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Trust Agreement Toolbox final draft

Page history last edited by Ron Everett 8 years, 11 months ago


PCS Tool Kit for Effective Meetings

Committee Guidelines

Much of the work in the district is done in committees. The following guidelines outline some areas of importance to every committee, as well as to larger groups, such as subject area departments, grade level teams, and whole staff meetings:

Clarify Purpose

In order for a committee to function effectively, its purpose must be clearly understood and communicated to all members and all potential members. Some committees are primarily informational-gathering in purpose; others make important decisions for the district. Everyone on the committee and outside the committee needs to know the decision-making power of the committee.

The Trust Agreement Committee has adopted the following purpose statement:

The Trust Agreement Committee has defined its purpose as honoring, promoting and preserving our rich history of collaboration and dedication to education as a whole, using mutual respect and collegiality, while considering emerging issues regarding teaching and learning. The committee will provide the district community with advice and information and make decisions as appropriate to achieve its purpose.

Agree on Norms

Norms are the rules of behavior that will guide the committee’s process. Norms may be

developed by the committee itself, or adopted from an outside source or model. It is

essential that, whichever method is chosen, all committee members be aware of and in

agreement with the committee’s norms.

The Trust Agreement Committee has adopted the following norms:

  • Attend, be on time and take breaks as appropriate.

  • Listen actively and use paraphrasing.

  • Speak honestly and respectfully.

  • Make sure all voices are heard.

  • Maintain perspective and sense of humor.

  • Each person is responsible for the success of the meeting.

  • Work toward the future and learn from the past.

  • Keep focus on teaching and learning, what’s best for all students.

Clarify Committee Operating Structure

As with the committee’s purpose, the operating structure of the committee may be

expressed or implied in the process of its formation, it may be open to the committee’s

determination, or it may lie somewhere between the two. All committees should clarify

their operating structures, and the permanent or temporary roles that are necessary to

their efficient functioning, to the degree of precision that is appropriate to their purpose

and size.

The Trust Agreement Committees utilizes the following operating structure:

  • The meeting facilitator oversees the creation of our meeting calendar and the work of any subcommittees that have been established, and prepares the agenda and the minutes for each meeting.

  • The recorder takes notes on the meeting discussion and assists with facilitation and in preparing the meeting agendas and minutes.

  • Other committee members assist in various ways as may be necessary, such as facilitating parts of the meetings.

  • Adjunct committees may be formed to address specific topics and issues.

Clarify Principles of Representation & Attributes of Committee Members

Representation and attributes of committee members are areas that may be defined

for the committee, or may be open to its own determination. Again, it is important that

all committee members and all potential committee members are informed in writing

and understand the qualifications and principles for membership on the committee. Full

representation is vital to the success of a committee.

The Trust Agreement Committee has defined its principles and qualifications for representation as:

  • The Superintendent of Schools and the President of the Petaluma Federation of Teachers are members.

  • The Committee shall be composed of equal members of teaching and administrative staff (typically 12-14 members).

  • Petaluma Federation of Teachers will select teacher representatives and District Administration will select administrative representatives.

  • The Committee will strive to maintain a balance in its membership among the various district constituencies, including (but not limited to) elementary, secondary and alternative sites.

The Trust Agreement Committee has defined the attributes of committee members as:

  • Having a personal commitment to shared decision-making, and understanding that shared decision-making means being willing to listen to and respect all points of view, working toward consensus.

  • Making a personal commitment to having the time available to effectively participate in the committee’s work

  • Having at least 3 years of experience in the district

  • Seeing the big picture and working for the greater good of our learning community

  • Possessing a range of communication skills

  • Being a consensus builder

Communication Process

Guidelines for Communication

Effective communication is an ongoing process in which information travels back

and forth among all of the parties. This communication of information to and from the

committee is one of every member’s most important functions. Committees need to

clearly understand the opinions and concerns of their constituent groups in order to

make the appropriate decisions and those groups must understand clearly the purpose

and nature of those decisions in order to make them effective.

The accordion process is a metaphor for communicating information from a decision-

making group out to all the individuals affected by that group, and back to the group

from all the individuals. The process is repetitive: information goes out, with a request

for feedback; feedback is received and considered by the group; new information goes

out with the request for feedback. For the process to be effective, all the individuals

involved must receive the information and return feedback – which at times may simply

be the acknowledgement that the information was received. If there are time constraints

on the ability of the group to use the information, these must be clearly communicated

as well.

Committees will vary in the nature and extent of communication required, and some

guidelines to the use of various means of communication are offered below. Whichever

mode is chosen, it is essential that the members of both the committee and its

constituent groups clearly understand that the communication is on behalf of

the committee as a whole. In determining their communication strategy, committees

should keep in mind both the nature of the overall process of communication between

groups, and the advantages and the disadvantages of the different means of

communication available.

  • Oral Communication – Oral communication may take a variety of different

forms, from a one-to-one discussion to a report to a large group. In

discussing complex issues, subtle distinctions, and abstract or indirect

consequences, face-to-face communication is clearly most effective. It provides

opportunities to seek and give explanations and clarification that cannot be matched

by any other mode. However, it is also time-consuming, and becomes progressively

more ineffective the larger the number of people involved. It also may leave no

permanent record, which makes it impossible to verify that everyone received the

same message.

  • Telephone Communication – The telephone offers an immediate and direct

method of communication that is particularly efficient in terms of time, especially when dealing with a limited number of people. It is well suited to specific questions and relatively simple issues, but not as effective when working with multiple details or subtle distinctions. It also generally leaves no permanent record, and is more open to different understandings on the part of different listeners than any other mode.

  • Electronic Communication – If all of the parties involved have internet access,

then e-mail or electronic surveys can be a very effective way of sharing information with large groups of people. It carries the possibility of generating a permanent record, and can easily guarantee that everyone receives the same information. It is very well suited to specific questions and multiple details, but not as effective with subtleties or abstractions, and often ineffective when working with issues that carry a strong emotional charge.

  • Print Communication – Generally the most time-consuming form, in both the

creation and the delivery, printed communication also leaves the most reliable permanent record. Group decisions of any significance should always be recorded and available in print form. Print communication is adaptable to a wide range of issues, from simple and specific to detailed, complex or subtle; it is also a method that may be easily ignored by its recipients.

Feedback is an essential part of the communication process. Participating in feedback

during the process is the responsibility of every district member. Feedback may be

sought from constituents through a variety of strategies such as those listed above.

Whichever mode of communication is chosen, a mechanism for feedback must be


Committees are encouraged to post their meeting notes at all school sites in a specific

site location. Committee chairs are responsible for maintaining the records of past


The Trust Agreement Committee has adopted the following communication


  • The Trust Agreement Committee uses all the means of communication described above, choosing the most appropriate means for the issues under discussion.

  • At the conclusion of each meeting, the committee agrees on the message to be communicated, the means by which it will be shared, and the mechanism for feedback, when appropriate.

  • Trust Agreement meeting minutes will be distributed to each site for posting.

  • The Trust Agreement Committee has chosen a yearly report in the Pathfinder, the district newsletter, as its chief means of keeping everyone in the district informed of its goals and progress.



Created on 4/18/2008

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