Collaborative Structures and Processes

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In this Day 1 Opening Address from the 2022 Collaborative Response Symposium, Lorna and Kurtis Hewson share ideas focused on the foundational component of Collaborative Structures and Processes, including how to reduce the number of meetings about students in your adding one more meeting and how we can respond to the needs of taking attention off the student!

When establishing Collaborative Structures and Processes in schools, it's important to develop a layered approach to responding to the needs of students, as well as ensuring collaborative time for teams. With effective communication strategies in place, each team builds on the work of each layer. In schools, the following four general structures should be considered when creating a highly-functioning Collaborative Response. Click on each section to access resources and samples.

Reflection Tools

Reflecting on Collaborative Structures and Processes (School-Based) - Template - Template to reflect on considerations related to the layering of Collaborative Structures and Processes to ensure appropriate and timely support for all students, while building collective capacity for team members

Layered Meetings

A highly impactful and robust Collaborative Response relies upon layers of collaboration, each with a different purpose and participation/timing in relation to that purpose. It is important for schools to think critically about how they are designing and refining their highly interconnected collaborative structures, as well communicating those structures clearly within their school community.

A number of templates and resources are available in the Collaborative Response Membership.


Collaborative Structures Overview - overview visual from Pigeon Lake, sharing how the various team meetings within the school connect and support each other.
Copyright 2023, M. Humby - Pigeon Lake Regional School, Wetaskiwin Regional School Division, AB. Shared with permission.
Queen Elizabeth School Layered Team Meetings - This overview shares Queen Elizabeth School's version of layered team meetings.
Copyright 2022, C. Kirwan - Queen Elizabeth School, Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools. Shared with permission.

Blueberry School Layered Team Meetings - This overview shares Blueberry School's version of the four layered team meetings, including examples of students to be discussed at each layer.
Copyright 2021, A. White - Blueberry School, Parkland School Division. Shared with permission.
Lakeland Catholic Collaborative Response Meeting Overview - Overview of collaborative response meetings for all schools in Lakeland Catholic School Division.
Copyright 2021, P. Guilbault - Lakeland Catholic School Division, Bonnyville, AB. Shared with permission.

Innisfail High School Layered Collaboration Overview - Visual showing the three layers of student focused meeting, each with a specific purpose focused on tiers of support.

RWZ Collaborative Structures Overview Poster - Poster showing the various types of collaboration and team meetings at Robert W. Zahara School in Sexsmith, AB.
Beaverlodge Elementary Team Meeting Overview - Overview document from Beaverlodge Elementary showing the various team meetings existing in their school, as well the purpose, frequency, attendance and duration.
Copyright 2020, P. Cincurak - Beaverlodge Elementary, AB. Shared with permissions
Elmworth Collaborative Response Structures - Posters showing the four layers of team meetings in Elmworth School.
Copyright 2020, C. Gauthier - Elmworth School, AB. Shared with permissions
View additional layered meeting samples contributed by our partners.

Embedding Time

Embedding time for layers of collaborative teams is a critical endeavour for schools to engage, often requiring innovative thinking when reflecting upon the master timetable. When it comes to timetabling collaborative structures, the time for the Case Consult and School Support Team Meetings is typically easier to accomplish than embedding time for Collaborative Planning and Collaborative Team Meetings. Embedding time for these structures in the master timetable takes considerable planning, experimentation and often a willingness to think outside of a conventional scheduling mindset.

To learn more about timetabling and to access a list of overviews, click here.

How is your school embedding time for collaboration? Please take a moment to share using this submission form (with the ability to view all submissions collected)

A number of templates and resources are available in the Collaborative Response Membership.


Our Lady of the Assumption Teacher Schedules (2022-2023) - copies of the teacher schedules for 2022-2023, showing how collaborative planning time is established for 1 hour for each time every Friday, as well as additional supports for students.
Copyright 2022, M. Calder - Our Lady of the Assumption School, Holy Spirit Catholic School Division, AB. Shared with permission.

Early Dismissal Schedule - cycle of Collaborative Planning and Collaborative Team Meetings planned annually at École Notre Dame High School.
Copyright 2022, V. Spila - École Notre Dame High School, Lakeland Catholic Schools, AB. Shared with permission.

Embedding Time for Collaboration - EPSB Schools - Overview of how a network of Edmonton Public Schools, engaged in establishing Collaborative Response, provided time for collaboration in their schools.
View additional embedding time samples contributed by our partners


Norms are a critical element whenever teams are engaged in collaborative work, as they define the expectations and commitments that the team members agree to when engaging in their collective endeavours. Every layer of collaboration should have norms established for their work, which can be common across all structures or individually defined for each team and each team process.

A number of templates and resources are available in the Collaborative Response Membership.

Sample Team NormsSample set of team norms for a grade one team (specifically establishing norms for a collaborative team meeting)
Strategies for Deepening Norms - Compiled by workshop participants in Medicine Hat Public School Division, different strategies to consider when wishing to practice, reinforce and deepen norms established for team meetings.
Ekota School Team Norms - Norms established for team meetings at Ekota School, with focus on what we see or do not see in relation to the norms in the school.

Norm Examination Sample - Rich Valley School - Template used for the staff at Rich Valley School to examine the why behind their three key team meeting norms, including what they would observe for each norm in their school.
Copyright 2019, K. Muir - Rich Valley School, AB. Shared with permission

Lochearn School Team Norms - Sample digging deep into each norm to articulate what each does and does not look like in action, as well as why it is important.
View additional team norm samples contributed by our partners

Space Design

Ensuring that an effective space is prepared for collaboration is important for schools and districts. The environment, access to materials, sitting arrangements and other considerations matter when adults are engaging in collaborative teams. View a blog posting sharing further ideas connected to this concept.

A number of templates and resources are available in the Collaborative Response Membership.


Light of Christ Collaboration Bins - The leadership team prepares bins for each of the team to use throughout the year which includes a copy of their continuum of supports, copy of their norms, tents cards with roles, pens, sticky notes and even treats for each team.
Copyright 2023, C. Semeniuk- Light of Christ, Lakeland Catholic School Division, AB.
Shared with permission.

Ecole Connaught School - Meeting Room Visuals - Visual resources accessible to staff in the space used for team meetings.
View additional space design samples contributed by our partners