Within Collaborative Response, we have discussed the critical importance of the collaborative team meeting, an embedded meeting time where staff are brought together to discuss the progress, strengths and needs of students. One of the essential elements of these meetings is the maximum involvement of staff working with the group of students being discussed…including the vital role played by para-professionals.
Whether meeting to examine students grouped according to grade levels, departments, divisions or student pods, there are multiple adult perspectives that can provide insight into the conversations and resulting actions. Para-professionals (ie. teacher assistants, educational assistants, teacher aides, support staff, etc.) can provide a valuable voice, often not accessed when discussions are left solely to groups of teachers and administrators. These are often people working very closely with students daily and even when designated to an individual student or small group of students, can offer a different view of student strengths and needs that adds another layer of understanding to the discussion. Often, these individuals cannot only provide alternate perspectives but can be a valuable resource when determining how best to respond to the needs of students as key issues are identified for discussion. It also adds another group of individuals aware and as a result committed to the success of students.
When focusing on key issues, we need to remember that it is often our educational assistants that are traveling from classroom to classroom to support students and in those various classroom engagements, see a large number of strategies being employed. That understanding becomes incredibly valuable in the collaborative team meeting.
When all adults responsible for working with students are involved in the conversation and solutions, the team surrounding the students becomes more diverse, more committed and more responsive. All adults working with children have a vital role to play when it comes to the success for all learners! Involve as many team members as possible in your collaborative team meetings!
Adapted from a previous posting – originally published March 13, 2012