In a blog, Scaffolding our Collaborative Response: Purposeful Layering of Team Meetings, we shared the idea of purposefully articulating and layering collaborative team structures to ensure the needs of all students are met. Drilling a bit deeper into the processes of each team will provide a reflection of what is consistent within each layer and what differs for each team. This blog will focus on the specific considerations for a School Support Team Meeting.
School Support Team Meetings
The School Support Team is a structure that has existed in schools for many years. This familiar leadership team focuses on the design and implementation of support for individual or small groups of students provided by someone other than the classroom teacher. The membership of this team typically includes the administrator(s), counselor(s), and learning support lead. While some schools convene this team as needed, we would encourage the establishment of a weekly or bi-weekly meeting time to ensure proactive support is consistently reviewed and updated for students who require this level of intervention.
The School Support team is the link between classroom support for students and more intensive small group or individual support outside of the classroom. A clear definition of who, how and when this team is convened should be documented and readily available to all school team members. Here’s an example of how Blueberry School in the Parkland School division describes their layers of teams, including examples of students to be discussed at each layer. Other samples of layered team meeting overviews can be accessed here.
In many schools, this team is merely a layer of leadership that ensures all students and classrooms have access to more intensive support that is available throughout the school beyond the classroom. It is initiated by questions such as
- “How do I access counseling for my student?”,
- “How do I support a student in my classroom who is three grade levels below in their reading?”,
- “How do I manage the explosive student in my class?”, or
- “How do I access external services for speech and language intervention?”
If the structure and process of this team is not clearly defined and articulated for the school, we hear teachers requesting external services such as psychology support for students in their classroom prior to accessing the supports developed in a collaborative team meeting or the school wide supports determined by the school support team.
When the school support team is functioning well and clearly understood by all staff, then the processes within collaborative team meetings and collaborative planning will maintain an enhanced focus on classroom practice as opposed to the in-depth problem solving around individual students. One of the primary functions of the school support team is to collaboratively problem solve for individual and small groups of students.
Roles for the school support team are established such as facilitator, recorder and perhaps a time manager. The facilitator is responsible for guiding and directing the flow of the meeting while the recorder ensures there is one clear set of notes that will be distributed to the team as follow-up. These two roles should not be the same person as it is sometimes difficult to direct conversations and take notes at the same time.
A predetermined and perhaps ongoing agenda that guides the discussion for the meetings is important to establish. An agenda not only guides the flow of the meeting but can also become the template for keeping the notes for the meeting. As the recorder is keeping the notes, they are projected to provide a focal point for all team members and ensure all team members have an opportunity to adjust notes if something is misinterpreted or missed.
The agenda for the School Support team follows a clear sequence that directs the meeting and typically includes:
- Norms Review
- Review of Notes and Actions from last meeting
- Student Celebrations
- Students from Referrals
- Additional Students of Concern
- Review and Closure
Here is a sample agenda that could be used for the purpose of School Support team meetings.
At the end of the meeting, the recorder reviews all actions and outcomes of the meeting and prints copies of the notes for everyone to take away. The team will review all actions at the next meeting to ensure the decisions made are implemented. The next meeting date is confirmed before the team disperses.
We have developed a template to guide your reflections on your School Support team to maximize the effectiveness of your team meetings.