Benefits of and Strategies for Teacher Collaboration in MTSS

    MTSS Practice, Reflective Teaching

    Even though most teachers and school administrators agree that teacher collaboration leads to improved outcomes for both teachers and students, many schools are still not providing enough time for teachers to work together during school hours. Of course, there are many challenges in building a master schedule that gives teachers this time, but there is also a growing body of research showing the significant benefits of facilitating effective collaboration.

    Teacher collaboration is an important element for school improvement across the nation, and even more important when it comes to implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) approach, and certainly worth taking a deeper dive.

    Aligning Your MTSS Practice with the CASEL Core Competencies

    SEL and Behavior, MTSS Practice

    When discussing SEL with educators, CASEL alignment almost always gets brought up. Because so many districts, schools, programs, and assessments have aligned themselves with CASEL’s framework for SEL, educators should have a thorough understanding of what CASEL is and what an alignment with the CASEL five core competencies looks like in practice. Below, we highlight key CASEL resources, components of their SEL framework, what it really means to be “CASEL aligned”, and how that alignment fits into an MTSS model. 

    Progress Monitoring for MTSS at the Secondary Level

    MTSS Assessment Data, MTSS for Secondary

    As a professional development consultant for Branching Minds, I work with teachers and administrators from all over the country. I frequently get asked how progress monitoring should look at the middle school and high school levels.

    MTSS in Secondary Schools: Major Challenges, and How to Overcome Them

    MTSS for Secondary

    Secondary teachers and leaders often cite difficulties and frustrations when they are asked about their current RTI/MTSS practice or implementation. My own experience with this work started when a district-level administrator walked into my office (about 2 seconds into my first year as a high school Asst. Principal) and dropped off a thick binder titled MTSS (that used to be titled RTI). Here you go. Run with this and see what you can do. MTSS? In high school? Why, how?

    Some leaders don’t see the point of MTSS in secondary schools and think of it as a framework that belongs in elementary schools. Others understand the importance of implementing a strong practice, but when they take steps towards establishing the structures and procedures they meet many challenges and quickly get frustrated, which was my experience almost immediately.

    MTSS as an Organizing Principle for Moving Beyond the 2020-2021 SY

    Instituting MTSS, Leadership in MTSS

    Long before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered our nation’s schools in mid-March 2020, many districts across the country had been working to transition to MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports). Schools were “ditching” their more traditional models to evaluate students for special education and instead began moving towards a more holistic approach to consider the needs of all students.

    Many chose to transition to MTSS as it uses a multi-tiered support foundation that wraps around a school’s entire student body and uses data-driven problem-solving to address academic and non-academic (attendance, social-emotional, etc.) needs. Schools and districts making this shift found that they improved education for all students, gained efficiencies, and prevented students from “slipping through the cracks.”

    3 SEL and Behavioral Interventions that Support Students’ Mental Health & Well-Being

    SEL and Behavior, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    A few weeks ago, we posted a blog outlining how to support students’ mental health in an MTSS framework. An important part of this work includes using evidence-based programs and practices that effectively promote students’ sense of well-being.

    This week, we are spotlighting three school-based programs that have extensive research supporting their impact on students’ social, emotional, and academic outcomes. If your district or school is looking to implement a mental health prevention program, we recommend reviewing this list to see if any of the following interventions meet the needs of your students and staff. 

    What are High-Leverage Tier 1 Interventions for Elementary Schools?

    Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies, MTSS for Elementary

    It is early October in Des Moines, Iowa. Educators at Smithfield Elementary School have just finished administering the universal screeners they use for Reading, Math, and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). The MTSS team now has the school’s beginning of year (BOY) baseline data they need to evaluate their progress in helping all students succeed. 

    The team gathers to review the data. Ms. Powell poses the first guiding question of the meeting: Is our core instruction supporting 80% of our students (i.e., are 80% of students on grade level)?

    Restorative Practices and How They Fit into MTSS

    SEL and Behavior

    When discussing behavior management approaches with schools and districts, the notion of restorative practices is commonly brought up as an effective school-wide solution. There are many benefits to using restorative approaches, but it is important for school leaders to have a deeper understanding of what restorative practices entail and how they should be implemented. Below we outline the key components of a restorative practices approach along with guidelines for implementation and how to avoid common challenges and pitfalls. Finally, we discuss how these approaches actually impact schools and students and how they work within an MTSS framework. 

    5 Considerations When Selecting an RTI/MTSS Intervention Management Software

    Instituting MTSS, MTSS Data Literacy, Leadership in MTSS

    School districts are increasingly adopting MTSS/RTI intervention management software to help teachers streamline their documentation work and strengthen their student intervention practice. This is largely due to the evolution of the MTSS/RTI software space, which has grown significantly over the past ten years.

    There are two primary factors responsible for this renaissance: 1) advancements in technology and design have finally made their way into education technology, fostering user experience and engagement that delights rather than dismays teachers; and 2) the culture of intervention has shifted from the compliance-driven Response to Intervention protocol, which often felt like a laborious chore, to the more holistic and school-wide practice of Multi-Tiered System of Supports, which resonates with teachers' desire to personalize and accelerate learning in equitable ways.

    Making the Case that RTI/MTSS is NOT Just Something Extra

    MTSS Practice, Instituting MTSS

    As a lifelong educator, I have worked for decades with teachers and teacher candidates in pre-k through high school classrooms in both public and private schools. One constant for my teachers across the board regardless of subject matter/specialty or grades taught--all consistently have experienced the “educational pendulum” swinging throughout their careers, and some may have even experienced the pendulum swing with multiple initiatives, new policies, etc. in a single year. In just this past year alone, teachers have experienced the shift from remote instruction to hybrid learning, and then back to in-person learning. It is no surprise that experiencing many shifts in the classroom can lead to fatigue, burnout, skepticism and a feeling that whatever the change is, “it won’t last.” Research has found that teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons, and this can obviously be exhausting, especially when trying to keep up with new school initiatives (Watson, 2017). Unfortunately, due to this exhaustion, I believe that some vital processes such as MTSS/RTI run the risk of becoming miscategorized and put on the “just something else to do” list; rather than recognized as a best practice for all students, and a model for all schools.