A Chair

If you are a school based employee you are accustomed to attending meetings. Staff meetings, building leadership team meetings, professional development meetings, teacher collaboration meetings, administrative team meetings, curriculum writing meetings, study group meetings, grade level team meetings, committee meetings, parent meetings, evaluation meetings, school board meetings, union meetings etc… Where educators gather there is a lot of talk and discussion items. Sometimes these meetings stay focused on the particular agenda and sometimes these meeting wander off topic. Or worse yet, to don’t result in actions.

Time is a precious commodity in schools. Some meetings are valid, yet others  steal time. When time is wasted, frustration builds. When developing the agenda to a specific meeting one question to ask is “Can the focus of this meeting be delivered in any other manner?” In many cases meeting topics can be addressed in writing, rather than a physical gathering. Weekly newsletters, blogs, electronic group calendars, etc… are handy tools to communicate important information.

The sole purpose of a school is the students. When meetings and professional learning opportunities address the needs of students, success prevails. How can meeting stay focused on students?

One idea is to add one simple element to your meetings – An EXTRA CHAIR. This is a chair that NO ONE sits in. The chair represents THE STUDENTS in your school. As the meeting progresses, monitor yourselves. Are you focusing on the students and their needs? Are you creating actions that will accelerate student learning? Are you learning new skills to implement in your classroom that will enhance student engagement and student learning? What actions will take place because of this meeting?  How will the actions benefit students? How will you communicate these actions to necessary stakeholders? How will you monitor the action to determine if they are making a difference? How will you hold each other accountable for the actions? How will you know to readjust the actions? How will you know actions have been successful?

One simple chair may be all that is needed to change the focus of school meetings. Give it a try. I’d love to hear the outcome.


  • Maureen Devlin 23 Dec

    Terrific physical symbol of our main focus, the children. Great idea. Thanks for posting.

    • Kathy Perret 25 Dec

      Thanks for leaving a comment! Always much appreciated. Let me know if you try adding a chair to a meeting.

  • Cristina 23 Dec

    The simplest yet (hopefully) most effective use of an object in this context.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Kathy Perret 25 Dec

      Give it a try. Meeting outcomes rely on how we all focus our attention. Thanks for leaving a comment. Much appreciated.

  • Fran 25 Dec

    I used the “chair” as a part of professional development two weeks ago. I actually had 2 chairs: one) general ed. student named Susie who was making adequate progress and two) IEP student named Joey who seemed to be “stuck” with little evidence of learning even with an IEP.

    It was very helpful to keep us focused on the fact that all students need to make progress in our schools OR we, the adults, need to make changes that adapt the instruction and or environment to increase the likelihood of success.

    Thanks for this timely reminder of our focus on students and “learning” as the year comes to a close. Congratulations on your milestone of over 25,000 visitors to you blog this year! I can’t wait to see your goal for next year!

    Happy Holidays!

    • Kathy Perret 25 Dec

      WOW! I love the idea of TWO CHAIRS! Providing the visual of two chairs helps us focus on the fact that each student has unique needs.
      Thanks for the congratulatory message. It is hard to wrap my head around 25,000 visitors. You know my love of using data to make decisions. 😉

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