The Icarus agenda

Today, in between working with students on their college application essay drafts, and seeing Gamma, who will be visiting campus with her almost-two-month-old baby, I’m going to meet with Dr. Tea to rough out a plan for the first department meeting, which is on Tuesday.  The school has blocked out two hours for this meeting, which makes it one of the longest department meetings of the year–certainly long enough to do some type of activity as well as the usual announcements and discussions.

Looking back over last year’s meeting minutes, I’m noticing that there are three types of business at our meetings:

  • Social–welcoming new colleagues, thanking colleagues for their service, sharing news (which might include professional development stuff or just what we did over the summer).  This is important in part because we don’t meet as a full (6th-12th) department very often, and we can miss big things.
  • Administrative–announcements, requests, distributing small duties.  Sometimes taken care of efficiently, sometimes requiring discussions.
  • Developmental–by this, I mean professional development, curriculum development, self-study, sharing of best lessons, etc.  We have often shared what we plan to do with summer reading and, by extension, our visions for the year in our courses.  It’s a chance to learn what’s going on in other grades than the ones we teach and also to catch glimpses of how it all fits together.  That’s important to me since I’m still working on understanding that myself, and have a strong sense that we could all improve our sense of the big picture and create better continuity in our classes.  That’s probably my biggest interest as department chair.

So I’m thinking about how to use the time (though probably not all of it), and what tone I want to set, and also kind of seeing it through the eyes of our new colleagues–what do I want to show them about who we are and where we’re going?


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