Who should be involved in a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) at your school or district? How can you build time into school schedules for MTSS?
In this episode of Panorama Q&A, I'm tackling your questions about the “who” and the “when” of MTSS: including roles and responsibilities, how to make time for MTSS, and best practices for student support team meetings.
Watch the video below to learn all about setting up the culture and infrastructure to make a tiered system of supports work.
Q: Who should be involved in our MTSS processes?
The short answer is: everyone in your building has a role. MTSS is most effective when you have buy-in from your entire school community and when everyone has clear expectations on how they’ll be involved.
Our job as leaders is to find space for every voice to come to the table. We know that our reading interventionists, counselors, psychologists, custodians, and school nurses each bring a lens on why our students are experiencing school the way that they do, and can support the interventions that we’ve put into place for our kids.
If we’re doing this well, we’re building a culture of all students are our students. We all have a shared responsibility to help our students succeed. For example, if several students have the same needs, this gives the opportunity for a single staff member to support those students whether or not they’re in the same classroom or grade level.
I also want to touch on the role of students and families; their voices should be heard from the very start. Both parents and students can add a lot of insight into to why a student is struggling, so their input should be taken into account every step of the way.
I’d also encourage you to do as much positive outreach to parents and students as early as possible, whether that’s just saying, “You’re doing a great job with your child!” or giving positive feedback to a student who’s been responding well to an intervention.
Q: How can we build time into the school schedule for MTSS?
I love this question because it was something I thought about a lot as a former principal. School schedules are packed, so it can feel impossible to add in time for MTSS—but to this, I’d say that you just need to get creative with schedules. I recommend building MTSS into existing structures so it doesn’t feel like something extra.
For example, every six weeks at my school, we carved out Student Support Team (SST) weeks where we doubled our specials blocks—meaning grade level teams and support staff could come together to crowdsource ideas for Tier 3 interventions. Maybe you can have half days baked in the calendar for staff to do data dives when students aren’t in building. You know your schedule best. See where you can get creative.
Learn about the student support team meetings at Ogden School District (UT).
For the frequency of MTSS meetings, every five to six weeks is what the research recommends. You want to have an appropriate commitment level—not so frequent that there are no updates to discuss, but long enough in between meetings for your interventions to take hold and bloom.
I also want to talk about the content of these meetings and how to use that time productively. What we see happening in most schools today, is that a 20 minute student meeting is usually 10 minutes of reviewing data and 10 minutes of rushing to generate solutions for that student.
In an ideal world, we would shift that ratio so we’re spending the vast majority—if not all of our time—focused on generating MTSS interventions to support our students. With the right systems in place, we’d only need to spend two to five minutes reviewing the data and the majority of time acting on that data to support students.
Want to streamline your MTSS process? Get in touch with our team to see a demo of Panorama's tools for MTSS and RTI intervention management.