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 any of the meeting types, or use the menu to the right, to access a number of resources and samples, organized related to structures and processes specific to each layer of team meetings in a school. View below to see resources related specifically to layering team meetings, norms and designing spaces for collaboration.

Reflection and Data 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.

Resources and Templates

Team Meeting Overview Template - Template for planning to determine the types of collaborative structures happening in the school, determining the purpose of each, who is involved, duration and frequency. Assists in the layering of team meetings to support the needs of students in connection to all levels of support.

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.

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)

Resources and Templates

Embedding Time for Collaboration Organizer - Template used to collectively examine current ways time is provided for collaboration in a school, as well as listing potential ideas for creating collaborative time for teams.

Ideas for Embedding Time - Collection of school submissions (using a submission form) sharing ways schools are embedding time for collaboration, including school configuration, population and optional contact information.

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

Timetable Overviews

Timetabling for staff collaboration, team meetings and student interventions is a necessary step for schools looking to sustain Collaborative Response efforts. There are countless examples of schools of all shapes and sizes redesigning their timetable to embed collaboration and intervention. As part of the Collaborative Response Membership, a growing collection of Timetable Overviews, including video interview footage with leaders and timetable examples, are available. Check out the list below as new overviews are added regularly.

Have a timetable story to share? Contact us to set up an interview!

Morinville Community High School - Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools (Alberta, Canada)
  • Grades 9-12 (528 students)
  • Developed in the 2021-2022 school year
Peace River High School - Peace River School Division (Alberta, Canada)
  • Grades 9-12 (543 students)
  • Developed in the 2021-2022 school year

Isabelle Sellon School - Livingstone Range School Division (Alberta, Canada)
  • Grades 4-6 (137 students)
  • Developed in the 2021-2022 school year

Griffiths-Scott School - Wetaskwin Public Schools (Alberta, Canada)
  • Grades K-8 (275 students)
  • Developed in the 2021-2022 school year

Innisfail High School - Chinook's Edge School Division (Alberta, Canada)
  • Grades 9-12 (340 students)
  • Developed in the 2021-2022 school year

Alexandria Middle School - Medicine Hat Public School District
  • Grades 7-9 (480 students)
  • Developed in the 2021-2022 school year


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.

Resources and Templates

Process for Establishing Team Norms - Overview of a four step process for collectively developing team norms as a school or large group.

Team Norms Template - Template for establishing team norms for collaborative team meetings (or other purposes in your professional learning community).
Team Norms Table Display Template - Template for displaying team norms in a 5x7 table display stand.

Unpacking Team Norms - Template - Template used to articulate the why, expected observables and agreed upon responses when a norm is not upheld. Assists in the further examination, refinement and strengthening of norms to impact collaborative practices.
Actualizing Norms Questions Cards - Intended to promote inquiry during collaborative conversations, these cards can be cut up and distributed during conversation. Repeated use can help reinforce ongoing inquiry among colleagues, if that is a norm for your team. Adjust the questions as they fit your context.

Reinforcing Norms Compilation - A video compilation of clips, sharing different strategies to consider when reinforcing norms in Collaborative Team Meetings.
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.

Resources and Templates

Collaborative Meeting Space Checklist - Checklist to support reflection related to the thoughtful design of a space intended to be used for team collaboration in schools.

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
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