Improving faculty discussions

CommentsAt the September faculty meeting, under the guidance of Wess Daniels, we came up with lists of ideas for things that have been helpful and for things that would be helpful. That list is in the accompanying photo, but here it is in text form slightly expanded.

What has been helpful?

  • Having the “For Discussion” category for some items on the agenda.
  • Deferring decisions when we are not in consensus on what to do.
  • Breaking up into small groups for some discussions
  • The Moon Room site, and posting of meeting minutes and discussions there.
  • Contributions by junior faculty members at meetings
  • The section at the end of faculty meetings devoted to positive thoughts and recognition of colleagues (the “good vibes” section)

What would be helpful?

  • Having more people speak, particularly junior faculty, and making all feel secure and welcome.
  • Being mindful of the impact of tone and body language, as they can communicate more than words.
  • Having faculty leave behind personal history, bad blood, and past conflicts when discussing issues
  • Acknowledging that, although we try to run by Quaker practice where all have equal voice, in reality, we are a hierarchical structure where some have power over others.
  • Hold more faculty forums
  • Have more time for discussion in faculty meetings, and have more frequent meetings than once per month
  • Faculty members should be responsible in their participation, which means reading materials ahead of time and taking part in discussions of issues before they make it to faculty meeting.
  • Engage staff members so that faculty do not work in isolation
  • Have more trust in our process, and at the same time, have our process be more trustworthy.
(The following are further suggestions from posted comments and notecards from the meeting.)
  • Everyone fully present, for example, not on laptops etc. (which also distract others)
  • Stand while speaking = attention to speaker and intentional thoughts from speaker
  • A different space? A room with more light?
  • More opportunities for threshing
  • Return to the practice of standing while speaking in faculty meeting
  • Return to the practice of minutes of appreciation.
  • (speaking for a small discussion group) Our group thought it would be helpful if the process matched the outcome. We had the impression that outcomes are often made by executive actions because consensus was not reached and a decision had to be made.

One Comment

  1. I like the idea of the laptop (iPad) usage to stop. It’s difficult to gauge because some folks are utilizing devices to read agenda. But what would we say to student in our classrooms that were casually writing emails, checking social media, or doing other work during our class? Also, I’m “ok” with the standing while speaking idea, although introverts might feel differently.
    Thanks for a positive meeting Dave. It felt like we were really moving in the right direction last week. The small group discussions really help us auditory processors figure out what we think. And the notecards allow additional comments that might not be heard.
    Onward and upward!