Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Meetings

I have sat through a lot of meetings in my lifetime. I have run my fair share of them, as well. I expect meetings to be well-run, well-organized, productive, and short. I can waste my own time, thankyouverymuch (that is my choice), but YOU are not allowed to waste my time, and I will do my level best not to waste yours.

So imagine my dismay when I went to a meeting last night. It was for GATE (Gifted and Talented Education), so I (mistakenly) had expectations that it would meet my standards. Ahhh, the naivete! The notice said 5:30. I got there late (AT 5:30) because of traffic outside HP Pavilion. The door was locked, despite the fact that the meeting organizer said she would station someone at the door. Finally I get in when someone else leaves the building and rush upstairs, prepared to apologize profusely for my tardiness at my first meeting.

They are just setting up. It is 5:40. Finally people sit down and get started. No formalities, no introductions, just straight into meeting stuff. I think to myself, "Okay, I'll just dive in," and I listen intently. We are talking about some event where various educational groups come and have a fair of sorts for gifted kids and their parents to explote summer and after-school enrichmnet activities. More and more people come in -- only one of them merits an introduction. I make a mental note to find out why. (Turns out he's very professional, highly intelligent, thoughtful, and keeps his comments brief. No wonder he's high profile.)

As the discussion goes on and we turn to what appears to be the actual agenda, I gradually become aware that the meeting that was supposed to start at 5:30 that actually started sometime after 5:40 was a Committee meeting. Oh. But as we are in the actual meeting now (still no introductions or formalities with the brief exception of someone asking me who I am), I keep still and pay attention. Best not to rock the boat when one is new, right?

The woman leading the meeting is odd. She cracks lame sarcastic jokes, after which she pauses uncomfortably for just a tad too long, then says, "Just joking." Not really funny at all, unless you mean funny peculiar, which it is.

Then comes a discussion of an upcoming conference in Palm Springs. Sad thing is, it becomes clear to those of us who are new slowly, like they don't want to just come out and say, "There is a conference in Palm Springs early next March. Topics will include X and Y, and it is a worthwhile opportunity. The school district will fund transportation and hotel (no meals) for two people. is anyone interested?" Instead, it took 15 minutes to get all those points across.

Finally, as we are nearing time for adjourning (do you adjourn a meeting that was never called to order?), another newbie comments that it seems all the GATE reps from all the schools in the district are reinventing the wheel and perhaps it would be good to have a central place to put resources and share them. Amen! Excuses and digressions follow. I feel I must add my opinion to the mix, letting loose a (small) tirade expressing all I have just written, endiung with, "If you are not seeing many people at these meetings, maybe it's because they came once, found it to be as disorganized as I do, and never came back. Frankly, I'm almost afraid to come back." I add (and oh, how I wish I hadn't!) that my time is valuable, as is everyone else's, and that since I am a stay-at-home mom I, while I am still a busy woman, may have more free time that everyone else, and wasting time is disrespectful. President then launches into a description of the time she took to create a "FAQ" sheet for parents at the school she represents, she WORKS full time (let us not go there right now, dear reader), she is very busy, here is this LOVELY document, etc. etc.

Whereupon I say, "Great. So you already did this, it's terrific. This is exactly what HE (indicating newbie guy) was just saying. Why is this not available for all of us? Why can't we just take basic info and personalize it for our school?"

And all of a sudden, the meeting was over. We moved downstairs to a lecture for all district GATE parents, I grabbed the handouts, and left. Ohmygod, I do NOT have the stomach for this.

5 comments:

  1. Hang in there. You are a sensitive gifted person, and your input is invaluable. The trouble is that the not-so-gifted are better at politics and organizing so tend to rise to the top of these groups. If you can stand it, take over!

    Best,
    Joanna

    ReplyDelete
  2. Remember Margaret P? She's a big gifted advocate. You poor dear stuck in a room full o'Margarets! But take heart...you're coming back here in a few months.

    Also...replace "traffic" with "deserted street in Ktown" and "GATE" with "my church" and "conference" with "stupid dinner" and we'll have had the same last meeting. Yay us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ouch, Jennifer....sorry you had to sit through that crap. Wish you would have REALLY given them the what for! heheee.....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Should I send you a Dummies book on how to run a meeting and you can casually leave it on the table or throw it at them and hit them in the head--your choice.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You remind me so much of my co-worker. She says what is on her mind and can't stand people who don't get right to the point! LOL.

    I'm such a wimp. I could have never said that in a meeting, though I would have been thinking the same thing.

    I hope that your comments makes the next meetings better.

    Briana (from scrapjazz)

    ReplyDelete