Hello! My name is Nicole Chavanne and I blog over at Learning Lab. I am a special education teacher that floats between grades 4-6 each year. I co-teach with a general education teacher and work with several paraprofessionals in our classroom. I am so excited that Michelle opened her blog so I can share some ideas with all of you!
How many of you have weekly meetings with your team? I know it is best practice, but it is soooo hard to stick to a consistent schedule, especially when my inclusion team involves 3 general education teachers, 4 paraprofessionals, and myself. And that is not even including the special area folks and related services providers.
When you have several adults working with the same group of students, it is vital for everybody to be on the same page. It is especially important to keep the paraprofessionals in the classroom up to speed on student progress and your expectations for continued growth, both academically and behaviorally.
Over the years, I have learned a few things about successful and, more importantly, productive team meetings. It's not always easy to do, but it is well worth it. The entire team will benefit and, most importantly, so will the students.
Have an Agenda
Working with a team can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. Keeping up with consistent team meetings will make the rewards even greater!
The first thing, is to schedule consistent meetings. Pick a day. Pick a time. Stick to it. It doesn't matter if somebody is out. Keep the meeting, as scheduled. Once you cancel or postpone one meeting, it makes it easier to do it over and over again.
I suggest you pick one of the middle days so you avoid those Monday and Friday holidays. Of course, sometimes things happen that would prevent you meeting as a team, such as a faculty meeting. It is important to try your best to meet each week.
Nobody likes attending meetings with no purpose. Have a list of things to discuss ready prior to the meeting beginning. One thing I have in place with my team is a "Hold That Thought" board where we can all leave post-its in a location that is hidden from the classroom view.
This is so helpful because we can collect things we need to discuss over the course of the week. Of course, it is important that your team is comfortable bringing up vital topics immediately, if needed.
Have somebody take minutes of your meetings and make copies for each member of your team. This serves a couple of purposes. First, you will always have a record of discussions that were had and solutions that were found. Second, those that may have not been able to attend will know what was discussed.
You can make extra copies for those special area folks, related services providers, and even your principal to keep them in the loop. Who knows? Maybe they'll want to attend your next team meeting!
This should be a given but sometimes team meetings can become a little heated. It is important that all members of your team feel important and listened to. When bringing up a minor issue, "we" language is helpful. For example, instead of saying "you need to ____ more" you can say "we need to ____ more." Using "we language makes conversations less threatening.
In my always hungry opinion, this is the most important thing! If you have food, people will come. If you have especially tasty treats, people that were not even invited will try showing up! In all honesty, having food on the table puts people at ease and makes team meetings seem less formal and more conversational. Bagels and cream cheese are my favorite treats to bring for morning team meetings. You can take turns being the one in charge of treats to ease the cost.