4 Tips for Improving Staff Meetings

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Written by Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator- 8-23-20

It’s the first Monday of the month, which means there’s a faculty meeting after school. As the principal, you have a laundry list of items to discuss with members of your staff. 

After preparing a PowerPoint with all of the pertinent data points and central administration directives you know that when you look out into the auditorium you will see some polite participants watching attentively from the front row, English teachers frantically grading a stack of papers, and football coaches impatiently looking at the clock waiting to get out on the field to meet with their players. 

Sound familiar? 

Unengaging faculty meetings are as ubiquitous as students with backpacks. Usually held after a long day, meetings are more like mile marker 25 in a marathon; tests of endurance and patience and not of inspiration and empowerment. 

Teachers dread them. 

If you want to improve your staff meetings, improve the relationship between the administration and staff and focus on the most important job of a leader; building trust. According to Andy Jordan Principal one way to do this is to have fun with the staff and students by doing fun announcements over the intercom.  

Build Trust with the Faculty 

Clinton W. McLemore’s book Inspiring Trust: Strategies for Effective Leadership establishes trust as the essential component of leadership. McLemore describes ten attributes leaders must possess in order to build trust with colleagues. 

Establishing trust, McLemore asserts, takes time and practice. Learning and practicing the necessary skills associated with “intellect, stability, conscientiousness, friendliness, and assertiveness” builds trust with employees and creates a leader who others want to follow. 

McLemore also details the importance of a leader’s interpersonal effectiveness when engaging followers and inspiring trust. A leader with all ten attributes will build trust and cultivate commitment within the organization. 

Once leaders establish trust, they can begin to rethink improving their staff meetings because they will have cultivated commitment amongst their teachers thereby improving morale. 

Trust the Faculty 

According to Principal Andy Jordan it is not enough for administrators to earn the trust of teachers and staff, but to trust those in their charge as well. Let’s face it, teachers are overeducated and underpaid. They have entered into their vocation with the desire to help others. They know what they’re doing, so trust them to do it. They are to be respected and valued and should be led and not managed. They are caring professionals, not unruly students. 

Trust Builds Functional Teams 

According to Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a lack of trust creates fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. This lack of trust leads to low morale. Low morale equates to, “get me out of this faculty meeting.” 

Engaging staff meetings rely on engaged participants. Teams that enjoy trust have lively debates, are more committed, and hold each other accountable. 

Respect Time 

As a part of building trust with teachers, respect their time. One of the most valuable commodities for teachers is time. There is not enough of it and it is the reason why teachers will use every second of a faculty meeting to grade papers. They are not trying to be rude, only productive.  One strategy that Principal Andy Jordan recommends is to have a timekeeper in your meetings to keep the group on task and on time.

It is important to use face to face meetings for sharing, improving, and transforming and not for laundry lists of directives that can be communicated via email, private social media groups, department heads, or recorded videos.  Andy Jordan school principal believes staff meetings are a big waste of time so don’t waste your staff’s time with stuff that could be handled through an email.  Only have staff meetings for the important topics that need to be addressed by the group.

Leaders must build effective teams through building relationships and cultivating a culture of trust. Those who ignore this most basic leadership task will not improve staff meetings by handing out candy, or certificates for professional development completion. Just as teachers must build relationships and trust with students to be successful in the classroom, so do principals with their teachers to be successful in the schoolhouse

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th.

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Effective PBIS In Schools

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Written by Andy Jordan, Ed.S. School Administrator 8-23-20

Two years ago a student at Cosby High School in Richmond, Virginia was suspended for ten days because school security found a bottle of Advil in her car during a routine parking lot search. A kindergarten student at Deer Lakes Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was suspended for one day because the five inch plastic axe he carried as a part of his fireman Halloween costume was considered a weapon. When a first grade boy kissed a female classmate on the cheek, school officials suspended him.

Rather than having a common sense approach to discipline, the use of traditional zero tolerance discipline policies (ZT) is unfair, inequitable, ineffective, and detrimental. According to Principal Andy Jordan It destroys trust between educators, students, and parents and replaces a school’s ethic of care with an ethic of policing and punishment. 

As a result, schools across the country have adopted better discipline practices aimed not for retribution, but for improving student behavior. 

Cultivating a positive school culture requires educators to teach, model and reinforce desired social, emotional, and academic behaviors. One way to accomplish this task is through adopting and applying Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). PBIS is a proactive strategy that creates a school culture conducive to student social and emotional learning and academic success.  Principal Andy Jordan explains reading the announcements, highlighting positives, and having visual reinforcements are just a few strategies administrators can use for their building. 

PBIS schools do not rely on reactive and inconsistent discipline strategies to manage misbehavior. Instead, they use a proactive approach to teach students desired behaviors for success in all facets of the school community before undesired behaviors occur. 

PBIS uses three tiers of support to facilitate positive prosocial behavior. 

The first tier of PBIS is implemented throughout the school community. At this tier, schools cultivate a culture of respect and care for both students and staff in all areas of the building both inside and outside of the classroom. 

In order to establish desired behaviors, staff members throughout the building communicate clear expectations of respectful behavior and strive to model it in every interaction. From classroom teachers and administrators to the cafeteria staff and bus drivers, every member of the school community communicates and models desired behaviors in the successful implementation of PBIS.  Principal Andy Jordan recommends having reward bucks that teachers, office staff, and bus drivers can pass out to students to reinforce the positive behaviors of students.

The second tier of PBIS targets the needs of at-risk students before problematic behavior starts. This level helps students develop skills needed to make the most out of their school experience. Students at this level meet in groups with adult mentors to discuss desired behaviors and strategies to achieve them. 

