Joan Sallis Answers your questions
A I used to end most talks by saying "When it gets bad, shut your eyes and think about the children", which never failed to work for me.
Here are a few more thoughts:
1 Try to set aside time for reading and thinking about papers before meeting day. Half-digesting difficult issues in a hurry is the enemy of rational discussion and causes indigestion as well.
2 Always sit next to someone different.
3 Don't repeat points already made just to show you are awake - just signify assent or warm approval - but if you are really burning to say something, make sure you do even if it's unpopular. You'll sleep better.
4 If there's something to praise in a paper, do that first. Do not draw attention to trivial errors of grammar or punctuation (facts are different). A note is better.
5 Strong feeling in the community about something important needs reporting. If you don't agree, say so - it's still important the school knows.
6 Be considerate about tired staff and late nights. You may be a star turn that evening and it may even be a refreshing change from what you usually do, but remember they will be with children all next day. Being a governor is not a hobby.
7 If you know you have to say something contentious, don't duck it. But practise saying it softly.
8 If possible, always volunteer for something. And of course do it. Too many governors are good at thinking of what someone else should be doing.
10 Shut your eyes and think about the children.
Joan Sallis's column now appears every three weeks: see more of her answers on the TES website. The TES welcomes your queries. Joan strives to answer all letters, but please keep requests for private replies to a minimum. We aim to provide helpful information for ALL readers and always protect the identity of schools and individuals. Send questions to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX,fax 020 7782 3202, or see www.tes.co.ukgovernorsask_the_expert