April 21, 2020

Applying Meeting Best Practices to the Classroom

‘ll admit it. I’ve wasted a lot of great peoples’ time with bad meetings (sorry!). From asking for way too much time to going in without a goal or agenda. Thankfully, I have candid mentors and colleagues that pointed out the errors in my ways and taught me to be careful with both my time and the time that others share with me. After all, it’s the only thing you can’t buy more of.

Today, I do my best to follow the 3 rules below whenever I initiate a meeting:

  1. Never ask for a meeting unless I’m clear on the outcomes I’m looking for.
  2. Keep the meeting to 30 minutes or less. Ideally, 15 minutes.
  3. Come in with an agenda and stick to it.

These 3 rules have made meetings more efficient and ensure that I don’t waste anyone’s time. It’s not just me, some version of these rules are practiced by great start-ups and are science-backed.

What if these same rules could be applied to the grade school classroom? During this transition, teachers have been struggling to move class online. However, much of their effort has gone towards re-creating their regular classroom experience online. Teachers are providing regular assignments online through Google Classroom and are re-creating their classroom lectures as live-streams and Youtube videos. Many teachers are struggling with keeping their students engaged and navigating the challenge of teaching online.

What if teachers didn’t do what they would normally do in a classroom? What if they didn’t lecture, didn’t assign regular assignments, and instead met with each student or with groups of students for 15-minute chunks twice a week?

I know what you’re thinking. What a logistical nightmare! What would that even look like? How could a teacher have so many meetings every single week?

Well, let’s take a look at each of the objections:

What a logistical nightmare!

Not quite. I made a Google Sheet template that teachers can clone. They can delete and adjust times as needed. Students sign up for a slot and click the meeting link in the top right-hand corner to jump into the meeting. Teachers can set it up to meet students one on one or in groups of 4. (I wouldn’t recommend larger class sizes as all of your students won’t get the opportunity to talk)

Here’s a 1-minute video breaking down how to set up the logistics:

What would it even look like?

Like something that social science teachers have been doing for years – Socratic seminars. Instead of lecturing, you assign a problem to work on, a reading, or a video to watch that students must complete before the meeting. After you have all the submissions, students can discuss what they did for the assignment, give each other feedback, and solidify their understanding of whatever it is you might be teaching.


Class: AP US History

This week’s assignment: Watch this crash course on the Age of Andrew Jackson. List out 3 things that you learned that you didn’t know previously. List 1-3 questions that this video brought to mind for you. Be prepared to discuss your answers during this week’s 15-minute meeting

During Meeting: Discuss what students learned, have them answer each others’ questions, and chime in to fill the gaps in their knowledge.

How could a teacher have so many meetings every single week?

In the Google Sheet I provided, I used a regular school day to outline full-days of meetings for teachers (except for break and lunch) with a 5-minute break between each meeting. Teachers can clone and edit this sheet to the number of meetings they want to have every week.

If teachers have as few as 3 meetings a day during the school week, they can see each of their students twice a week as long they’re meeting in groups of 4. Instead of spending time on getting live classes and lectures going, teachers could be much better off spending their time speaking to their students.

During these crazy times, we need to adapt and innovate the way we approach teaching, and what works in the classroom definitely doesn’t work online.

Curiosity Foundation is looking to support teachers in making this transition. Not only will we provide technical and curriculum support, but we’ll also pay you a stipend for the time it takes you to get adjusted in return for helping us validate our idea, and learn from your experience.

If you’re a teacher that’s looking to shake up how they teach online, please apply by clicking here.

Thanks for reading & have an excellent day,

Sukh Singh