Crafting the Perfect School Meeting: Techniques for Engaging and Effective Leadership

by Peter Baron

Last week, someone asked me what the “OS” in MooshotOS is all about.

I was waiting for that question, eagerly, mind you.

An immense opportunity exists for school leaders to embrace entrepreneurial training as part of their journey to reimagine the independent school business model.

But without a well-designed organizational operating system, training alone won’t be enough to make an impact.

That’s where the “OS” in MoonshotOS comes in.

OS = Operating System.

So, what’s an organizational operating system (also commonly known as a business operating system)?

Here’s a quick definition:

An organizational operating system is the structured set of processes and tools your organization uses to run its daily operations effectively. It encompasses:

  1. Organizational culture
  2. Management practices
  3. Software applications
  4. Procedures

All four drive your school’s strategic goals and everyday activities.

Let’s acknowledge that these are significant areas, and today, I want to hone in on one to dig even deeper into a component that’s likely a daily fixture at your school or organization.

Let’s look at management practices and focus the lens on team meetings.

Yup, team meetings.

In full disclosure, I stunk at running meetings during the early stages of my leadership journey. They were painful.

I would bring people together for good reasons, but the need for more structure and repeatability stood out.

It made finding my footing as a younger leader exponentially harder because if I struggled to get the meeting right, imagine what the folks reporting to me thought of my ability to execute.

But I learned it doesn’t have to be that way.

Over the years, I’ve brought structure, repeatability, accountability, and proper expectations to meetings.

But I think how I could’ve served my colleagues and organizations better in those earlier days had I been taught a framework to facilitate a team meeting that avoids common pitfalls: unstructured agendas, unclear objectives, and wavering attention spans.

So, let me introduce you to a meeting framework I use from my friends at Ninety.

You may want to tweak it to fit your needs (possibly start by changing the language to be more school-specific), but it’s a solid foundation to begin with.

(Side note: if you attended TransformED, you’d recognize Ninety. Their CEO, Mark Abbott, spoke about how to build a greater organizational culture in the new age of work.)

The framework encompasses four principles:

  1. Sharing good news
  2. Deepening team connection and health
  3. Ensuring we’re on top of things that matter
  4. Creating a consistent time and place to address issues and opportunities

The principles emerge via a structured seven-step agenda:

  1. Segue: Begin each meeting with good news. It could be a personal win or something exciting at school.
  2. Headlines: Briefly share important school-wide news updates at the start of the meeting, like policy updates or significant events.
  3. 90-day Goals: Review the primary objectives to ensure they are on track. Regularly review key school objectives (like enrollment goals, curriculum updates, accreditation processes, building plans, etc.) to monitor progress and maintain focus.
  4. To-Dos: Check off completed tasks and assign new ones. Follow up on previously assigned tasks and delegate new responsibilities, ensuring clear understanding and accountability.
  5. Scorecard: Review key metrics and goals. Examine relevant metrics for your team (like admission numbers, student performance data, annual fund status, etc.) to assess progress toward operational goals.
  6. Raise-Discuss-Resolve (RDR): OK, this is a good one. Spend time identifying, discussing, and resolving critical issues. Encourage open discussion on your team’s challenges and collaboratively find solutions.
  7. Conclude: Remember to recap, clarify the next steps, and rate the meeting at the end by summarizing action points, ensuring clarity on the next steps, and inviting feedback on the meeting’s effectiveness to improve the process continuously.

I particularly like rating a meeting.

I strongly encourage normalizing receiving feedback because you need input from your team to know what’s working and what’s broken.

It might feel “risky” (there’s a natural aversion to hearing potentially negative ratings), but that feedback loop is an essential growth component.

I use this framework to run my meetings and am excited to teach it to independent school leaders starting in February.

Join me for my upcoming cohort-based course, The Art of the Productive Meeting: Building Better School Leaders.

We’ll dig deep, teaching you the framework, sharing how I’ve tweaked it for my needs, and working with you to tailor it to meet yours.

If you’re interested, sign up for my waitlist to be the first to hear.

And please drop me an email with your ideas on running better meetings.

Remember, the feedback loop is essential, and I want to hear your strategies to help me improve mine.

So, let’s end where I began: why did I add “OS” to MoonshotOS?

It’s to help you develop systems, like a better meeting framework, to run your operations effectively.

Systems + building entrepreneurial and business know-how is the MoonshotOS formula to help you reimagine the independent school business model.

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