'Staff meetings are just about showing off'

6th June 2008 at 01:00
Every week your chance to shout about what makes you happy, sad or mad ... Do meetings need Hollywood-esque theatricals? They are often more about the egos of those involved than getting a message across, says Suran Dickson
Every week your chance to shout about what makes you happy, sad or mad ... Do meetings need Hollywood-esque theatricals? They are often more about the egos of those involved than getting a message across, says Suran Dickson

Most staff meetings are a forum for teachers to show off. In fact, they are reminiscent of a West End show. The lead actors (the senior management team) are passionately exercising their vocal chords while imagining their speech being replayed in a grainy Martin Luther King fashion to worldwide education forums for decades to come.

But without the extras - teachers - the show would fall apart. For this stage show is interactive; the extras are also the audience, who must come up with their own input in order to:

a) give the impression that they are paying attention;

b) impress their line managers with their forward thinking, organisation and dedication to the cause;

c) create evidence to be recorded for the next round;

d) put forward innovative ideas that alter the shape of the constantly reinvented educational wheel;

e) throw in whatever veiled reference to Eighties' song lyricsthe deputy headteacher's toupeeGreek mythology that the staff clown has invented to make the meeting more bearable.

And as if the production isn't already overrun with two-bit players looking to make their mark, we have the runners (NQTs), who can't contain the excitement and untainted enthusiasm for the impact their Plato-esque lessons are going to have on the eager young minds who sit adoringly at their feet.

The runners tend to sit near to the genuine enthusiast (every school has one) who waits until the end of the meeting drumming their fingers in anticipation, to bring up the type of question that is impossible to answer in less than 15 minutes.

If groans and rolled eyes were an alternative to applause, the show would have rousing reviews in the staff bulletin.

Suran Dickson is a school sport co-ordinator in Islington.

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