Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Impressions

Our first district-wide meetings (with both technology coordinators K-12 and building technicians) last week got me thinking about first impressions.  For some folks who were new to the meeting or group, I wonder what they thought as they left?  What were their first impressions?  And, since I am new to the position, I also started thinking about my first impressions from that different leadership role.  Here are a few or (shocker) 11:

  1. People seemed really eager or even hungry to make connections with others in a face-to-face environment. While I hope we can continue to connect online (and asynchronously), I don't think we should underestimate the need for meaningful contact in a face-to-face manner.
  2. People went out of their way to express appreciation for having a meeting.  This spoke volumes to me.  When is the last time I thanked an organizer for a meeting? I have plenty of meetings that I find to be rather wasteful in terms of time, and it was heartening to hear genuine thanks from attendees.
  3. Having a way to share announcements that don't require a meeting helped us focus on "real" conversations.  It struck me that because we were able to move quite a bit of housekeeping items to the Announcements area on our website, we could leverage the time we had for discussion.
  4. Music had an impact.  We used music for one meeting but not for the other.  Granted, we had a different group of people in the 2nd meeting, but I think it had a relaxing and positive effect when used between topics and during breaks.
  5. Having guest speakers was helpful.  We were fortunate to have "experts" drop in to share some things and ask questions, which took some stress away from me personally.  I'd much rather have different voices in the room.
  6. Having guest speakers who weren't organized wasn't helpful.  Not sure what to do about this one, but we have to remember that not all experts are good at conveying their message in a concise manner.  Perhaps we should think about creating a template for people who will be on the agenda?
  7. You can please some of the people some of the time.  Sure, I naively hoped that everyone would just be pleased as punch to learn about things that are happening in our district, but there will always be negative voices in the room.  And I have to remember that they were negative before I got here and will likely be negative after I've left (or they do).
  8. Having a spot on the agenda for people to share something they have tried or discovered needs to be permanent. We didn't make everyone share (and we wouldn't have had time anyway), but I think that portion of the agenda helped with feelings of community, connectivity, and value.  The "slam" idea of having it limited to 30 seconds or 1 minute helped focus the sharing as well.
  9. Not all of the conversations going on during group work time was focused on the task, but that doesn't mean they weren't valuable.  Going back to #1, I think some people were just so appreciative to meet with others that they used that time to connect on topics that were relevant to them.
  10. Being cognizant of circadian rhythms when planning the agenda was a good thing.  The morning meeting we had likely didn't need as many breaks/ moving time as the afternoon meeting due to timing.  Not that we should include breaks for movement in morning meetings, but the attention levels were definitely different.
  11. Being flexible with the agenda is vitally important.  I tend to want to stick to agendas and plans, which isn't always a bad thing, but being able to shift due to the needs in the room has to be a consideration. And I have to be better about considering it.
I'm sure more things will strike as I ponder what to take away for the next meeting, but for now, this list goes to 11.