Although these grown-up meetings with people who have "real" jobs have an agenda we may go back and forth from item to item. There's debate, people share their thoughts, think-out-loud, pontificate, return to an agenda item we covered already, or return to an earlier debate to discuss it again.
I'm not saying these meetings are bad- the discussion is usually valuable. I'm just not use to the drawn-out discussion or debates that circle back onto themselves.
I'm not comparing my church meetings to whole-school staff meetings or any sort of staff development where we are sitting for extended periods of time while people talk to us. I'm comparing them to our team meetings- our short before-school meetings where we have packed agenda and yet somehow manage to fly through all the items in 20 minutes. It's not that there's no discussion about the agenda, or that meaningful decisions don't get made, but somehow we speed through.
I wondered what made us so efficient at holding meetings, and was patting us on the back for just being awesome Think-Tank teachers when it occurred to me that it might not just be that we're awesome.
Our speediness may have something to do with the fact that we know if we don't finish the meeting with 5 minutes to spare we will not have time to get our lessons ready, grab the library book we need, confirm with a co-teacher whose leading the lesson that day, or go to the bathroom.
So perhaps all meetings, in all fields, should be held with the threat that if the meeting goes one minute over the expected time the members of the meeting will not be allowed to go to the bathroom for the next 8 hours.
I have a feeling the whole world would become a more efficient place...