on time is arriving early, which gives the facilitator time to check on the room and technology setup, and review the agenda and objectives.

The most effective strategy for encouraging candid feedback is opening each meeting by describing how you have adjusted the agenda to take into account the feedback you’ve received.

If you are not clear on the most important thing you are trying to accomplish, no one else in the meeting will be either.

When you ask people what gets in the way of improving learning and teaching, “time” is consistently one of the top responses.

Time – especially time for adults to learn together – is a precious resource, and in lots of schools and conference rooms, time is being wasted.

People are paid for their time, and if you think about a meeting not as “60 minutes,” but as $1,000 for example, you will feel different about the meeting. Thus, making big investment in meetings makes sense.

Part of your job as a facilitator is to promote healthy conflict (productive disagreement). Different opinions, perspectives, and ideas can lead to some of the most illuminating moments in meetings.

Separate people from their behaviors. That person who makes your job difficult may be the bravest in the room and willing to name the difficult truths.

If a norm is violated in a meeting, try to either give a general reminder or name it in as low-key a way as possible:

Make sure you understand the purpose of the meeting. If you ask about the purpose, be careful with the way you phrase the question, in order not to appear as if you are challenging the purpose.

You have four entry points to becoming more meeting wise: Making better agendas, investing in a firmer foundation, facilitating and participating effectively, and tackling meeting dilemmas.

There is a whole world waiting to learn from what you discover, and a whole generation of children whose learning trajectories will soar if the adults who serve them treat their collaborative time as an investment in learning.

Set a specific, small goal, try it out, and then check back on how well you’ve done against your goal.