Tool 3: How to Conduct Interagency Transition Team Meetings
The purpose of Tool 3 is to assist teams to conduct effective team meetings, resolve typical transition issues or barriers, and move from preparations to actions. Tool 3 will begin with a discussion about how to conduct initial meetings, then move on to a section about “Moving from Preparations to Actions.”
A. Preparing For and Conducting Initial Meetings
How to describe the purpose of the meeting
A first meeting has the potential to set the tone for the entire team for months, and perhaps even years, to come. While many members may desire to broach many different objectives and agendas at a first meeting, most attendees will probably leave with a high level of frustration if they do not find a cohesive, organized meeting that provides some concrete accomplishments.
Team members know they are gathering for a specific goal – in this case, to assist with the transition of youth with disabilities. To ensure everyone has the same objectives, it is often helpful to provide a handout, accessible to all participants, with a written statement of the team’s mission.
Once that is completed, ground rules for the team are helpful. A set of ground rules can begin with the nine Principles of Teaming described earlier. If everyone can agree to conduct team meetings with a similar set of expectations, it will help facilitate the entire process.
Brainstorming issues, within the parameters of the mission, can be very helpful at a first meeting. For example, discussing transition activities and issues that team members are already knowledgeable about might lead to identifying committee agendas, committee members, and initial timelines. Refinement of the vision might also occur.
The question may arise concerning who should conduct the first meeting. We recommend that whoever calls the meeting begin to conduct it, but be prepared to discuss with the group who will conduct future meetings.
How to facilitate a well-organized meeting
The various roles within interagency teams are likely to evolve and/or rotate over specific periods of time. However, at the outset, the team leader or originator should act as facilitator until the team selects one or more members to perform that duty. Thus, once introductions have been made, the initial task of the team leader (or the person calling the meeting) when convening all members for the first time is to clarify role responsibilities, and then determine who will accept the roles of:
Agreeing on the members who will be first in these roles at this earliest stage in your meetings, and rotating these responsibilities over time, is an example of how to apply Principle 3: Sharing the Decision-Making.
Setting the ground rules for your meeting
Establishing ground rules needs to be a team process set at the first interagency team meeting. The following is an example of a modified consensus-building process that may be used until the team agrees upon its own decision-making process.
How to Identify Ground Rules and Operational Procedures
What does a typical agenda look like?
Pre-planning the first interagency team meeting is important for leaders wanting to instill a sense of positive and purposeful collaboration, as well as set the tone for efficiency by ensuring that the meeting starts and ends on time. Below are generic sample agenda items that are appropriate for state or local level interagency teams. Not all items need to be addressed in a single meeting, but all should be addressed early in the team’s schedule of meetings.
Sample Meeting Agenda
B. Moving from Preparations to Actions
What resources does the team already have?
An excellent method to apply Principle 4: Demonstrating Synergy is resource mapping, as it elicits higher-order thinking, creative visioning, and problemsolving. It is valuable for interagency teams to employ resource mapping at various times in their planning sessions, including when the team first convenes, to create its vision and before it devises a strategic action plan. Mapping is a methodology that can be useful to link and align school, community, district, and regional or state resources with organizational goals, strategies, or expected outcomes for teams attempting renewal. Mapping is also a useful activity to inspire newly-created interagency transition teams to begin envisioning potential outcomes based on resources uncovered.
Essential Steps to Resource Mapping
Resource mapping enables interagency teams to build systems that serve individuals with disabilities in transition rather than targeting funds based on criteria and categories. Moreover, resource mapping can help community or state agencies identify a need for additional policy or legislation to fill a gap or enhance an existing program. This methodology can allow team members to acquire valuable information about different agencies’ policies, procedures, funding streams, and collaborative practices. As well, mapping can guide the team in compiling a comprehensive set of policy recommendations across agencies and/or identifying further opportunities for interagency collaboration. A set of worksheets for interagency transition teams to use is provided at the end of this Tool.
Before using these worksheets, teams are also advised to review Principle 5 on valuing diversity. Some suggestions to get the most out of the resource mapping activity that this Principle encourages are:
How to create a strategic action plan
Most likely, when the interagency transition team convenes for the second meeting a strategic action plan will be developed. This plan should include (a) a schedule of meetings including, perhaps, public ones; (b) what is to be accomplished at each meeting, and (c) how and by whom meetings will be facilitated.
To segue from envisioning the mission statement to formalizing major tasks, the interagency team needs to list its desired outcomes, goals, and wishes. These are what team members want to see happen so the team can move toward realizing its vision or mission. A simple three-step process taking approximately 30 minutes should be sufficient:
How to Create a Strategic Action Plan
Some of the common tasks team leaders can anticipate may include:
Applying the Principles of Teaming to Tool 3
How to Apply Principles 2-9
While all the Principles can be applied to this Tool, it may be most useful for leaders and their teams to first focus on those Principles mentioned below:
Because this Tool addresses nearly all the activities of an interagency transition team, it also incorporates the nine Principles of Teaming. While Principles three through five are clearly inherent in specific recommendations above, they, along with the other Principles need to be considered in all of the team’s processes. Various approaches can be used to ensure this happens, and team leaders and facilitators should encourage team dialogue to direct just how this occurs. Your team may choose to review the Principles in an ongoing fashion at team meetings, with the team only considering a single Principle at one meeting, then the next Principle at a subsequent meeting, and so on. To avoid having members feel a particular Principle has been chosen because someone feels the group is somehow failing to apply it, teams could agree to review the Principles in the order they are presented in the Introductory Tool. Alternately, teams who prefer a direct problem-solution approach could encourage members to discuss how well the team is applying or exhibiting a specific desired Principle and how changes and/or improvements can be made (e.g., suggestions could be taken anonymously). For a more formal assessment of how well the team is applying the Principles, the worksheet in Tool 4 can be used.
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Citation: Stodden, R. A., Brown, S. E., Galloway, L. M., Mrazek, S., & Noy, L. (2004). Essential tools: Interagency transition team development and facilitation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.
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This document was published by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET). NCSET is supported through a cooperative agreement #H326J000005 with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education Programs, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The University of Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition are equal opportunity employers and educators.