When we think about the importance of determining roles in our collaborative team meetings, we will once again reinforce the idea that roles can be impactful in all types of meetings, not only in collaborative team meetings. They can help support the other layers of teams as well as any other type of meeting we have within our schools.
We did not understand the value of establishing roles and then sharing them amongst the team. When we began this work, Kurtis thought he was helping to support everyone by coming into the collaborative team meeting and recording notes, watching the time and facilitating the conversation with the intention of letting everyone else focus on the conversation. This was short sighted. He wasn't building capacity with anyone else, and because he was involved in trying to track the time and take notes, he wasn't actually doing a very good job of facilitating because the active listening that is necessary to facilitate was not even possible.
We often suggest that teams share the roles, take turns in practicing each one and in time you should be able to get to a place where anyone can come into the meeting and we can say, “Who'd like to facilitate today?” “Who's going to be our recorder?” “Who's going to be our timekeeper?” Those three roles are absolutely essential when first starting the collaborative team meeting.
We encourage schools to think about formalizing those roles, so that everyone has a clear understanding about what is expected for each. So as a facilitator, note keeper and timekeeper we understand what the expectations are in leading each of those standard roles. Some schools even pre-determine the roles, so everyone is aware coming into the meeting who is assuming each role for that conversation.
There are a number of additional roles that schools have identified and have found useful in their collaborative team meetings. An example of one is Captain Continuum who is responsible for looking at their continuum of supports and suggesting ideas from the continuum. Another role that surfaced in a school that was doing this work is the interrupter. The idea behind this role is that we, as teachers, are great at telling stories. When we talk about students, we have traditionally been expected to share everything that we know about what's happening for that child when in fact we just need some key understandings in order to be able to move forward. So this school designed the role of the interrupter, and their responsibility was to interrupt and say “Yes, but what are we going to do?”. This assists in bringing the team back on track and to continue the focus of the meeting. A number of different roles can be established, over time, to assist in the flow and shared ownership for the success of the collaborative team meeting.
Schools communicate the roles within their meetings through the use of tent cards (as seen below from Roy Wilson), table displays or individual cards to ensure the team identifies with that role and understands what to do.
Establishing roles distributes the leadership and helps reinforce the idea that we all play a role in the effectiveness and focus of this particular conversation. We firmly believe that roles matter when we come together to collaborate.
Access additional samples that show how various schools articulate and display their team roles.Interested in learning more? Access this blog posting, that explores in more depth the primary functions of roles in team meetings.
Access this video to listen to Kurtis and Lorna share the importance of meeting roles.