5 Mistakes to Avoid When Constructing SMART Goals in MTSS

    Tier 2, Tier 3, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    Student goal setting is a topic that is often covered during teacher professional development and in-service days. Educators have naturally been setting goals for students since the beginning of teaching, and goal setting today has become a critical element of an effective MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework. MTSS meets all student’s needs with three levels of support for each school's entire student body. Within MTSS, Tier I (also known as whole class core instruction), the core curriculum should be meeting the needs of at least 80% of all students. Tier II includes whole class core instruction with the addition of targeted instruction for students needing support, often provided in small groups. Tier III is whole class core instruction, additional targeted instruction, and explicit intensive intervention. Support activities provided to students receiving Tier II and Tier III instruction should be robust, research-driven and align to student’s specific needs.

    Student Engagement: Why It’s Important and How To Promote It

    SEL and Behavior, Tier 1 - Core Instruction, Reflective Teaching

    As we move into the final stretch of one of the most challenging school years in our history, teachers and students might be noticing a decline in stamina. No matter the learning context (remote, in-person, or hybrid) keeping students engaged in learning at this point in the year is a common challenge. Although numerous teaching obstacles remain, there are several small but significant things that schools and teachers can do to boost and maintain student engagement.

    Below we take a deeper dive into what student engagement really is and why it is so important. Then we discuss some practical approaches for keeping students interested and involved in lessons, activities, and discussions. 

    Making MTSS/RTI Work More Efficient Through Groups

    MTSS Practice, Tier 2

    We know educators strive to provide the appropriate level of instructional support each student needs to achieve at least grade-level mastery. We have all experienced students arriving to our classrooms with a wide range of knowledge, skills, experience and interest. It is quickly evident we cannot just charge through the curriculum lockstep and hope that every student gets what they need. Even when utilizing varied daily instruction to accommodate for students’ different learning needs, some students still require additional support to master new skills and content or catch up on missing skills from previous years’ standards. 

    Intervention Planning in MTSS: Balancing Best Practices and Feasibility

    Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    A few weeks ago we put out a blog post which took a critical look at commonly used Reading intervention programs in MTSS. While many educators are aware of the issues and limitations of these programs, some might find it hard to make the recommended shifts in their MTSS practice given the resources available to them. Funding, staffing, schedules, and remote learning are all factors that can affect a district and school’s ability to implement supports and interventions in line with what we know from research and best practices for MTSS. 

    How to Show Your Teachers Some Love

    Leadership in MTSS

    No, it's not 'teacher appreciation week,' but it is the season of love. ❤️

    Teachers have a tremendous impact on their students' learning and lives. Although showing them love and appreciation for all the fantastic work they do should not be limited to a season or a day of celebration, it is still worth the spotlight in February when the topic is ever present. 

    Transitioning from a Discrepancy Model to MTSS

    Instituting MTSS

    I often find myself taking a walk down memory lane and thinking back to when I was in graduate school completing my clinical hours for my M.A.T. in special education. I will never forget my excitement for learning about teaching and for understanding how to comprehensively meet all students' needs. Today, as a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) consultant, I am still experiencing that excitement daily, and I often like to take a few moments to think about how significantly processes have changed over the years to ensure all students can succeed, and why those changes are more critical now than ever. 

    Top 5 Most Common MTSS Reading Programs Used in 2020

    Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    An effective core reading curriculum, as well as differentiated support for struggling readers, is essential for any MTSS practice. But with the hundreds of reading programs available for districts and schools, it can be difficult to determine which one is the most effective.

    Below we outline the five most frequently used reading programs and platforms by Branching Minds school districts throughout 2020. We provide a critical overview of the research and evidence base for these programs and outline what educators should be aware of when implementing these approaches. We also include some general recommendations for teachers, principals, and administrators to ensure that their reading curriculum is effectively meeting the needs of all students. 

    How to Help Students That Are One or More Grade Levels Behind

    Tier 3, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies, Reflective Teaching

    The impact of remote instruction on students has been discussed a great deal during the past ten months, while our nation’s teachers grapple with the complexities of implementing distance learning. As teachers and students engage daily in e-learning, with some schools pivoting back and forth between a hybrid model of remote and in-person schooling, the topic of what it actually means for students to be at “grade level” has been trending. Prior to COVID-19, students were considered to be on “grade level” if they had mastered the skills and concepts at their expected level of difficulty as measured by formal assessments and district/state standards. 

    Supporting English Language Learners, Bilingual, and Dual-Language Students in MTSS

    MTSS Practice, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    A strong and effective MTSS model should support all students, no matter their language preference and background. Despite the number of students in the United States who come from diverse linguistic backgrounds, the programs and supports provided often do not meet the needs of non-English speakers. In addition, students who do not speak English as their first language are often identified as having underlying reading issues, when the problem lies in the proper translational skills from one language to another.

    For students in Bilingual or Dual-Language programs, the support being provided should also address the learning needs in both languages. The following are examples of programs and practices that can specifically be used within Bilingual and Dual-Language classrooms as well as with students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) to better support their development of reading across languages. 

    Evaluating the Quality and Impact of Your MTSS/RTI Practice

    MTSS Practice, MTSS Basics

    In a healthy RTI/MTSS practice, a data-driven approach is not only important for guiding decisions for individual student needs, but it’s also critical for evaluating the quality and impact of the practice at the school and district level. We recommend that school and/or district leadership meet three times a year, following the administration of universal screening assessments, to reflect on and evaluate their practice. The goal of this meeting is to understand the health of school-level RTI/MTSS practice by looking at the percent of students who are adequately being served by the core, the equity of instruction across demographics, and improvement in student outcome measures since the last meeting. These metrics are used to evaluate the quality of practice across tier 1, 2, and 3 levels of support and guide school-level improvement plans.