“Meetings are supposed to improve creativity and productivity – but they do the opposite when they’re excessive, badly scheduled, poorly run, or all three.”
Leslie Perlow, Eunice Eun, and Constance Noonan Hadley (see item #1)
“Teachers, for the most part, have little idea how students talk or what students actually talk about when they work in groups.”
Al Rudnitsky, Cate Barclay, and Lauren Binger (see item #3)
“If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he’s sexually magnetic.”
Jerry Useem (see item #4)
“My early training as an improviser got me used to the idea of uncertainty and the value of the imperfect. Everything is a stepping-stone to something else, whether it’s perfect or lousy. I’m always looking to get better. It will never be perfect.”
Alan Alda in “Life’s Work,” an interview with Alison Beard in Harvard Business
Review, July/August 2017 (Vol. 95, #4, p. 152), https://hbr.org/2017/07/alan-alda
“For adults to hand over responsibility for educating young people about romantic love – and sex – to popular culture is a dumbfounding abdication of responsibility.”
Richard Weissbourd, Trisha Ross Anderson, Alison Cashin, and Joe McIntyre (see #2)
“Ironically, as girls and young women continue to make great gains in school and work – outperforming boys in school, outnumbering them in college, outpacing them in many professional fields – the more subordinate many appear to be in some aspects of their romantic and sexual relationships, and the more subject many appear to be to certain forms of degradation.”
Richard Weissbourd, Trisha Ross Anderson, Alison Cashin, and Joe McIntyre (ibid.)
“Meetings are supposed to improve creativity and productivity – but they do the opposite when they’re excessive, badly scheduled, poorly run, or all three,” say Leslie Perlow and Eunice Eun (Harvard Business School) and Constance Noonan Hadley (Boston University) in this Harvard Business Review article. One executive they interviewed described stabbing herself in the leg with a pencil to stop from screaming during a particularly tortuous meeting.
But despite the amount of grumbling about meetings, they keep happening, consuming hundreds of hours a year. That’s because it’s assumed that meetings are necessary for communication, alignment around the mission, collaboration, innovation, and including everyone in decisions. One executive said he was okay with the “cultural tax” imposed by meetings because of what he hoped they would accomplish.
Most leaders have heard the standard suggestions for making meetings bearable – have a clear agenda, do stand-up meetings, reach closure, etc. But Perlow, Eun, and Hadley believe these Band-Aids won’t prevent the downsides of badly run meetings:
“The Talk” by Richard Weissbourd with Trisha Ross Anderson, Alison Cashin, and Joe McIntyre, Making Caring Common Project, June 2017,
https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/files/gse-mcc/files/mcc_the_talk_final.pdf; Weissbourd can be
reached at [email protected].
In this article in Middle School Journal, Al Rudnitsky and Cate Barclay (Smith College) and Lauren Binger (Mohawk Regional School, Massachusetts) discuss the challenge of getting middle-school students to be successful participants in collaborative learning groups. “Teachers, for the most part, have little idea how students talk or what students actually talk about when they work in groups,” say Rudnitsky, Barclay, and Binger. “Efforts by teachers to shape group discourse proceed without the benefit of being able to actually listen in on groups talking.”
By placing audio recorders in all the groups within several classrooms, the authors were able to listen in on student discourse and were struck by significant variations in quality: “The assigned task may be the same for all groups,” they say, “but how students are talking and what they are talking about varies widely from group to group. It is reasonable to wonder whether learning is taking place no matter the specifics of the talk.”
Drawing on research on classroom discourse, Rudnitsky, Barclay, and Binger identified three types of small-group interaction:
How did the workshop go? Rudnitsky, Barclay, and Binger looked over students’ shoulders during the five lessons, examined their written work, and were pleased by students’ insights and progress (they plan to do further research on long-term benefits). Some samples from fifth and sixth graders reflecting at the end of the workshop:
“Power Causes Brain Damage” by Jerry Useem in The Atlantic, July/August 2017 (Vol. 320, #1, p. 24-26), http://theatln.tc/2rtVP2b
In this Cult of Pedagogy article, Jennifer Gonzalez interviews Angela Watson on why so many teachers don’t take better care of themselves. Some reasons:
In this Harvard Business Review article, editor Daniel McGinn synthesizes research from the business world, the military, and sports on the key elements of an effective motivational speech:
• Give direction. The leader tells precisely how to do the task at hand with easily understandable instructions, a clear definition of tasks (Here’s what I’m asking you to do…), and detail on how performance will be evaluated.
• Express empathy. The leader shows concern for the performers as human beings, which may include praise, encouragement, gratitude, and an acknowledgement of the difficulty of the task. I know this is a challenge, but I trust you can do it. How are we all doing? Your well-being is one of my top priorities.
• Make meaning. The leader says why the task matters (Here’s why this is important…), linking it to the organization’s purpose or mission and the individual’s key role, and expressing confidence in success (I know you can do it.). One way to do this is telling stories about people who’ve worked hard and succeeded, also how the work makes a difference to others.
Including all three elements is important, says McGinn, but the mix will be different with each group: “Experienced workers who are doing a familiar task may not require much direction. Followers who are already tightly bonded with a leader may require less empathetic language. Meaning making is useful in most situations, but may need less emphasis if the end goals of the work are obvious.”
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About the Marshall Memo
Mission and focus:
This weekly memo is designed to keep principals, teachers, superintendents, and others very well-informed on current research and effective practices in K-12 education. Kim Marshall, drawing on 48 years’ experience as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, consultant, and writer, lightens the load of busy educators by serving as their “designated reader.”
To produce the Marshall Memo, Kim subscribes to 60 carefully-chosen publications (see list to the right), sifts through more than a hundred articles each week, and selects 5-10 that have the greatest potential to improve teaching, leadership, and learning. He then writes a brief summary of each article, pulls out several striking quotes, provides e-links to full articles when available, and e-mails the Memo to subscribers every Monday evening (with occasional breaks; there are 50 issues a year).
Individual subscriptions are $50 for a year. Rates decline steeply for multiple readers within the same organization. See the website for these rates and how to pay by check, credit card, or purchase order.
If you go to http://www.marshallmemo.com you will find detailed information on:
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• Publications (with a count of articles from each)
• Topics (with a count of articles from each)
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Core list of publications covered
Those read this week are underlined.
All Things PLC
American Educational Research Journal
American Journal of Education
ASCA School Counselor
District Management Journal
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Elementary School Journal
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Educational Review
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (JESPAR)
Kappa Delta Pi Record
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School
Middle School Journal
Peabody Journal of Education
Phi Delta Kappan
Principal’s Research Review
Reading Research Quarterly
Responsive Classroom Newsletter
Review of Educational Research
School Library Journal
Teaching Children Mathematics
Teaching Exceptional Children
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Journal of the Learning Sciences
The Language Educator
The Learning Professional (formerly Journal of Staff Development)
The Reading Teacher
Theory Into Practice