Examining Collaborative Team Meetings – Focus on Impact During Celebrations

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

When first introducing the Collaborative Team Meeting as a structure in our school (long before we know it would become an essential component of something to be later named the Collaborative Response Model), we knew it would be important to start the collaborative conversation about students on a positive note. Taking a few minutes to celebrate our students would not only reinforce a strengths-based approach when focusing on our students, but also provide a verbal “pat on the back” for the team when recognizing what are the successes happening for our students. It also frequently focused on our highest-need students, which really helped to reinforce we are making progress!

The first five minutes of the collaborative team meeting often sounded like this:

Kurtis – “Alright, any students to celebrate since the last time we met?”
Team Member A – “I would really like to celebrate the grade three’s. They’ve all made such progress in their reading!”
Kurtis – “That’s awesome!So great to see, as we were certainly concerned about progress being made a few months ago.Great job team!Any other celebrations?”

Although potentially uplifting, this response to celebrations lacks two considerations that can really have tremendous impact:

  1. Identify individuals or small groups of students – although it may feel uplifting to recognize the group’s progress, it does not ensure team members are looking for individual growth and improvement, which is essential for the second consideration. Responding with “That’s great! Is there any one student that has really shown significant growth or has stood out in their improvement?” leads to a teacher not only needing to reflect on individual progress, but also seeking evidence for substantial gains.
  2. Identify what specific practices led to that success – this next step is absolutely critical for connecting student success to our specific practices or actions. When a student celebration is identified, responding with “That’s great! What do you think you or we did that led to that success?” helps to articulate the specific practices we are engaging in that are potentially leading to those student gains.

This does two things. First, it helps us to potentially articulate effective supports that are making a difference for students, that could be considered when discussing subsequent students (a conversation that works to add potential ideas to everyone’s instructional toolbox). I have observed a principal ensure that post-it note pads were available on the table when in a collaborative team meeting. When a successful support or practice was identified, the team ensured someone wrote it down on a post-it, to be collected at the end and then added to the school’s pyramid of interventions.

Secondly, it helps to reinforce what we explicitly do is making an impact for students. This practice, over time, can help to reinforce and grow the collective efficacy of the team, the reinforced belief that we can make a difference for students.

In your next Collaborative Team Meeting, give it a try! Ask for the celebration to narrow to a specific student or small group of students, and then follow-up with an inquiry of what led to that success. I would love to hear how it works for you (email me comments at kurtis.hewson(at)jigsawlearning.ca).

Author: Kurtis Hewson