A key consideration for collaborative team meetings is involving a number of people who come to that team with varying perspectives. Accessing as many different voices around the table allows for diversity of thought and breadth of ideas.
Teachers play a critical role in collaborative team meetings and ideally having 3 to 5 teachers involved provides a range of experience and expertise to access when we're determining strategies and generating ideas. With only two teachers on a team, sometimes the diversity of thought is limited and the breadth and depth of ideas generated has a cap. Once we get beyond five, we sometimes see disengagement or lack of voice as it is difficult to engage every team member in the discussion.
Administrators are an integral part of the conversation in collaborative team meetings. As a principal, Kurtis learned more about his school in these meetings than if he would have spent much more time in classroom observations and walkthroughs. Not saying those weren't important, but being involved in the collaborative team meeting gave an incredible sense of what was going on in relation to students and instructional practices. It also helps to inform next steps for professional learning. Being present as an administrator provides the opportunity to question, connect what is happening across classrooms and encourage the sharing of effective practices. The administrator is a key role within our collaborative team meetings.
Our educational assistants or paraprofessionals contribute a unique perspective when it comes to collaborative team meetings. They have been in so many different classrooms and they have seen so many different strategies and ideas that are functional in a number of different classrooms. Educational assistants also have an understanding of the parent perspective as well, and their individual supports that they provide on an ongoing basis to students. Sometimes it's challenging to have educational assistants involved depending on their assignments, but having them there creates a beautiful breadth of experience that surfaces unique ideas.
Another group of professionals that are advantageous to include are lead teachers, specialists, counselors and any other school role that could support the sharing of strategies for students. Depending on the individual context of each school, these roles provide further diversity of thought and greater expertise in particular areas to offer different strategies. Bringing their voices into this conversation is powerful to increase the number of different practices we could be considering in regards to the students that are identified.
The following example shows a high school where due to the size of their staff, they had anywhere from three to six teachers in a collaborative team. They assigned an administrator, a student services team member and an educational assistant to be a part of each team. In addition, Memorial Composite High School intentionally included teachers from different subject disciplines to build upon the diversity of thought and variations on instructional practices. For a collaborative team meeting, it doesn’t necessarily have to be those that are teaching either the same cohort of students or the same courses or subject disciplines because we are focusing on key issues that go beyond the boundaries of subjects or grades.
Included below is a Collaborative Team Meeting Overview template to assist in designing your teams and ensuring you have a diverse group of participants who will contribute varied strategies and supports for the students who are surfaced through the conversations.
Access additional samples that show how schools schedule their teams for maximum participation.Interested in learning more? Access this blog posting, that goes deeper into the topic of establishing an overarching focus for your collaborative team meetings.
Access this video to listen to Kurtis and Lorna share the possible team members when establishing participation in collaborative team meetings.