Thursday, January 26, 2006

Good order in meetings

I'll admit it: I'm a bit of a meeting junkie. I've spent a significant part of my life caring about how meetings go, so now when I attend a meeting I find myself paying attention to the process that leads to the basic outcomes of the meeting.

Valley News Dispatch, Jan. 26, 2006, editorial p. A8 "An embarrassment"
The meeting culture I have encountered here in the Valley is, well, ... different from what that to which I have been accustomed. I have not been able to attend the local school board meetings, but the Valley News Dispatch has been describing those meetings in their articles.

Tuesday evening's meeting of the Highlands School Board was covered in this article, and was the topic of the editorial "An embarrassment" in today's paper.

I prefer to see more of a culture of respect in meetings, so I would second the editor's suggestions for the school board.

The presiding officer of the meeting is responsible for making sure the group stays in order and on task. He or she represents the unity of the group that is meeting, should show respect for all participants, should expect the same respect from them, and should require that they each show respect for one another. Observers should not be allowed to disrupt a meeting. The only person speaking should be the person recognized by the presiding officer.

I know people here in the Valley are capable of doing better than this week's school board meeting. I was pleasantly surprised by the efforts put forth by each of the members of the Tarentum Borough Council at their meeting last week.

Working toward a culture of respect simply takes time, energy, planning, and attention from all the participants in a meeting. It is well worth the investment.

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