Reflecting on School Reviews

In November, I had the absolute privilege (albeit, exhausting!) to travel up to Fort Vermilion School Division with Kurtis and Lorna Hewson to spend a week providing the School Division with 15 detailed, insightful Collaborative Response Model (CRM) school reviews.

Our role was to visit all schools in the Division (often more than once), interview staff and admin teams, observe collaborative team meetings in action, and provide just-in-time supports as needed. Building on our observations and conversations, we built detailed reports and scheduled debriefs in order to communicate the next steps that teams could consider, to help further grow their understanding of the CRM process leading to success for all learners.

What impressed me the most was that the entire division, from all staff in schools to the superintendent, are committed to using the Collaborative Response Model framework to improve learning and teaching for all. Just like students, every school is on a journey and also requires a continuum of supports. It takes courage to look deeper into our schools and see what is and isn’t working for both students and staff.

While engaging in the reviews it became evident that in schools where leadership were seeing the highest level of success, three key ideas strongly resonated:

  1. The Power of Clarity – A number of schools had clearly laid out their CRM processes in school handbooks, staff documents, posters or other mediums to provide clarity to their teams regarding the purpose of the collaborative structures in their building and clear agendas for how their meetings would run. Being clear, focused and consistent led to confidence and trust both in the process as well as with all participants.
  2. Honouring Process and Time – The one thing we never seem to have enough as school leaders, teachers, and staff is time. Although fidelity to CRM is a must, in schools that were seeing high success rates with collaborative structures were able to respect that the base foundation, team structures, conversations, and true collaboration, is a process that requires time and commitment. To these leaders, courage in the “journey and not the final destination” was key.
  3. The Power of Vulnerability – In schools where leadership teams demonstrated that they were willing to say that they did not have all the answers, but believed that collectively they could make a difference for not only their students, but for their whole staff and community, success of the model was very high. Success was high – not perfect. These leaders were diligent about seeking answers, asking for next steps, and were willing to dig through the messiness of the process to find nuggets of success.

The commitment to learning and growth in Fort Vermilion School Division, in relation to Collaborative Response Model, is to be commended. It is an honour to be part of this process!

For more info, contact me at arlene.littlemore(at)

Author: Arlene Littlemore