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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Public Work: Open Meetings and Presentations?

I've started watching the school committee meetings to learn of system-wide initiatives, debate, and ideas. The meetings truly are democracy in action as the members discuss a large number of issues. I am thankful that there are people in the community willing to volunteer their time to serve in this capacity, and I think it's great that anyone can attend and participate in a meeting.

The fact that the meetings are videotaped or shown live gives anyone with a television in the community or anyone elsewhere with a computer the chance to watch and listen as well. There are many, many rules to follow as the school committee navigates each meeting.

I wonder what it would be like if we had the chance to watch more committee meetings. Would we want to watch multiple meetings? What would be the benefit? For example, if you served on a policy or regulation committee, would it be beneficial to tape your meetings or would that be too much information share? Would the public sharing of your discussion and debate serve to diminish your openness and idea flow? I'm sure there's a good balance between the benefits of open meetings and the need for more private, idea share, and debate.

Debates about open meetings and share like this are occurring in many professions. Some police are videotaped no matter what they do, others feel that too much videotaping has the chance to impact community policing in less than desirable ways. Some teachers are very comfortable with videotaping their lessons, and others are not. There are many reasons for this.

As you can see from this post, I haven't thought a lot about this in the past, yet this is an important factor in the work we do. Are we willing to stand by our word, efforts, and attitudes whether it's in public or at a more private meeting or space? Does our work reflect our best ability and intent?

This year I'm increasing students' opportunities to develop their presentation skills. I may, if time and will permit, ask individuals if they'd like to be videotaped during their presentations after they've had the chance to practice and learn about presentation quality and preparation. I think it's a good idea for all young children to have a chance to develop these skills as they move forward in a world which will, in many cases, call them to lead and participate in open public meetings and work.

I'll continue to think about this in days to come, let me know if you have related thoughts or experiences?