Examining Collaborative Team Meetings - Roles in Team Meetings

This posting is part of a series, aimed at sharing high-impact ideas and practices for consideration in relation to Collaborative Team Meetings.

Over the past number of years, I have observed a lot of Collaborative Team Meetings. One structure that we have seen repeatedly have a positive impact on the efficiency and overall flow of the meeting has been the introduction, utilization and reinforcement of individual roles.

In any team meeting, a role describes the responsibilities and actions a particular team member will take on for the discussion. The use of roles serves 3 primary functions:

  1. It creates an environment of shared responsibility, as each team member takes on a leadership or supporting role to ensure the conversation is focused and productive, rather than having that expectation rest on a single leader for the meeting.
  2. It ensures team attendance to structures and processes established to enhance the productivity and effectiveness of the team meeting.
  3. It ensures engagement for multiple members of the team, as they attend to their specific role.

Let’s take some time to examine the various roles that could be considered, as well as ways to communicate or assign those roles for specifically the Collaborative Team Meeting (although roles can and should be adopted for any other type of meeting as well).

In our text Collaborative Response: Three Foundational Components That Transform How We Respond to the Needs of Learners, we describe a number of basic roles necessary to ensure the meetings are focused, productive and engaging. This was also shared in a previous blog posting. These included:

  • Facilitator – essentially keeps the focus for the meeting and ensures efficient, purposeful direction. Effective facilitation in a meeting is key and is often held by an administrator or team leader, particularly when first establishing collaborative team meetings in a school
  • Timekeeper– ensures attentiveness is paid to time, increasing the efficiency of the meeting and the goal of determining supports for the maximum number of people possible
  • Recorder – records notes during the meeting, noting actions, who is responsible and completion dates. Having these notes visible during the meeting (through projection) is a valuable consideration.
  • Interrupter – shared by a previous school we worked with, the interrupter is charged with the task of interjecting with “yeah, but what are we going to do?” when conversations become overly extended or dive off on a tangent. This vital role can keep the team’s collective focus on action.

We have seen a number of other roles surface for teams in different districts and schools. Click here to access a collection of potential roles for meetings, as well as basic descriptions for each of those roles. This list is by no means definitive, as the further examples show countless other roles coming into existence in team meetings.

However, establishing the roles is only the beginning. Making them a living, viable and consistently communicated structure in your team meetings is critical and ensure that the roles have impact on the discussion.

Table Displays and Tent Cards

A number of schools and districts have introduced table displays or tent cards as a way of visualizing the roles for the team meetings, as well as provide information for those assuming those roles regarding their specific set of responsibilities.

An SLP team in Edmonton Catholic School Division developed roles using table displays to use in team meetings, with the front sharing the role and the back sharing the specific responsibilities of that role.

We have developed templates for 5x7 table displays for team meeting roles, both in vertical and horizontal configurations. We also have an enhanced table display template, that includes a number of notes and ideas.

At Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre in Medicine Hat, tent cards are used for the meetings (retrieve the PDF versions of the cards).

Role Cards

Role cards are another effective way to determine and communicate roles in team meetings. At Pat Hardy Primary School, role cards with inventive names help to communicate who is responsible for what in a team meeting.

We also have a template developed for creating team meeting role cards and distributing during team meetings.

Have Fun With the Roles

The roles in the team meeting can also be used to bring a little levity or fun to the team meeting, as team members attend to their roles. At Crescent Heights High School in Medicine Hat, the role of "Norm" was introduced with a Staples Easy button. That day, it was the role of "Norm" to press the button whenever the team got off track and took the "easy way", blaming outside factors rather than focusing on what they could be doing or adjusting in their classroom practice, which was one of the norms they had established for their meeting.

Interested in seeing some further samples? Check out this folder of samples from numerous organizations

What roles could you introduce to ensure your team meetings are as effective and impactful as possible? Have a sample or story to share related to the use of roles in team meetings? Please contact us at questions(at)jigsawlearning.ca.

Author: Kurtis Hewson