Pondering Meetings: Who is at the Table?

Originally posted at Connected Principals blog.

While reading Carol Dweck’s “Mindset“, I came across this great quote from Lou Gerstner:

“Hierarchy means very little to me. Let’s put together in meetings the people who can help solve a problem, regardless of position.”

By Richard Rutter http://bit.ly/jRWxgJ

By Richard Rutter http://bit.ly/jRWxgJ

Dweck also adds that from the view of the “…growth mindset, it is not only the select few that have something to offer.”

How many meetings do we have per year that do not include the voices those that have something to offer? Students? Parents? Support staff? Teaching staff?

How many decisions are made without those who the decisions have the greatest impact (ie. How many decisions are made about teaching that involve those that do not teach)?

It is time we move away from the traditional structure of admin meetings and staff meetings to a model of learning conversations that include those who choose to be there and those that want to see action (similar to the movement toward EdCamp model for professional development). What if, instead of a certain number of staff/admin meetings per year, we lessened those and added meetings that were open to engaged parents, students, community members and the dialogue focused on a specific area of interest?

Can we move away from the hierarchical structure to one that welcomes the voices of those that choose to be there – those that are engaged and want to see solutions – and away from the structure that includes only those with certain positions?

I would love to hear from any people that have changed the traditional structures of meetings in their school/district to a model that works to flatten the hierarchy and include more voices of those that “can help solve a problem, regardless of position”.

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.


  1. Hi Chris,
    I’m not an administrator (yet!) so I can’t speak at that level, but I do try to flatten the hierarchy in my classroom. I have a monthly class meeting in which all desks are pushed aside and students, TA and I all sit in a circle. There is an agenda that students, TA and I have added to during the month. The tech assistants for the week are chairperson and secretary. We toss a soccer ball stuffie around the room to the person who wants to speak.

    All opinions are valid and welcomed. It took a couple of months before students realized that they could have input, but it was worth it. We have had some great discussions and dealt with some very deep issues. The meetings often run an hour and the kids are totally engaged. It’s one way that I like to even out the power in the room and I’ve often wondered when I do go into admin how I could make a similar system work in a school.

  2. I would love a follow up post with any ideas and successes folks have had in changing the structure of meetings, and to flatten walls. Do share if you receive some good ideas! Thank you.

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