Meetings can be the nemesis of every school leader. Some meetings seem to go on for ever and then there’s even meetings about meetings! But have you ever stopped to think about the effectiveness of your meetings and if you’re getting the very best out of your staff in them? You only have to look around your next senior leadership or middle leaders meeting and count up the amount of bodies to do a rough estimate of how much money is being spent on wages for that specific meeting. Once you do the rough maths it will probably scare you to death. So if we know the importance attached to every meeting due to the financial implications, then we need to ensure that the face to face time we have in meetings is as effective as possible.
One way that we have revolutionised our leadership meetings at Acklam Grange School is to take on a flipped learning approach by using One Note. Every member of the leadership team has been supplied with a Microsoft Surface tablet for use at home and school. In One Note we have set up staff notebooks that have an SLT Collaboration space. There is a tab created for each weekly leadership meeting and then each item on the agenda has its own page within the meeting tab.
As in any well-structured and well run meeting, items are added to the agenda in advance, but in this case, leaders who have added an item must upload their presentation slides or information documents to the specific page related to that item on One Note at least 24hrs prior to the meeting. This is where One Note comes into its own. Leaders now have the opportunity to read the information prior to attending the meeting and have time to process it over time. This is now an expectation of all leaders prior to any meeting they attend and part of the highly professional approach towards school leadership that was recognised by Ofsetd in 2016 as outstanding.
No longer do we sit in meetings and have to listen to information for the first time and have to digest it quickly without much thought and then have to make big decisions based upon it. Leaders are now fully in the picture when they enter the meeting, having read their pre-meeting information, meaning that face to face time can be so much more productive, based on a group of people who are extremely well informed.
The secondary benefit to this flipped meeting approach is financial. As every leader in the meeting has their own Surface tablet in front of them on the boardroom table, there is absolutely no need to photocopy hundreds of sheets of paper per meeting. Think about the last big meeting you attended and the amount of paper that was given to you. If you’re anything like we used to be and you were present at a results analysis meeting or an attendance meeting then you’ll have probably left with a whole load of graphs and information. Now times this by the amount of people in the room and it soon starts to drive up the cost of that meeting. We’ve already saved thousands of pounds over the past year on printing alone!
Leaders can also go back to any meeting throughout the year and quickly access the information, presentation or minutes directly from their tablet or mobile device linked to One Note, meaning they can feel empowered with that knowledge and information wherever they are. Gone are the days at Acklam Grange of scrabbling through filing cabinets trying to locate an important document from a few months ago. With a couple of clicks you can access everything you need. Information sheets and presentations are displayed in full colour and can be zoomed in, copied and pasted or altered at a click of a button.
A quote from our Headteacher Andrea Crawshaw sums this culture shift up perfectly – “As a forward thinking school, our innovative use of Microsoft One Note has enabled us as a leadership team to role model the effective and efficient use of sustainable resources. As we enter into a time of uncertain and limited funding, it is essential that we keep pushing the boundaries, but with sustainable solutions”.