Meeting Number 3

The overarching purpose of the third work team meeting was to reflect on the trends and other topics discussed in the first two work team meetings and begin to prioritize the top three to four key issues and challenges the work team should address. We co-designed the specific agenda on a planning phone call with the work team co-leads 1-2 weeks before the scheduled meeting. Some details of the agenda varied by work team, but the overall structure remained largely consistent.

Looking Back to Look Forward

  • Purpose:  To refresh the memory of work team members and bring everyone onto the same page, particularly those who may have been absent at the previous meeting.
  • Activity:  A presentation through PowerPoint slides.

Reflecting on Text

  • Purpose:  To make best use of the time together, co-leads had assigned work team members some minimal homework, by browsing the team’s designated workbook or reflecting on an particular article—in order to identify one relevant trend or challenge (national, state, or local).
  • Activity:  We used a Text Study Protocol from the School Reform Initiative, which is intended to help with sense-making and ensure all voices are heard.

Setting Priorities

  • Purpose:  To begin to establish a set of priorities for the work team, by creating consensus among its members about the 3-4 most pressing or challenging issues.  This also prompted work teams to consider what experts to consult, what additional information to gather, or what types of site visits or other explorations may be helpful. The goal was assess these needs early enough in the planning process to inform the work teams’ formal recommendations.
  • Activity:   The co-leads reflected on what they observed to be some the team’s emerging issues and led the work team in a group brainstorm activity. Each work team member was asked to write key issues/challenges on sticky notes and then post them on the wall/board.  The full group then reviewed the issues and began organizing the sticky notes into categories: a process known as “affinity mapping”). Once the work team had settled on a list of key issues and challenges, each work team member was given 3-4 dot stickers to place next to the top 3-4 issues or challenges that they felt were most pressing or compelling.

Thereafter, the co-leads divided the team into small groups of 2-3 individuals - one group per each of the 3-4 prioritized issues/challenges. Each small group was then asked to discuss the following:

  • Definition: What is the specific issue we are addressing?
  • Vision: What do we hope to achieve?
  • Accelerants: What policies, people, and/or programs exist in the district that we can build on to make progress?
  • Barriers: What systems or conditions might impede progress?
  • Open questions: What experts, explorations, and/or experiences do we need over the next month or two to push our thinking?

Work teams were given about 30 minutes to discuss these questions in their small groups. The co-leads then reconvened the full work team and asked each of the small groups to report out to the full work team.

Closing Exercise

  • Purpose:  To gauge the energy and disposition of work team members in a very efficient manner.  
  • Activity:  Co-leads asked each work team member to answer the following question: “In one word, how do you feel about the progress we’ve made today?”