When we first began exploring and implementing collaborative team meetings and then sharing with others, we did not understand the value of a pre-meeting organizer. The core idea of the pre-meeting organizer is that we come ready for the conversation. When we started the facilitator would say “Lorna, who's a student you'd like to talk about?” and she says, “Oh, just a second, let me look at my class list.” This resulted in a reactive response that wasn't necessarily reflective or data-informed. It is also likely that the student who just had a situation on the playground earlier in the day will be the one that is identified rather than a student that has been flying under the radar for some time. Identifying students in this reactive and ‘in the moment’ state has the potential of completely missing a group of students who we should be identifying and discussing for additional support.
The pre-meeting organizer helps reinforce that when we ask the question of who would you like to talk about, the person knows who as they have already put thought into their students, looked at their data and have identified a key issue aligned with the area of focus that the team is targeting. In time the pre-meeting organizer can become data informed. This assists us in creating a succinct, key issue that is arising from data and surfaces students who we need to be talking about.
So the word here is succinct, and that's an important word. Pre-meeting organizers assist in identifying the name of a student and their key issue, as well as their strengths and interests that will potentially help to guide the supports that we design for them. It is not intended to be a complete record of everything we know about that student.
We suggest that teams use printed copies of the pre-meeting organizer rather than filling them in online as this limits the space thus limiting the information provided and leads teachers to a brief summary of the student, their strengths and interests and their key issues at this time. This becomes a tool for the teacher to use to begin the conversation in the collaborative team meeting and is not necessarily collected or handed in. In the WeCollab software, the student alert function satisfies the intention of the pre-meeting organizer, noting the students we are bringing forth for the conversation and the key issue to discuss.
In the template below, the inclusion of the strengths and interests does not mean that we're going to take time to examine those in the collaborative team meeting, but rather provides the teachers with the opportunity to have thought about those strengths and interests so that they can influence some of the responses that we design.
You'll note that we identify students of concern and a key issue that a student is facing at this point in time. But we also encourage a component of the pre-meeting organizer to be focused on students that we can challenge or enrich. We dedicate so much time to addressing issues that we don't create that space where we can actually talk about children who we need to continue to grow and allow them to go beyond where they currently are. This creates a space for enrichment conversations as well as issues and concerns.
Ensuring the pre-meeting organizer is ready for the conversation is absolutely critical for the focus and creates a high degree of productivity that we want to see in a collaborative team meeting.
Access additional samples of pre-meeting organizers from various schools.
Interested in learning more? Access this blog posting to learn more about pre-meeting organizers.
Access this video to listen to Kurtis and Lorna share the importance of pre-meeting organizers.