#PrincipalHacks: 7 Tips for Virtual Meetings, from Your Fellow School Leaders

The challenges presented by COVID-19 are changing what it means to connect with your school community. Already, your fellow lead learners are doing what leaders do: finding a way. 

From offering emotional support at a distance to making sure everyone feels comfortable with new technology, you’re figuring out ways to provide support for kids and families to set up infrastructures for digital learning. As you fine-tune your online communication, here are some tips from your fellow school leaders on making online staff meetings as smooth and productive as possible:

Digital Proficiency Tips

Allow for the first 10 minutes of the meeting for people to figure out their video and audio (For example, if they’ve got kiddos at home they can have their audio muted until they want to talk.). I’ve had meetings with 2-12 people at a time, and our staff has been rocking and rolling at it!! As always, a shared agenda sure helps guide the discussion (as well as the ‘share screen’ option on Zoom).”

––Carissa Dickes, Middle School Assistant Principal in Kansas City, KS

Use the ‘chat’ feature for large meetings for questions and comments. Designate someone other than the presenter to monitor the questions.” 

—Ebony E. Griffin, Elementary School Assistant Principal in Yorktown, VA

“Here’s what worked to get everyone started for our Friday staff meeting:

1. Send invite in advance with directions on how to download Zoom (or whatever platform you’re using);

2. Use “Mute All” feature to begin meeting;

3. Create discussion topics for BreakOut Rooms for staff to discuss;

4. Use Kahoot! to play a game with staff, with fun questions that also give you a read on the teachers, such as “What song are you feeling like as you begin your remote learning experience?”

We also had our entire staff complete two virtual check-ins via Google Form, so we could call those who still needed assistance or needed someone to speak with.”

––Bobby Dodd, High School Principal in Mason, OH

“Some of my staff have fears and anxieties about technology. I am going to do 1:1 Zoom meetings to show them how to use certain applications. Also, I am identifying other teachers who are more comfortable with technology to assist with supporting teachers.” 

—Ashley L. Moore, K-8 Principal in Baltimore, MD

Virtual Community Building Tips

“I think it’s so important to be intentional about just checking on everyone. It’s fine to have an agenda, but we need time to make sure everyone is okay during this crazy time. During meetings, I try to get everyone to tell me something good that has happened since our last talk. I also balance our virtual meetings with phone calls to each individual.” 

—Trent Hamilton, Middle School Principal in Tom Bean, TX

I believe that the most important thing I can do to support teachers is to keep my open door policy. This week, I’m focused on their mental health and what I can do to support them. So far, I have utilized the ‘share screen’ feature to help guide teachers in this technological journey.”

––Carl Cruthis, High School Assistant Principal in Jacksonville, NC

“SANDWICH! Start and end with kudos and shoutouts, and in the middle, share new information and concerns. Online teaching may be ‘extra’ and scary to teachers who feel overwhelmed by new systems and processes that were swiftly put in place. If we start and end meetings with kudos and shoutouts, the harder issues are sandwiched between the good!”

—Victoria Welling, K-8 Principal in Las Vegas, NV

What advice would you add to this list? Share in the comments or with your fellow school leaders in the #PrincipalProject community!