Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math) – “I hardly ever sat down. I stayed busy the whole day and even often ate lunch on the go. One day I was opening a pull-top can of tuna walking down the hallway and sliced my thumb. I had to leave school and have someone take me to get stiches! Lots of people teased me about it. I learned that I needed to stop, sit down, relax and enjoy a 20-minute lunch! My well being depended on it!”
Dr. Tom Vontz (Elementary Social Studies) – “I left my barn door open after lunch.”
Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education) – “Most of these are really inside jokes among our staff! We still have a great time with them… while this is not silly, the moral of the story is enjoy every moment and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
At this point, you’ve probably experienced a teaching tradition—which can’t be replicated anywhere else but within the walls of your school: The faculty meeting. You’ve probably attended two to three faculty meetings, and you’re trying to figure them out. We’ll try to address some of those burning questions you have about the ever-popular faculty meeting.
- Where do I sit? With my content teachers? My new friends? My mentor (who may or may not be my friend)? The faculty member who intimidates me the most? When you start teaching, sitting down at a faculty meeting will bring back visions of your life as a fifth-grader trying to find a spot on a school bus. Uncomfortable, humbling, awkward at best. Use the same approach you did then: Look for a smiling face—one that says “I’m not gonna steal your lunch money.” And maybe one that says, “Welcome, friend!”—only probably not quite so directly. At some meetings, you’ll find it beneficial to sit with those who are teaching similar content or age group as you; other times, by all means go with the most welcoming faces.
- How much should I say at these meetings? Should I speak my mind? There is no magic rule about this, though you’re encouraged to observe for the first few meetings. Jumping in immediately with your ideas can be a risky move, no matter how earth-shatteringly amazing you believe your ideas are. Often, as a new teacher, it’s best to quietly share your ideas with a colleague, who can help you avoid any issues that may have existed long before you joined the faculty.
- How do I deal with the colleague’s running commentary throughout the meeting? Well, smiling is always a good response—it’s neutral, not too supportive, not too negative. You’re new here, so take some time to figure out the power structure of the faculty. In time, you’ll know when it’s OK to laugh out loud and when it’s time to focus on—or at least pretend to—taking more notes about the topic at hand.
- And just what are my students doing while they’re roaming the halls before or after school? Probably…nothing good. That’s why we lock our classroom doors when we step away.
Don’t get us wrong; often faculty meetings can be beneficial—coming together in times of tragedy, celebration, and innovation. It’ll just take some time to figure out the key players and your role in these sessions.