Departmental Meetings (including agenda template)

Departmental Meetings (including meeting agenda)

This document is the meeting agenda document I use for Diploma Programme Departmental meetings. 

Subject Department meetings are an important way of ensuring collaboration with teachers in each department, allowing for both horizontal and vertical planning.

The subject department meetings are a good chance to find out how a variety of areas of the course are progressing and to exchange ideas and information on the students progress. The meetings provide opportunities to discuss and respond to any issues with the teaching and learning within the course. pacing of the course, especially if there are teachers who have taught the course before who can advise newer staff members.

The meetings are held every three weeks (it was previously every two weeks). I create an agenda the week before and email it out to teachers, inviting them to add agenda items.

To give meetings a firm focus on curriculum matters I have created a DP meeting agenda handout which is emailed to staff at the start of the DP meeting week, giving them a chance to add any items they would like to discuss.

The document includes the following areas which commonly occur during departmental meetings, depending on the time of year:

  • Approaches to Teaching and Learning
  • CAS
  • Course Pacing
  • Peer observations
  • Evaluation
  • Exams
  • Homework
  • Internal Assessments
  • Internal Assessment dates and forms
  • International Mindedness
  • Lesson Observations
  • Moderation
  • Reports
  • Resources
  • Sharing good practice
  • Student concerns
  • Teacher Observations
  • TOK

Here is an overview of how each agenda item can be build into the meetings:

  • Approaches to Teaching and Learning: An opportunity to share ideas on the approaches to teaching and learning that are being focused on as a whole staff. It is a good idea to put the approach to teaching and learning into each subject`s context and allow the teachers to discuss their strengths and weaknesses within each subject, which allows them to learn from each other and to enable future planning.
  • CAS: Meetings provide a chance to discuss potential CAS activities that can evolve from the present curriculum being studied in the subject. The Possible CAS Links handout here is used so staff can build a list of CAS activities, which can be shared with the students during lessons, both during lessons and through the CAS guidebook. Meetings are also a good time to reflect on previous CAS activities that have been used from the subject.

  • Course Pacing: At the start of meetings I go over the yearly overviews which can be found here to see where departments are regarding the pacing of their courses. Meeting time can be given to making any necessary updates and changes to the pacing.
  • The Evaluation: Departmental meetings are a good chance for the department to go through part C of the self-study. Teachers can use the time to collect evidence and give the department a grade for each sub section of parts C1-C4. Please see the Evaluation Visit folder in this website for more information.
  • Exams: Meetings provide a good time for the department to both plan for, and reflect on end of term / year exams. Reflecting on exam results gives the department the chance to identify and areas where students have struggled and then review their teaching and curriculum. Exam results also allow staff to form focus groups of students who have under performed in the exams or are on the borderline between grades. Analysing mock exam results allows the teachers to plan the final months of teaching and the revision timetable in order to meet the needs of the students based on their performance. More on exam analysis can be found here.
  • Homework: Types of homework which have and haven`t worked well can be discussed at meetings. The meetings provide a good opportunity to share student responses to homework, allowing other staff members to see the student progress and gain an idea of their understanding of the task. Teachers can share experiences on the types of homework that work for certain parts of the course. A homework activity for meetings can be found here.
  • Internal Assessments: Planning the date of internal assessments can be done at meetings. It is a good chance for teachers to pass on their experience of the best time in the course to give the assessments, which also allows the coordinator to have an overview of the assessments going on throughout the programme. The Assessment Deadlines document here on this website is an Internal Assessment timetable document that can be created as a result of discussion within meetings. I have shared the document with parents and students so that all are aware of important deadline. The Coordinator can also use the document to make sure that the assessments are spread out fairly and there aren`t times when students are overburdened. It is important to allow departments to work together to plan for assessments (It is a good ideas to go over the whole picture at whole staff meetings to see how many assessments are coming up in the next month or so).
  • International Mindedness: Meetings are a good time to discuss upcoming international events and issues and how they can be build into each subject`s units of work). It is also a good idea to see if any work can be put on the International Mindedness display board, if your school has one.
  • Lesson Observations: Department meetings allow the staff to go prepare for upcoming observations, as there can be times when it is beneficial to the teachers to have an agreed focus throughout the department. This can be done through agreeing a focus of the observation that will be beneficial for not only the subject for the department as a whole. Observation focuses include differentiation, Approaches to Teaching and Learning and links to TOK. The lesson observation handout is discuss in more detail in here.
  • Moderation: The meetings allow teachers to moderate work. It is a good idea to agree which work is going to be moderated in the previous meeting to allow teachers to moderate in their own time (following the moderation process document here) and come to the meeting ready to share grades and give their justifications.
  • Reports: While advice on writing reports is usually done in whole staff meetings, analyzing report data in departmental meetings is beneficial to get an overview of the students` performance and progress within the subject. This is particularly useful when discussing whether further intervention is needed for the student in the subject. The writing reports support document can be found here.
  • Resources: Meetings are a good chance for teachers to share resources that are working well in lessons. I have also used meetings as a chance to improve resources such as feedback handouts, editing them based on the skills of the teachers and needs of the students. 
  • Sharing good practice: Sharing good practice in meetings gives teachers the opportunity to teach, coach and learn from each other. It allows teachers to share what is working well in their classes, which can then be shared in whole staff meetings, allowing the resources to be used in other subjects where appropriate. It works well to allow teachers to say parts of their lessons or curriculum where they feel they need support and for the rest of the department to bring resources / good practice to the next meeting, which can then be discussed.

  • Student concerns: Meetings are a good chance to talk about students who are causing concern, through either their academic performance, behaviour, or a non-curricular issue. Student concerns that have been raised at whole staff meetings can be discussed in more detail in department meetings, with teachers and the coordinator creating subject specific action plans if required. If a teacher is having difficulties with a student in the subject, other teachers can lend their experiences on how to make the learning more accessible for the student, or if it`s a behaviour issue, different strategies can be discussed. The Classroom Management strategies document, which can be found here, can be put into the subject`s context as a further support for students.

  • Teacher Observations: It is beneficial to have an Approach to Teaching and Learning focus for formal lesson observations. This focus can be a departmental focus based on assessment results, previous observations or teacher suggestions. Departmental meetings are a good chance to talk through the lesson observation process with teachers and to decide whether a departmental focus is appropriate. Other focuses can include CAS, TOK or Learner profile or International Mindedness links to the lessons.

  • TOK: Similar to student concerns, cross-curricular TOK session are given at whole staff meetings. Department meetings give each department more time to work through the cross-curricular TOK document, which can be found here Teachers can share ideas of how to make TOK links within their department and to put them on their unit plans. The Coordinator can amalgamate these ideas and share the ones that can be transferred to other subjects with the appropriate teachers. Department meetings can also be used for teachers to go through the prescribed titles and discuss how they could be applied to their subject.

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