Student-led meetings

I think I mentioned before that my supervisor is on vacation right now. Which, for the most part, doesn’t change anything in the way we operate. In fact, the one part this usually changes is our weekly meetings. Normally (or at least what was the norm), we would cancel our meetings for the weeks our supervisor couldn’t make it. This time, because we have two high school students, and the vacation is going to cover most of the weeks they’re here, we decided to have the meetings anyway.

We don’t actually have a “senior PhD student” in our group. We have multiple PhD students, but two of us started at the same time, and are therefore “equally senior.” However, I lucked out as being the one assigned to run the meetings. Mainly because I’m much more vocal during the meetings. 😛

Our meetings are scheduled for one hour. Normally we take somewhere between 1.5 – 2 hours for them. We figured with it being just us students, we would definitely be done in under an hour. Nope. This week we took just over two hours. And, it was actually a productive meeting. All but one of us had demos or something to show. We had a good discussion about how one part of a program is being implemented, and even discussed using the white board whether or not the solution that had been decided on previously still made sense (it does). One student has a  frustrating bug in his code he hasn’t been able to figure out, but we think we came up with a likely solution as to what’s going wrong, and therefore how he can fix it. Which will hopefully save him what might be days of frustrations, as it looks to be an easy fix. We spent about 40 minutes going over a poster for another student, with almost everyone contributing suggestions (which doesn’t normally happen in our meetings, as there are a few students who are quite quiet). All in all it was a great meeting.

One thing I introduced at the meeting last week, was having everyone state a goal for the next weeks meeting. One of those “I hope to accomplish x” type goals. So this meeting, I reminded people of what their goal was (most met it, I was one of the few who didn’t quite meet mine :(), and we made a new set for next week. Depending on how next week’s meeting goes, I might suggest to my supervisor that we do this each week. I think having made that verbal commitment to the rest of the group, everyone was feeling a lot more focused and wanting to make sure that they showed up and accomplished what they said they were going to do. Or at least had put a good effort forward. I know I really want to meet my goal for next week. Which is going to be tough, but it’s the carrot for when I start lacking motivation.

So, you’re turn. Have you ever run group meetings? Or do you meet with anyone regularly? Do you have any specific tips/tricks that you use in these meetings to keep you motivated?

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