How To Measure SEL - 7 Approaches to Consider

    SEL and Behavior, MTSS Practice

    We know from both research and practice that assessing and measuring social-emotional competencies is an important part of promoting social-emotional learning. For a long time, social and emotional skills were seen as something less tangible than academic skills and therefore also viewed as something that couldn’t be accurately measured. After decades of research and collaboration among educators, psychologists, psychometricians, and other practitioners, we now know that social-emotional competencies can be reliably assessed. However, there are many different approaches that schools use to get this type of social-emotional data. Below we outline some of the common approaches for measuring SEL and the pros and cons to consider when planning on implementing Social-Emotional Learning(SEL) surveys, assessments and screeners. 

    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. 

    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. 

    Learning Loss VS Instructional Loss, & Addressing Loss Within MTSS

    MTSS Practice, Reflective Teaching

    As more districts are heading back to in-person learning, educators are being tasked with meeting the needs of students who have had a wide range of instructional and learning experiences over the past year. This might seem like even more of an uphill battle than what teachers have already gone through. Yet, there are several approaches that schools and districts can turn to help support this transition. Many of these approaches are key components of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), with which educators are already familiar. Below, we highlight the important distinction between learning and instructional loss as well as outline a few tips for effectively addressing the different skills and needs of students when they return to schools and classrooms. 

    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. 

    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. 

    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. 

    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. 

    Top 10 High-Leverage Math Strategies Used in 2020

    Tier 1 - Core Instruction, Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    When it comes to improving students’ understanding of math skills and concepts, it is essential for them to feel a sense of efficacy, motivation, and engagement with the material. One way to ensure this is by implementing methods that not only help students solve the problem in front of them but also develop cognitive skills to solve more difficult and complex problems independently. 

    Top Used Supports for High School Students in 2020

    Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies, MTSS for Secondary

    This week we are summarizing our top 10 most commonly used interventions, supports, and strategies for high school students. When implementing MTSS district-wide, secondary students can sometimes fall through the cracks. However, supporting these students to ensure they develop the skills and competencies to graduate and be successful beyond high school is essential. If you are looking to support your secondary level students in 2021, here are some strategies and programs you can check out: