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    Instituting MTSS

    Recently, my sister asked me if emailing teachers several times a week is too much. She wanted to know how her three elementary-age children were doing in class, and one child in particular. Whether a parent, a teacher, or both, you know how important it is to work as a team. Families and school staff are working for the same outcome: student growth and success. 

    Family communication is a critical part of supporting student needs in a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, starting with positive interactions about student strengths and honest, constructive feedback about student progress. When problems arise, those investments in relationships pay off because administrators, teachers, and families have previous positive interactions and trust to draw on. Research tells us that increased family engagement impacts student attendance, student engagement,  and student success in school. We can’t afford to NOT connect with families! 

    Here are some easy-to-use ideas and strategies to help you communicate about the MTSS process with families.

    1. MTSS Family Intro: SLIDE DECK

    Make the first introduction to MTSS for families a simple and positive message about how your school supports all students, including those who need extra help. Share this brief slide deck with families during back-to-school events, conferences, or a family engagement night. 

    2. Building Personal Relationships: SURVEYS

    Strong relationships with families pay dividends in critical moments. It starts with small steps — getting to know families and creating a common understanding of the students you serve. Getting to know students and their families takes time, especially if you have more than one section of students. A simple survey for families provides meaningful information and connection points with your students.  

    DOWNLOAD:  

    ⇨ Google Form Version
    ⇨ Canva Version

    3. Communications Protocol: SCRIPTS

    Use a clear protocol for staff about when and how to communicate MTSS with parents to help eliminate time delays and confusion. Phone and email scripts help teachers communicate without starting from scratch or jumping through hoops and ensure clear communication from the school.

    Consider this standard treatment protocol:

    MTSS Standard Treatment Protocol

    Suggested Parent Communications

    Identify students in need and root causes

    Email/letter home, phone call

    Create effective intervention plans

    Email/letter home, phone call 

    Implement and monitor progress

    Parent-teacher conference, individual student support meeting, phone call

    Interpret and use data to adjust

    Parent-teacher conference, individual student support meeting, phone call 

    (From "When is the 'Right' Time to Involve Parents?")

    Phone Script

    Making phone calls can be a challenge, especially if you are worried about being understood by parents. A simple phone script can be extremely helpful for new or even veteran teachers. Remember to make the first call a proactive, positive one! 

    Email Script

    When helping parents understand MTSS, be sure you are offering clear, practical information. This email template can help. 

    DOWNLOAD:  

    ⇨ Phone Script PDF
    ⇨ Editable Email Script (Canva)
    ⇨ Email Script PDF

    4. Tracking Family Contacts: COMMUNICATIONS LOG

    It’s essential to track parent contact to ensure that all parents are getting the information they need and that parents of struggling students aren’t overwhelmed with redundant or negative communication. 

    The Branching Minds platform streamlines communication and enhances collaboration by allowing everyone on a student’s team to see basic details of all parent contacts, whether by letter, phone, email, or in person.  

    family-communications-log

    Branching Minds' Family Communication Log


    5. Student Ownership: STUDENT-LED CONFERENCE TEMPLATE

    Communicating student progress can be a challenge. Most parents are busy and want to know whether their child is on track or not. Involving students themselves in explaining their work in the classroom and intervention can be a game-changer. Hearing students explain their progress in their own words helps further parents’ understanding and investment in the educational journey.

    Learn more about the impact of student-led conferences from Lindsey Helton, Principal in Waco, TX, in this episode of Schoolin’ Around Podcast!

    DOWNLOAD:  

    ⇨ Student Led Conference Slides Template

    Remember my sister sending those emails to her children's teachers? She knows how important it is to support her kids’ education in different ways at home, and to build a partnership with the teachers who are working hard to meet the needs of all their students. I told her that, most likely, the teachers would appreciate her reaching out and would gladly help in whatever way they could. When teachers and parents are on the same team, everyone benefits…especially the students!


    Additional Resources: 


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    Tagged: Instituting MTSS

    March 19, 2024

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