Collaborative Structures and Processes

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 the team prior. In schools, the following four general structures should be considered when creating a highly-functioning Collaborative Response:

  • Collaborative Team Meetings
  • Collaborative Planning Time
  • School Support Meetings
  • External Support Meetings

The following resources and samples have been organized related to general structures and processes that could apply across multiple layers, followed by resources and samples particular to a specific structure.

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.

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.

MHPSD Collaborative Response Meeting Overview - Overview of collaborative response meetings for all schools in Medicine Hat Public School Division.

RWZ Collaborative Structures Overview Poster - Poster showing the various types of collaboration and team meetings at Robert W. Zahara School in Sexsmith, AB.
View additional layered meeting samples contributed by our partners.


It is critically important to ensure that all team structures and meetings are intentionally scheduled in the school timetable and annual calendar. Ideally, a school should be striving for:

  • Weekly collaborative planning time for teams, with a Collaborative Team Meeting happening every 3-6 weeks
  • Weekly or Bi-Weekly School Support Meetings
  • External Support Meetings as needed

Resources and Templates

Collaborative Team Meeting Overview - Template - Overview of scheduled meetings for a school year, including meeting time, dates and focus, and anticipated participation

Collaborative Team Meeting CycleAn overview of the Collaborative Team Meeting Cycle, illustrating the work of teams on the weeks when not meeting in regularly scheduled Collaborative Team Meetings.


Elmworth School - Collaboration/CTM Meeting Dates (2018-2019) - Sample calendar of rotating collaborative team meetings and collaboration times for teams within the school, as well as scheduled individual inclusive education meetings

Savannah School - CTM Schedule (2018-2019) - Overview of dates for Division 1-2 and Division 3-4 teams at Savannah School, with a focus determined for each collaborative team meeting
View additional scheduling 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.

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, including links to a video describing the process.

Team Norms Template - Template for establishing team norms for collaborative team meetings (or other purposes in your professional learning community).

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.
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

Agendas and Notes

Establishing a consistent agenda for each team meeting structure helps to ensure clarity and focus for teams, with a connected format for recording notes for the team. Alternatively, schools and districts could consider adopting a digital system for capturing student notes, team actions and other important documentation.

Resources and Templates

Collaborative Team Meeting Agenda and Notes - template to establish a strategic agenda, as well as notes, for an effective collaborative team meeting.

Collaborative Team Meeting Agenda Poster - agenda format for the Mamaw-Ohpikihawaso’miskawasowihtowina, the grade level collaborative team meeting at Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik School
View additional agenda and note samples contributed by our partners


Team meetings become more focused, intentional and contribute to a greater sense of collective efficacy when facilitated effectively. The following resources, templates and samples can be used to help support, over time, deep and focused conversations during team meetings.

Resources and Templates

Team Meeting Role CardsCards to assign roles during a Team Meeting, to ensure efficiency and focus during meeting conversations. View a blog posting discussing the value of role in team meetings.

Team Meeting Discussion and Question Cards - Questions and discussion starters to use in a Collaborative Team Meeting to prompt challenging collective dialogue. View a blog posting sharing the role of questions and discussion cards in team meetings.
Potential Roles for Meetings - Listing of potential roles to consider for team meetings, with brief description and other notes/considerations. View a blog posting discussing the value of role in team meetings.

Meeting Role Table Displays - Vertical - Template for creating meeting role table displays, with role name and image on front and tasks/tools required on the back. Created for 5x7 table displays. View a blog posting discussing the value of role in team meetings.
Meeting Role Table Displays - Horizontal - Template for creating meeting role table displays, with role name and image on front and tasks/tools required on the back. Created for 5x7 table displays. View a blog posting discussing the value of role in team meetings.
Questions to Guide Meetings - Questions used at Wembley Elementary to help facilitators guide Collaborative Team Meetings
Prompting Guide for Leaders - Co-created by a cohort of leaders in Edmonton Public Schools, this guide suggests questions and considerations for educators when leading collaborative team meetings

Pat Hardy Role Cards - Role cards used in collaborative team meetings at Pat Hardy Primary School, to establish roles to play during the meeting

Dr. Roy Wilson Role Tent Cards - Tent cards used by teams at Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre to establish team meeting roles, with responsibilities of the role determined on the back of the card
View additional facilitation samples contributed by our partners


It is important that team members come to team meetings prepared for the conversation and ready to engage in a "so what can we do?" discussion. Consider the following resources and samples to ensure team members come prepared and ready for the specific meeting.

