“Have you ever been in a meeting that didn’t go well? I know, silly question. What about this – have you ever been in a meeting that DID go well? And why, if your experiences have been anything like mine, are the good meetings so much rarer than the bad ones? More importantly, what can we do to flip the script – to move meetings from being a waste of time to being powerful tools for organizational improvement? Today’s episode is going to help you do just that!”

~ Frederick Buskey, Show Notes from The Assistant Principal Podcast, Episode 169, “The why and how of meetings” with NSRF’s Executive Director, Michele Mattoon

In a podcast shared October 17th, 2023, NSRF’s Michele Mattoon connected with Frederick Buskey, strategic leadership consultant and founder of APEx, a dynamic community and group mentoring for assistant principals. Michele and Frederick discussed excellent solutions for approaching and solving common problems in professional meetings and group work. Michele shared her expertise and insights regarding structured conversations and simple tools, like chiming timers, to create meetings that are inclusive and productive.

Enjoy the podcast through one of the multiple links shared below! Contact us using this form if you’d like to know more or send Michele a direct email at michele@nsrfharmony.org. If you’re interested in becoming a coach skilled in structured meetings and the understanding of Critical Friends Group work, check out upcoming open CFG Coaches trainings for individuals here or, if you’d like to learn more about bringing NSRF trainings to your organization, read more here, email nsrf@nsrfharmony.org, or call us at 812-330-2702.

More Show Notes from “The why and how of meetings” on The Assistant Principal podcast

“Michele Mattoon is the executive director of the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF). She works with schools and educators across the country and around the world to implement Critical Friends Group Trainings, strategic planning sessions, and other work relating to collaborative learning.

Michele is also the president and owner of Coltrain Group, a consulting firm that offers facilitation and mediation services, as well as tailored collaborative trainings to businesses and other organizations outside the education arena.

Michele is obsessed with intentionally building healthy, productive communities through specific collaborative structures. As such, she is the primary editor of NSRF’s training handbooks and the author of many articles, protocols, and activities dedicated to this topic.

Michele and I talked briefly after the show and for our next recording we will dive into how to manage ‘those people’ who can make meetings a nightmare. If there are specific examples or behaviors you would like us to address, please email them to me at fb.com so we can address them on the show. Have them to me by October 31, 2023 for inclusion on the show.”    ~ Frederick Buskey

Notable Quotes


  • “That is two hours of my life I am never going to get back!”
  • Bad meetings: “It’s a human being problem. It’s not an education problem, it’s a human being problem.”
  • “Nothing breaks trust faster than a leader who says, ‘We are going to make a decision’.. and then makes the decision themselves.”
  • “The ramifications of not being clear are huge.”
  • “If you are going to give a deadline, you need to keep the deadline.”
  • “We are so conditioned to a bell, that we will stop [when it rings].”
  • “We need to know who’s responsible and when the deadline is.”
  • “A big part of leadership is just being clear and organized and communicating just enough.”
  • “If we have to make up a story because no one told us, then it’s much more likely to be a negative story than a positive one.”
  • “If you don’t have a system for it, it’s not going to get done.”


  • “It seems like there are two kinds of meetings – one where there is an assumed purpose… and standing meetings, which can be some of the worst ones.”
  • “We need specific clarity, so people know why they are coming.”
  • “One of the most neglected parts of a meeting is assigning who is responsible and when the deadline is.”
  • “It’s amazing how many people would talk something to death in a meeting, but when you ask them, “Is it worth emailing me over this?” they don’t; they are fine.”
  • “When we had no items on the agenda, we just were covering things and not doing meaningful work.”

Listen to the entire podcast below through Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or on The Assistant Principal Podcast website