Once each month, we hold a literacy coach meeting to bring together the four literacy coaches in our district. We are each building-based, so this is often our only time to collaborate, talk, and vent. This year, we decided to formalize our meetings by developing norms. We developed these norms at our first meeting of the year.
1. Honor the agenda and time limits.
This norm was developed because we have a tendency to get stuck on a topic. Our meetings last for about an hour and a half, and in the past we often ran out of time. We build the agenda together prior to the meeting using Google Docs, so now we are adding time limits to each topic. Here is our most recent agenda, with time limits:
2. Keep a positive tone. Discuss ideas and topics, not people.
This norm was developed because, at times, our meetings turned into venting and complaining sessions. Also, we sometimes tended to use over-generalizations such as, “The teachers won’t want to do that” or “The third-grade teachers aren’t…”. This norm reminds us to hold the teachers in a positive light and to look for the bigger coaching ideas behind our interactions with specific people.
3. Use a protocol when applicable.
This norm was developed mainly to help focus our discussions. Two protocols we might use are Peeling the Onion (when we have a problem or issue to discuss) and Save the Last Word for Me (when we have a professional reading to discuss).
4. Make sure everybody’s voice is heard.
I added this norm to the list because…well, let’s just say I’m not shy. I have a tendency to be the first one to speak up, and I also assume the role of leader (when I am an equal). This norm will help ensure that all of our voices are heard. We discussed how we could meet this norm by directly asking any silent participants, “What do you think,?”.
5. Set aside time to reflect at the end of each meeting.
This norm was added because there were times we all left a meeting feeling beaten down under the minutia of decision-making. We discussed and agreed and disagreed and discussed and revised and agreed and questioned… and then asked, “Wait, what did we decide?” This norm helps us to reflect back on the meeting and restate what we accomplished during our time together.
Here is the poster we will refer to at each meeting: