This past Wednesday, we devoted our faculty meeting time to 7th-8th grade teachers. I e-mailed them prior to the meeting with some questions to consider leading up to the discussion including classroom management techniques, technology integration, and topics we could collaborate on with various disciplines. The discussion went quite well considering it was our first time doing something like this. One goal we had was to keep the discussion focused on the grade levels in general rather than individual students. We certainly didn't want it to become a gripe session.
One excellent discussion topic focused on the need for more critical thinking activities in the middle school. While understanding this is a difficult task, we all admitted it is a serious need as we train our students for high school and beyond. This type of discussion could have been lectured to the teachers or sent in a hasty e-mail. However, by bringing it up in discussion, the ownership of adding critical thinking turned from administration to the teachers. That ownership will assist the teachers as they endeavor to enhance their classes.
Fellow administrators, I encourage this interaction with a group of teachers whether broken up by department, grade level, or teams. We are planning 9th-10th grade and 11th-12th grade meetings in the coming weeks. If you embark on this, let me know how it goes.