In schools, collaboration is not always a natural process for educators. Embedding time for collaborative efforts is an important first step, but without a clear plan for how that time will be used, working together with colleagues may produce confusion, disparity between different teams, as well as potentially frustration. As we share in our text Envisioning a Collaborative Response Model,
Collaboration among teachers must be purposeful and structured, because simply creating the space for “contrived collegiality” (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996) may function to alter the structure of the school but have little impact on the deeper culture of that school (Hewson, Hewson, & Parsons, 2015, p. 40).
When engaging in Collaborative Team Meetings, an essential component of a Collaborative Response Model, it is critically important to have a formalized process for the team. Consider the following when creating a meeting process or agenda for examining the needs of students:
Take time for celebrations – begin the meeting with celebrations of specific students that have made significant gains since the last time the team met. Consider the process established at Maskwacis Outreach School in central Alberta. The staff at the outreach school start their collaborative team meetings with student celebrations and end their meetings with staff celebrations, taking time to recognize the specific efforts of colleagues that are making a difference for students. Starting with celebrations sets a positive tone for the meeting, as well as reinforces that the efforts of the team are making a difference for students.
Include the team norms – including reference to the established team norms can help to focus the team and ensure the team members remain mindful of the norms that will have a positive impact on conversations. A team meeting agenda from Lacombe Composite High School demonstrates the value of including the team norms right in the printed agenda.
Assign roles – determining roles for the meeting prior to coming together can definitely help to coordinate shared responsibility and promote distributed leadership for the team. At JA Williams High School in Lac La Biche in northern Alberta, meeting agendas clearly delineate the roles to be assigned during the meeting.
Outline the process – providing a clear process for discussion and then determining actions for students is critical to the success of the collaborative team meeting. Without a clear process, conversations can veer off into tangents, rather than maintaining a laser-like focus on responding to the critical question “so what are we going to do?”. Peace Wapiti Academy in Grande Prairie, Alberta includes their process directly in their meeting agenda to help guide the meeting. Having a clear process ensures direction for the team, with time maximized to establish supports for students.
Do you have a collaborative team meeting agenda to share? Please send any samples to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love seeing the work happening in schools in relation to the Collaborative Response Model and include all samples, as well as editable templates and resources, in our CRM Network.
Fullan, M., & Hargreaves, A. (1996). What’s worth fighting for out there? New York: Teachers College Press.
Hewson, K., Hewson, L., & Parsons, J. (2015). Envisioning a collaborative response model: Beliefs, structures, and processes to transform how we respond to the needs of students. Edmonton, AB: Jigsaw Learning Inc.