A new school year can bring hope, energy and excitement, as we look to build upon successes and improvements and continue to march toward our goal of success for every learner. Now is the perfect time to be establishing a Collaborative Team Meeting (CTM).
Whether examining students in grade level teams, divisional team, subject groups or around pods of students, Collaborative Team Meetings can become a vehicle for powerful collaboration and problem-solving related to supporting students (read a past blog posting related to the elements of a Collaborative Team Meeting). Here are some things to consider:
- Behaviour before beliefs – Michael Fullan reminds us that trying to change an individual’s belief is a daunting task and one that is often counter-productive to the change process. We must engage staff teams in behavioural changes (how we do business) often before we can receive the buy-in. When we first initiated Collaborative Team Meetings, not every staff member saw the full value of the process and sometimes the conversations were not as effective as they later became. The point here is that we all need to start somewhere and belief in taking a collaborative approach to address the needs of students will come, as we continue to work together tackling how best to support students. Change theory tells us that we just need to start – beliefs and buy-in will evolve as we continue to place focus on the needs of students.
- It’s not a popularity contest – Douglas Reeves (2009) reminds us, “If your goal is popularity, then you are finished, and professional collaboration will meet the same fate as every other change that failed because the true standard was popularity, rather than effectiveness. If, however, you are committed to effective change, then persistence through the initial challenges to achieve the essential short-term wins will be necessary, even when that persistence is unpopular.” (p. 48). As leaders, we need to continue to find the best ways to meet the needs of students and this may mark a departure from some traditional practices in schools. Staff will come to see the Collaborative Team Meeting as a supportive structure that can bring along a feeling of “we’re all in this together”. However, it will take time to generate that level of buy-in.
- Consider piloting – We have written before on the value of piloting change. Consider starting CTM’s with a particular grade level, leveraging those staff members most supportive of the process and let them become the champions that generate other staff interest across the school.
- Include CTMs in your annual calendar – We have found it most effective when you can plan CTM’s right into the annual staff planning calendar. By determining the dates through the year for CTM’s, it becomes easier to plan for (and to not abandon when things get busy). Anything important is worth committing to at the outset. For more information about this, see the post on Annual Planning for a Collaborative Response Model.
A Collaborative Team Meeting can serve as the catalyst to school-wide structural changes to how we address the needs of students, shifting the focus from “my students” to “our students“. For us, it the natural first step to establishing a powerful Collaborative Response Model in your school! If interested in accessing a short video, showing a Collaborative Team Meeting, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best wishes as you move forward in your plans to meet the needs of all your learners in your school!
Reeves, D. B. (2009). Leading change in your school: How to conquer myths, build commitment, and get results. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Adapted from a previous posting – originally published June 26, 2012