our memories are inordinately affected
by the end of an experience. We are
usually unaware of this phenomenon.
Remember me wanting to improve
my meetings? Like John Travolta’s character in Urban Cowboy, I have been
looking in all the wrong places for what
I want. When I plan my meetings, I
give a great deal of attention to how
meetings begin. I think a lot about my
opening and the tone that I want to
create. I ponder the best way to get my
teachers engaged, and I frame tasks so
they will be challenged and successful.
We never seem to have enough time,
so at the conclusion of the meeting, I
quickly thank everyone for participating
and dismiss them. But if I want teachers
to reflect positively on the meeting and
look forward to gathering again, then
concluding by simply thanking people,
necessary as it is, isn’t adequate.
Now as I plan faculty meetings,
I build in time near the end so that
we can leave on a positive note. I ask
teachers to reflect on what they learned
and to envision how it can help them be
more effective. Then I have them turn
to a neighbor and share something good
about the meeting. And I remind them
to grab any uneaten food as they leave.
I hope that reflecting on the good
parts of the meeting—and leaving with
some good food in hand—will give
them positive memories of the whole
diversity of thought.