Truth be told, I don’t attend a great deal of meetings. Don’t get me wrong. I like meetings when they are properly scheduled and serve a purpose other than to just disseminate information (Just send me an email, OK?).
Last month’s school leadership meeting was the background for an interesting dynamic that occurred. Of the eleven professionals that sat around a rectangular table constructed from several smaller student desks, five individuals sat with laptops open and operational (I was, of course, one of the five).
With our discussion about engaging students in their own learning (I think cell phones had something to do with it) in full swing, a colleague noted that she was frustrated by the fact that I was hiding behind the computer screen and she couldn’t fully see my face. It was difficult for her to tell if I was engaged; if I cared about the discussion at all. (At this point in the meeting, I had offered a couple of thoughts and suggestions and was responsible for the current direction of the meeting.) A colleague immediately came to my defence denouncing the fact that she, too, was multi-tasking and had been actively engaged in the discussion.
The colleague who called me out was a thirty-plus year teacher who was currently several years in a non-enrolling position. At the time, I didn’t think much of her observation, but upon reflection I wonder:
Was I being rude by not following the conversation with greater (perceived) attention? Maybe the laptop was a distraction to others and I need to be more cognizant of this fact?
Or was she just showing both her inability and reluctance to acknowledge the changing face of meetings? Of what is happening in our classrooms?