The third tier centers on the needs of high risk students and addresses highly disruptive or dangerous behaviors. Schools provide high risk individuals with more intensive support and therapy to mitigate and change antisocial behaviors. School support members including psychologists, counselors, administrators and teachers, and behavior coaches, provide targeted individualized support to help students at this tier.  According to Andy Jordan’s leadership blog monthly assemblies are a great way to target all students and reinforce expected behaviors.

Because PBIS is a proactive approach designed to teach and reinforce appropriate behavior, it forges positive relationships and engenders trust between educators and students. Social and emotional learning programs like PBIS have been found to improve school climate, increase academic engagement and success and decrease office referrals and suspensions. Principal Andy Jordan recommends buildings that are struggling in certain areas for behavior should review and practice appropriate behavior expectations with students. 

The Three Tiers of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

As the principal of West Carroll Primary School in Savanna, Illinois, Andrew Jordan directed daily operations of a preschool to fourth grade elementary school with more than 450 students. In addition to helping improve test scores by 20 percent, Principal Andre Jordan introduced strategies such as positive behavioral interventions and supports at the school.

Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a three-tier, evidence-based framework to help improve student outcomes.

Tier 1: The school provides universal, proactive support to all students. At this tier, teachers clearly communicate expectations, teach appropriate behaviors, and intervene before unwanted behaviors escalate.

Tier 2: This tier provides targeted support for at-risk students, including group interventions and specific guidance in social skills, self-management, and academic assistance. These interventions have been shown to have positive impacts for 67 percent of referred students.

Tier 3: Students receive intensive, individualized support to help improve academic and behavioral outcomes. These strategies are highly effective with students who have developmental disabilities, autism, and other diagnoses.

Education’s Role as a Socio-Economic Factor

Andrew Jordan leverages four college degrees, including a master’s in educational administration from Western Illinois University, as a transformative principal and educational change agent. A member of the Illinois Principals Association, Andrew Jordan adheres to a leadership philosophy that provides children from all socio-economic groups with equal educational opportunities.

Socio-economic grouping refers to a method of classifying groups or individuals depending on their social status. An individual’s group, also known as socio-economic status, is typically determined by education, occupation, and income and can have major implications on access to social resources.and future economic success. Other factors may include family supports, social supports, and even crime rates.

Education plays a critical role in social economics in several ways. For example, education directly impacts future income earning potential. Studies show that each year of schooling leads to an 11 percent increase in annual income. Higher education levels also increase the likelihood of higher paying jobs that provide better benefits, safer working environments, and a greater sense of control over one’s life. Moreover, individuals with higher levels of education live nine years longer on average than those who dropped out of high school.

Tips on How to Improve Student Test Scores

An accomplished Illinois administrator, educator, and principal, Andrew Jordan has close to a decade of experience in the field of education working in various institutions. Among Andrew Jordan’s key career roles was a principal at West Carroll Primary School in Savanna, Illinois where he was in charge of all school operations and successfully increased test scores by 20 percent.

With Common Core State Standards being implemented across the US, most teachers and school administrators are focused on improving student test scores. Even though schools need to work collectively and raise their test scores, below are techniques teachers can use to help students improve their test scores.

1. Teaching students test-taking strategies is a key step that can lead to good results, especially for lower-performing students. Some of the strategies include arriving at an answer by eliminating the answers which are wrong and looking for information in a question that might provide a hint to the answer.

2. Analyze student data to discover areas where students have weaknesses. Teachers can do this by carefully evaluating the practice data to check for weak areas that need attention. Student data analysis can be time-consuming, but there are software applications that can gather all student data in a single online location for analysis.

3. Increase parent involvement by ensuring parent-teacher communication remains consistent throughout the year. Students tend to perform better in school when their parents and guardians are involved. There should be an open-door policy that encourages parents to stay informed about their children’s education. Parents can help in the library, monitor the lunchroom and tutor students.

The Difference Between an Ed.S. and a Ed.D.

Based in Illinois, Andy Jordan is an experienced principal who currently leads a K-12 school. Andy Jordan belongs to the Illinois Principal Association and holds an Ed.S. in educational leadership with a superintendency endorsement.

Educational professionals who already have master’s degrees and are considering their next step in higher education generally consider pursuing either an education specialist degree (Ed.S.) or a doctor of education (Ed.D.). The choice can seem confusing, but the two degrees have slightly different benefits.

The Ed.D. is the education equivalent to a Ph.D.—in fact, some schools are considering eliminating the Ed.D. and only offering a Ph.D. in education. Regardless, this degree is focused on research. Students must write dissertations and contribute new knowledge to the field before achieving this degree.

On the other hand, the Ed.S. is more geared toward individuals looking to develop qualifications for a certain type of job. This degree qualifies individuals for administrative positions, such as superintendent or principal.

Both degrees are advanced graduate degrees, but with different focuses. It is a good idea to determine your career path before pursuing either.

Andrew Jordan

Illinois administrator and educator Andrew Jordan spent several years as principal of West Carroll Primary School, where he oversaw more than 450 students and 64 staff members, led district leadership teams, and handled finances for primary school accounts. Previously, Andrew Jordan served as assistant principal with West Prairie High School, where he was charged with creating a district-wide safety plan and training staff. He currently co-owns J3 Timing, a race timing company working with various length running events. 

A graduate of Western Illinois University, Mr. Jordan received a master of arts in educational leadership and an Educational Specialist (EdS) degree, a requisite to becoming a school superintendent. During his graduate studies, he performed in the top five percent of students in the university. He holds a bachelor of arts in kinesiology and physical education from Northern Illinois University. 

Active within his community, Mr. Jordan is a Freemason and a member of the local chamber of commerce. He belongs to professional organizations including the Illinois Association of School Business Officials and the Illinois Principals Association.

Andrew Jordan : Website