Sunday, June 03, 2007

Take A Meeting

We have become a world filled with meetings. There are meetings for planning, meetings for training, meetings to plan for meetings! No organization seems to be able to run anymore without heaping on meetings.

Take the church for instance. Elder Henry B. Eyring reminded us the November 1996 General Conference: “Prophets in our time have consolidated our meetings on Sunday to allow time for families to be together.” Yet this morning, three of my teenage sons are already at the church—four hours before our block starts—attending a training meeting. Once this meeting is done, they will be off doing fast offerings. Tonight there is a Stake Fireside kick-off to this week’s Youth Conference which takes them out of town for two days, after an evening of doing service projects in the neighborhood. Last night, one of the boys had a meeting to plan this morning’s meeting, and a phone call earlier today confirmed that all three of the boys have an extra meeting every Sunday this month except for Father’s Day, which is always our stake conference. So, would someone please remind me, when we are supposed to have extra family time on Sunday?

Church isn’t the only place we’ve become meeting-happy. I teach school and it seems that preparing lessons and spending quality time in my classroom isn’t enough, despite the fact that my students’ scores on the time-wasting tests are sky-high. Last year we started collaboration—which so far has meant that my former student teacher tries to tell our entire department what to do. Next year, the district has found this extra meeting to be so important that we have a late-start every Wednesday—more time away from teaching—so the teachers can meet to collaborate (lock-step might be a better description of the intention in my opinion). Isn’t is amazing that I’ve survived 28 years of successful teaching without this extra weekly meeting?

Then there are board meetings. I’m on several boards for education-related organizations. What used to be monthly on-line meetings for one board is once again swaying toward in-person meetings that require members to travel from the far reaches of the state for an hour of face-to-face. Another local board calls for a small group (3-5 people) to meet at a central location each month, despite the fact that a conference phone call or e-mail could handle all of the decisions in a matter of minutes.

Add to this the meetings we have to attend as parents (state-required SEOPs four times a year per child, for example), and the list of places we have to be can suddenly become overwhelming! Is it any wonder people skip out, don’t participate, or are always running late? Obviously, they are scheduled for too many meetings!

How I long for the good old days, when life seemed to go along smoothly and was not run by a day-planner scheduled full of excess meetings that some leader has deemed as vital to the success of their program.

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