Pre-k teachers often use team meetings to share activity ideas for upcoming themes and to plan field trips and special events. While teachers gain helpful resources and accomplish planning in these team meetings, some valuable group work may be left out.
As the demands on teachers increase to develop school ready students, i'ts necessary to re-consider how to make the time spent in meetings more collaborative and efficient to increase school readiness. By using team planning time to analyze student data, jointly plan instruction for RTI-tiered strategies, and develop common thematic activities, teachers may have a larger impact on developing school ready students. Additionally, by using team meeting tools like a team meeting agendas, norms, and assigned roles, pre-k teams can maximize their limited time together.
Below we offer several resources to help the pre-k team at your campus improve the way it collaborates in order to increase school readiness.
1. What is a pre-k team meeting?
A pre-k team meeting is a weekly meeting of pre-k teachers at one campus. On campuses with a large number of pre-k teachers, several teams may be formed with 4-5 teachers each. In addition to pre-k teachers, PPCD, Head Start, and/or childcare co-teachers may participate in a pre-k team meeting
2. What is the purpose of a pre-k team meeting?
A pre-k team meeting allows teachers to collaboratively plan for student learning.Incorporating multiple perspectives when planning can significantly improve learning for all students.During team meetings, educators can share data collection methods, analyze student data, identify learning goals for specific students, and plan lesson and center activities for the upcoming week.
3. How have pre-k team meetings traditionally been used?
In the past, pre-k team meetings have been used to review curriculum teacher editions for ideas, and sharing of other ideas related to that week's theme.Additionally, team meetings have often been used to discuss business such as planning field trips and special events, and to discuss how pre-k will comply with school mandates.Within these meetings, teams have rarely made use of meeting tools such as agendas, norms, and assigned roles.
4. Why change the way pre-k team meetings are used?
A large percentage of students are still not school ready at the end of pre-k. When meeting time is used efficiently to focus on improving lesson quality and linking data to instruction, collaborative team meetings can strongly support teachers to increase school readiness.
5. Pre-k team meetings sometimes only involve 2-3 people and include adults who are most comfortable interacting in a casual manner.Â Why use meeting tools in such a group?
Meeting tools help the group focus on group priorities and use time efficiently. Consistent meeting times, note taking templates, and norms improve communication and increase productivity. Defined goals help team members remain focused during team meetings. Assigning roles and responsibilities helps team members participate fully, take ownership for the content and outcome of the meeting, and hold each other accountable.
6. What do pre-k team meetings that strengthen instruction look like?
Pre-k team meetings that strengthen instruction have team members that work together toward clear, measureable goals to increase student learning.
Successful teams meet once per week for at least 45 minutes either during their planning period, before school, or after school. Team members arrive on time and prepared to share ideas, plan lessons, discuss assessment data and collection methods, and discover new strategies to support student learning.Each team member reviews the Teacher's Edition(TE) of the curriculum ahead of time and is prepared to assume a role in planning process.
Because team member roles and responsibilities, as well as the meeting agenda, are set ahead of time, the meeting runs efficiently and is productive.Each team member participates and plays an important role in the meeting, such as facilitator, recorder, or time keeper.
Team members begin the meeting by discussing what went well during the week.The facilitator then leads the team through a pre-determined agenda. Teachers share lesson details that will help each other. For example, teacher A explains changes/improvements that she will make to the math lessons from the TE and additional math lessons she will teach.She also shares materials for these lessons that she created, ideas for extending math lessons into centers for the week using materials that teachers already have in their classrooms, and strategies for gathering data to assess math competencies on the pre-k report card.
Teachers B and C discuss details for read aloud lessons and centers related to the new theme. As the recorder, Teacher C uses an action plan list for each task listing who is responsible and by when they will complete it. For example, Teacher A may need to e-mail shape cards to her team members by Thursday.
Teachers take time to identify opportunities to collect data to assess student understanding by using checklists, work samples, etc. They plan time to teach key pre-k guidelines/ competencies.Occasionally they use team meetings to analyze assessment data and consider how they'll need to alter RTI Tier I and Tier II instruction for struggling students.
At the end of each meeting the teachers decide who will take on each role for the next team meeting.An easy way to do this is to rotate roles. For example, the current facilitator will become the recorder for the next meeting; the current recorder will become the time keeper, etc. Team members will also decide on agenda items for the next team meeting and decide who is responsible for leading the discussion and bringing ideas and materials for each agenda item.
7. What is NOT included in an effective pre-k team meeting?
Teachers maximize their time to focus on student learning by not spending meeting time discussing business items such as when report cards are due, what the schedule for early dismissal day looks like, etc. Instead, these items can be taken care of over e-mail or through memos.
8. What is the value added with collaborative pre-k team meetings?
Data driven planning is more likely to raise student achievement. Students are less likely to 'slip between the cracks' when multiple teachers are reviewing assessment data and strategizing about how to help struggling students. Teachers can then select intentional classroom activities that are based on how well they address the Pre-k Guidelines and the needs of their students, rather than how closely they link to the theme.
Focused team meetings that utilize meeting tools help teachers save time and stay focused on the goal(s) of the meeting. When team members come prepared with materials and resources to share, planning moves quickly. When team members divide up lesson planning, teachers can spend more time on creating quality lessons. When they receive lessons from their colleagues, they only need to customize the plans to meet the needs of their students (rather than writing the plans from scratch).
Collaboration has a direct impact on students, too. Students receive the benefits of instruction planned by a team of teachers with different strengths and perspectives. Lessons created by the combined efforts of several teachers can be more powerful than plans developed by a single teacher. Specifically, teachers who collaborate are more likely to discuss with their colleagues areas of the curriculum they have difficulty teaching. They are also likely to obtain ideas and feedback from their peers to help solve instructional dilemmas.
9. For districts using the Ready, Set, K (RSK!), how can team meetings help teachers plan, teach, and assess all RSK! report card competencies?
As teachers review lessons from the Teacher Editions, they can identify lessons during which they can complete checklists, have students create work samples, or gather other data to assess RSK! competencies.
Teachers may use team time to discuss what a '1', '2', '3', and '4' look like for a particular competency.Each teacher can bring 3 pieces of data for one student. They can exchange data with a colleague and score each other's students.They can then discuss any differences in scoring.These types of discussions strengthen the reliability and validity of RSK! scoring.
10. What are some barriers to teacher collaborative planning?
The most common barrier to collaborative planning is usually time. Teachers are stretched thin and rushed. It's difficult to slow down and analyze data to plan for instruction. It's easier to work together on a surface level, sharing ideas and tending to business. It is more likely that conflict will arise when teachers work in a more engaged approach, reviewing and scoring each other's students' work, writing common lessons, and agreeing on new practices and activities to teach specific learning objectives.
Planning in this way takes more preparation. Agendas must be set and teachers must review their resources prior to the meeting. The payoff is that team meeting time is used more efficiently and the team works in a collaborative mindset for the improvement of all students in the pre-k program.
Professional collaboration requires a sophisticated skill set for open communication and conflict resolution. Without administrative support for teachers to develop and use these skills, collaboration is unlikely to be effective or sustained.