Practically overnight, the landscape has changed in how we conduct day-to-day business. As a school leader you’ve been particularly busy moving to a distance learning environment, making sure your students have access to food, and supporting your teachers, amongst other things. And now with more restrictions and the new normal it’s critical that we learn how to best manage our work from home, support teachers and student learning, help parents, and most of all how we keep a positive mindset and stay healthy amidst the uncertainty.
While many of our meetings have been remote in the past, our SuperEval team has moved to a completely virtual meeting environment. We realize that many school boards and school leadership teams may have never held online meetings in the past. That’s why we’d like to share some best practices with you. In addition, we have included some helpful online tools and platforms that you might want to try for yourself. (Please note, these have no association with our company, we just happen to like them.)
Best Practices for Running Online Meetings (And managing the technology involved.)
- Triage the subject matter. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself, can this be resolved via email or a quick one-on-one phone call? If it can, take care of it and move on to the next thing on your list.
- Do your research. One e-solution might not be the best solution for everyone. Online meeting platforms range from simple to complex. Think about how tech savvy your team is and then choose the best platform. (See below for a couple of our favorites.)
- Send step-by-step instructions and support. Before you jump right into meeting online, make sure to send a meeting invite (we use Microsoft Outlook), any links and codes to access the meeting online (we use GoToMeeting and include the unique meeting links in our invites). You might also want to send links to video tutorials (provided by the online meeting tool company) to help people understand how to use the meeting software and all of the features.
- Schedule in advance and send a clear agenda. Make sure everyone knows the subject matter and has time to prepare before the meeting. Create a clear agenda that outlines talking points. (Follow these ides for more meeting best practices.)
- Hold a standing meeting. You might want to also schedule morning check ins or weekly check ins just to see how everyone is doing.
- Before you talk, state your name. Most times people will recognize your voice, but just in case, say who you are before you speak.
- Use the video feature. Let’s be honest, some of us are working at our kitchen tables with children and dogs running around in the background — that’s ok! As humans, we are social creatures who are used to seeing the people that we work with on a daily basis. It will help boost the morale of your team to see everyone’s face. So keep the camera feature turned on.
- Collaborate with screen sharing. Online meeting platforms such as GoToMeeting and VastConference offer screen sharing capabilities so that everyone in the meeting can see the meeting leader’s screen. Demonstrate and share visual examples with your team.
- Record your meetings. Many online meeting platforms have a record feature. This is great for recalling what your team discussed and any other to-dos that came out of your discussion.
- What is it? Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files), and application integration. The service integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite and features extensions that can integrate with non-Microsoft products.
- Why we like it – While the online messaging and file attachment features are great, the “call” button is helpful for talking to someone live. You can even talk as a group to multiple people at the same time. Further, you can create groups within the app. So for school leaders, you can create a principal team, administrator team, school board team, etc. Then you can communicate messages only to those people as necessary. We’ve been holding standing check in meetings to touch base with our team each morning.
- What is it? GoToMeeting is a web-hosted service which provides online meeting space, desktop sharing, and video conferencing.
- Why we like it – You can join via the web, a downloaded version of the software, and even the good old fashioned telephone. We love the screen sharing capabilities and the ability to see everyone in their work from home environment.
- Helpful tip – You might want to schedule your meetings at odder hours and times such as 12:55 pm or 10:12 am. We’ve found that there are peak times because of all of the traffic right now which can interfere with your experience, so you might want to adjust your start time.
- What is it? Zoom is a conferencing tool that offers free and paid plans. The free account with Zoom includes robust features like conferences that allow up to 100 participants, unlimited one-on-one conferences, video and audio conferencing, and group collaboration features such as white boarding and screen sharing.
- Why we like it – Besides the fact that it’s free, it’s really easy to use!
- What is it? Skype is an application that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches over the Internet.
- Why we like it – This tool is really simple and it’s also free. We really like the fact that there are live subtitles for the hearing impaired! They also have a private conversation feature to keep sensitive content private.
We hope this list is helpful and if there are any other tools that you think are helpful for school leadership teams, please share your ideas in the comments section below.
How can we help?
Are there any challenges that you’re experiencing as a school leader that we can help address in our blog or email newsletter? SuperEval is committed to supporting you through these times by providing you with helpful resources and ideas. Please comment below or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!