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CONDUCTING PRODUCTIVE FACULTY MEETINGS VIA ZOOM

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           Studio owners, how often do you and your staff/faculty partake in studio staff meetings? Do you have a regimented protocol to keep abreast of the things currently going on and projections as such? If not, there are a million reasons to add these studio “touch-bases” to your agenda. Especially now when we are socially distanced, trying to maintain some normalcy and communication between faculty is paramount.

            The biggest issue among many businesses and their employees is often times a lack of communication or where people feel they are not on the same page. Messages don’t get read, expectations are unclear, and memos get lost in translation, among many other issues. Keeping your team on the same page with everyone traveling in the same direction is pivotal. Being transparent about the present status and where the studio is going in the long and short term is easily achieved through constant and consistent check-ups with faculty. It also allows them to vocalize their own concerns, opinions, issues and suggestions, so that you, as owner, are aware of the day to day on-goings as well.

            So how do you get started? Well the first thing to be mindful of is respecting people’s time. If you’re going to set a weekly or monthly meeting then you need to make it consistent and give fair warning in advance that this will be occurring as part of the studio norm in the beginning of the year. When and where will then meetings be held? How often will they be held? Who is required to attend? Make sure this information is emailed to everyone involved, with enough notice to schedule.

       The next thing to remember is that these meetings do not need to be (nor should be) lengthy meetings every week. Nobody wants to sit around a desk (or computer, via Zoom) with no agenda for the day and waste time. So, always plan to have a clear focus of things you want to review in the meeting. Prioritize and be flexible enough to realize that if a certain topic is taking a long time to get through then not every issue might be reached that day. Give these meetings some breathing room so that certain things can be bumped for discussion the following week. If these meetings do include faculty as well as staff then be prepared to compensate them for their time. Also, offering snacks and beverages creates a nice atmosphere which is welcoming and appreciative of them being there to participate.

            In order to have a successful staff meeting, the most important thing to remember is to outline what is up for discussion on a given day. As mediator of these meetings, what is the strategy? What topics are of relevance? Are they all coming from you? Do you have suggested issues that are brought up by faculty? How will you gather the topics for the meeting? Will faculty and/or staff be emailed asking for their input? Is there a signup sheet by the front desk? Keep in mind that while you are director, nobody at a meeting wants to sit there and be lectured, so the more collaborative and engaging the conversation is, the better results you will all have.

            The next thing to think about is what are you meeting about? Is it the current state of events? Future goals of the studio? Enrollment? Student issues? Scheduling? Budgeting? Increasing or revamping marketing strategies? Reorganizing end of year performances?  Costume issues? Teaching concerns? Increasing studio spirit? Fundraising? There are endless important topics that should and could be brought to the table so again, don’t feel overwhelmed to cram every one of them in. Take your time so that your entire staff walks away from one discussion feeling clear about the expectation set forth and agreed upon.

            Finally, typical meetings should make staff and faculty walk away and feel hopeful, positive, energized and excited about things going on at the studio. It is essential that they leave feeling like part of the team, where their suggestions and voices were heard; even when discussing honest reality of current situations. A successful staff meeting should inspire your faculty to want to implement all the ideas discussed; not leave there feeling even more frustrated, discouraged and confused than before it started. Faculty meetings should not only deconstruct what might not be going perfectly at your studio, but also what is going very, very right. Take this as an opportunity to build camaraderie and teamwork and offer appreciation for everyone’s dedication. When you are all on the same page communicating effectively, there are no limits of where your studio can go and grow! More than ever, communication and teamwork is key!

Good luck!

See you in the dance studio,

Jess

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Author

Jessica Rizzo Stafford

Jessica Rizzo Stafford

Jessica Rizzo Stafford is a native New Yorker and graduate of NYU Steinhardt's Dance Education Master’s Program; with a PK-12 New York State Teaching Certification. Her double-concentration Master’s Degree includes PK-12 pedagogy and dance education within the higher-education discipline. She also holds a BFA in dance performance from the UMASS Amherst 5 College Dance Program where she was a Chancellor's Talent Award recipient. Jess now works extensively with children, adolescents and professionals as choreographer and teacher and conducts national and international master-classes specializing in the genres of modern, contemporary, musical theatre and choreography-composition. Jess’ national and international performance career includes works such as: The National Tour of Guys & Dolls, The European Tour of Grease, West Side Story, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, Salute to Dudley Moore at Carnegie Hall, guest-dancer with the World Famous Pontani Sisters and IMPULSE Modern Dance Company. Jess has been a faculty member for the Perichild Program & Peridance Youth Ensemble & taught contemporary and jazz at the historic New Dance Group and 92nd Street Y in NYC. She was Company Director at the historic Steffi Nossen School of Dance/Dance in Education Fund and in 2008 traveled to Uganda where she taught creative-movement to misplaced children. The experience culminated with Jess being selected as a featured instructor at the Queen's Kampala Ballet & Modern Dance School. She has conducted workshops for the cast of LA REVE at the Wynn, Las Vegas and recently taught at the 2011 IDS International Dance Teacher Conference at The Royal Ballet in London, UK. She is also on faculty for the annual Dance Teacher Web Conferences in Las Vegas, NV. Currently, Jess is a faculty member at the D'Valda & Sirico Dance & Music Centre and master teacher & adjudicator for various national and international dance competitions. Recently, she has finished her NYU Master’s thesis research on the choreographic process of technically advanced adolescent dancers and is the creator of “PROJECT C;” a choreography-composition curriculum for the private studio sector. Jess is also faculty member, contributing writer and presenter in the choreography and “how to” teaching segments on the celebrated danceteacherweb.com. For more info, visit her website at www.jrizzo.net.

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