One of my favorite memories as an artistic and creative child was when the “art lady” came on Fridays to my 4th-grade class. She would introduce a project, and we got to pull out those crayons and paints we stored in our desks. We learned to do “stained glass” with tissue paper, draw pumpkins, and learn what to do when we made mistakes.
As more and more schools implement a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, a common question I hear in my work as an educational consultant among teachers, administrators, and instructional leaders is, “How are Tier 1 and Tier 2 Different?” They want to know what it means to differentiate at the Tier 1 level, and how this is different than a Tier 2 intervention. It is a valid inquiry that resonates with frustrated teachers experiencing initiative fatigue. The bottom line teachers want to make sense of is…how will their daily instruction be expected to change?
Teachers, how many of you have a perfect Multi-Tiered System of Supports/RTI triangle in your classroom, wherein at least 80% of your students’ needs can be met by Tier 1, core instruction, 10-15% need Tier 2 interventions, and 5% will need additional Tier 3 support?
During the past couple of weeks, I have facilitated Branching Minds’ “Foundations of MTSS” for two elementary campuses. I asked one of the principals what I should write about in a blog dedicated to MTSS on an elementary campus. She pointed out that she wanted to hear more about the layers of support illustrated in the graphic below. “Okay”, I thought I could work on that.
Many districts and schools are now regularly collecting data assessing students’ social-emotional and behavioral skills. Data from assessments and screeners are typically used to identify students needing additional support. Other pieces of data, such as behavior monitoring or tracking, are commonly used to track the progress students are making toward their goals.
In my middle school classroom, the introduction of a group project brought out mixed feelings from students. Many students loved being able to pick their groups and hated it when I assigned groups, while other students wanted to bypass the teamwork altogether.
Don’t you hate being asked, “Are you paying attention?” For some reason, that question always sends me back to elementary school (when, in fact, I was paying attention). But the question also makes me wonder…what is “paying attention?” Is it engagement? Participation? Involvement? And how do these concepts relate to each other?
As a former MTSS coordinator, I always anxiously awaited universal screener results. I wanted to know every single student who needed support and interventions. Optimistically, I believed that once all students on my high school campus had been identified as needing additional support, we, as a school community, would quickly begin creating interventions and support plans to ensure all of our students were successful.
I remember the days when I was teaching a classroom full of 2nd graders, intending to ensure each student would experience success. Then reality set in…Johnny, Sue, and Ben could not read, Sara, Keon, Nhu, and Mike could not learn how to tell time to the half-hour, and Christian, Debora, and Aaron had some behavioral challenges.
Building positive relationships with families is like putting money in the bank! Yes, it takes effort and valuable time, but the investment is absolutely worth it. The MTSS process provides several strategic opportunities to connect with families and partner together to support students.