Resources and Templates

Pre-Meeting Organizer - template for teachers to complete prior to a collaborative team meeting, to come prepared with celebrations, students with key issues and additional students to discuss
Student Discussion Checklisttemplate to use for team members to complete prior to collaborative team meetings, to prepare for the conversation.

Ecole Connaught School - Pre-Meeting Organizer - pre-meeting organizer completed by individuals to determine a student for celebration (including why they think that success has occurred), a student to discuss with a key issue, a student to challenge with a key issue and more.

Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik - Pre-Meeting Organizer - pre-meeting organizer completed by teachers, identifying celebrations, students of concern, and students to enrich, ensuring a key issue is identified, but also a strength or gift that student has that could be leveraged when responding.
View additional pre-meeting 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

Collaborative Team Meetings

Collaborative Team Meetings should occur every 3-6 weeks and ensure an opportunity for team members to celebrate successes for students, identify students with key issues, determine effective classroom responses and build upon the collective capacity of the team.

Essential Elements Rubric – CTM (with Notes)Self-assessment rubric to determine current realities and next steps for collaborative team meeting structures in schools

Reflecting on Collaborative Team Meetings - Template - Template to reflect on current collaborative team meeting structures and processes

Collaborative Team Meeting Planning Template - Resource to be used for planning collaborative team meeting, with tips and resources for meeting facilitators to plan specifically when setting up collaborative team meetings

Collaborative Team Meeting Videos

Collaborative Team Meeting Observation - Reflection Template - Organizer used when observing a collaborative team meeting, reflecting on key elements of the meeting and establishing next steps - could be used when viewing a team meeting video below

Sample Grade 2 Collaborative Team Meeting - Collaborative team meeting, facilitated by Lead Learner Kurtis Hewson, focusing on literacy needs of students and a collective classroom-based response.

Sample Grade 7-8 Collaborative Team Meeting - Collaborative team meeting, facilitated by Lead Learner Kurtis Hewson, examining and responding to the needs of students specifically in connection to an analysis of numeracy data.
Sample Division 1 Collaborative Team Meeting - collaborative team meeting, facilitated by Lead Learner Kurtis Hewson, demonstrating key elements of effective collaborative team meetings.

Sample Division 1 Collaborative Team Meeting - collaborative team meeting for Division 1 team, focused on literacy and social-emotional supports
Sample Division 1 Collaborative Team Meeting - collaborative team meeting for Division 1 team, focused on literacy.
View additional collaborative team meeting samples in a YouTube Meeting Sample Playlist

Team Boards

Displaying students on a visual team board for collaborative team meetings can ensure that we can access 1) the entry level of the student coming into the grade level, based on assessment criteria and shown by the colour of the student card, and 2) the current, highest level of supports being accessed for the student. The visual board provides an overview of students we could be discussing and draws attention to successes and students of concern, as the level of support changes as we plan supports for students.

Many organizations use the WeCollab system or the Collaborative Response Module in Dossier to provide a visual overview of students for collaborative team meetings, plus much, much more.

Resources and Templates

Student Card TemplateSample student card template for Team Boards, with the ability to show progress from Kindergarten to grade six

View additional team board samples contributed by our partners

Key Issues

Resources and Templates

Key Literacy Issues - Template - Template for a school to articulate and organize literacy key issues, determined by staff, to assist in targeting conversations in collaborative team meetings.

Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik - Key Literacy Issues Collection - Key issue collection developed by Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik School focused on literacy, in relation to the five threads of reading and writing.

Peace River High School - Key Behavioural Issues Checklist - Checklist for behavioural issues being experienced for high school students, to help inform discussions related to appropriate responses and supports.
View additional key issues samples contributed by our partners