This posting is part of a series, aimed at sharing high-impact ideas and practices for consideration in relation to Collaborative Team Meetings.
Whenever a new group of educators have an opportunity to view a Collaborative Team Meeting in action, the first thing that almost always is mentioned is how structured the conversation is. The design of the Collaborative Team Meeting is highly intentional and focuses on maximizing the time a team is together to have the greatest overall impact on classroom practice to support as many students as possible. Key to this structure is the development of a concise agenda.
When developing the agenda for a Collaborative Team Meeting, the following elements need to be considered in the design. It is important to note that the agenda can be adjusted over time but it is important that the format for the Collaborative Team Meeting becomes consistent and predictable, so that the repeated use of the process can lead to deeper and deeper conversations about pedagogy. This is hard to do if the agenda is different from meeting to meeting and the format becomes unpredictable to those participating.
Review and reinforcement of Norms
In a previous blog, I’ve discussed the importance of establishing, posting and then reinforcing the norms as a consistent part of every Collaborative Team Meeting. Taking five minutes to restate the norms and pick one that we will practice/reflect on as part of the meeting sets the tone for the meeting and reinforces the common commitments we’ve made in relation to our actions and behaviour expectations when together. Taking 3-5 minutes for this review and refinement should be part of every Collaborative Team Meeting agenda.
Every meeting needs time, following the review of norms, to engage in a discussion about student celebrations. During this time, we want to focus on the celebrations and what we have done that have led to that success. It is important to set a time limit to this section of the agenda but taking time for celebrations is absolutely critical for the Collaborative Team Meeting and over time, builds high degrees of collective efficacy amongst the team. Celebrations become a mechanism for the sharing of strategies and practices that are having an impact for students. They also ensure the Collaborative Team Meeting starts on a positive note, reinforcing the impact our individual and collective actions are having for students.
We have engaged with some schools that use the celebrations as a way to link back to the actions from a prior Collaborative Team Meeting. In this situation, the celebrations being brought forward are expected to align from a previous meeting action, such as “I want to celebrate Draven’s recent engagement in our study of globalism. Helping to link the topic to a real-life case study to start the unit really helped to hook him. Thanks to Marcia for suggesting that strategy at our last team meeting!”. This helps link the conversations but again promotes that the sharing of classroom strategies, which is integral to the Collaborative Team Meeting, is bringing about success for students.
Focus on Students Through Key Issues
The majority of the agenda should focus on identifying students brought to the conversation through a pre-meeting organizer, the identification of a key issue, attachment of other students, brainstorming of primarily Tier 2 (classroom-based) responses and then determining individual actions to be taken for each of the students identified. Each of these conversations ideally take 8-12 minutes, but can become more efficient over time, as staff gain experience engaging in the process and supplementary materials (such as Key Issues and Possible Supports organizers and Continuums of Support) are developed. The latest update of the WeCollab software also features the ability to enter a key issue and then review the associated supports automatically suggested as possible responses, drawing from a rich support bank of strategies, accommodations and interventions within the system.
This poster further shares the intended key issue process.
Having a small portion of the agenda, near the end, for identifying students who should be brought forward to the School Support Team Meeting can ensure that there is space for identifying students requiring more intensive support but become the focus of a more intensive layer of our collaborative teams. It serves as a rudimentary referral system for students to be added to the agenda for the School Support Team Meeting and ensures that none of our higher need students are falling through the cracks. This is how the layers of Collaborative Structures and Processes operate in unison, reinforcing the understanding that different conversations reside in different collaborative structures within our school. The key is not to take extensive time at the Collaborative Team Meeting to discuss a single student in depth, as we may not have all of the necessary voices at the table, or those currently at the table may not need to be involved in those specific student conversations.
The final component of the agenda is to formally end the meeting. This may involve any of the following:
- Review of actions from the meeting, ensuring everyone is clear regarding their individual actions from the conversations
- Determining team tasks - are there any tasks from the meeting that could become work we take into our Collaborative Planning time, to help share the load for individual staff members?
- Review/reflection on our norms, if this was something determined in the initial review of the norms
- Opportunity for feedback/debrief related to the Collaborative Team Meeting process (consider the infusion of a Participant Exit Slip to help gather some feedback and data over time in relation to this critical structure)
Here is a sample Collaborative Team Meeting Agenda poster from Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik School in Wabasca, Alberta, sharing the breakdown of times for their Collaborative Team Meetings.
Additional samples have been collected for sharing, as well as an agenda and notes template that helps to include the agenda (with times for each section), with space for notes from the meeting.
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