“[MTSS] offers a way to look at the whole child. MTSS says we're looking at the social emotional learning of the students, how their language and cultural considerations are impacting accessing the curriculum. We're looking at math and literacy and looking how all these things kind of integrate together to create the most effective and more high quality instruction or experience for the student.”
– Dr. Claudia Rinaldi in the webinar "Supporting Engish Language Learners Within MTSS"
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.
Time is our most precious resource in education. Ask any administrator or teacher, and the desire for more time is likely at the top of their list! Because time is so valuable, it is critical that we make the most of professional learning related to MTSS. Educators are picky about professional learning, and rightly so. They want the time invested in learning about MTSS to have a direct impact on their work and on student outcomes. That is what school leaders want, too.
Reading difficulty has an outsized effect on a student's ability to be successful in school and in life. Dyslexia is defined as “a brain-based learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to read.” (Stanley & Petscher, 2017) Reading ability can also be impacted by the “lack of education opportunity and appropriate literacy instruction.” (Dundas, 2023) Fortunately, research suggests that early identification and intervention for dyslexia prevents further difficulty for the student. In fact, most states now have dyslexia legislation requiring reading training for teachers and support for struggling students, according to the National Center for Improving Literacy.
One of my mistakes as a new instructional coach was applying my understanding of student learning directly to the adult professional development sessions I led. My goal was to model instructional practices and strategies that worked with students. However, my super fun, get-out-of-the-seat learning games were not as engaging or appropriate for adult learners. I quickly realized that training for my peers would look vastly different than for a classroom full of 8th graders.
According to research by the RAND Research Group, “Nationally, 99 percent of teachers participated in one or more summer professional learning activities and believed that they were relevant, helpful for improving instructional practice, and just as useful as other activities the teachers' schools and districts provided.” (Steiner et al. 2021)
As a middle school teacher, I tapped into every creative avenue for presenting information to my students. My students were diverse, not only culturally but also with different interests, strengths, and challenges. Hooking them on a concept was hard work! I was competing with their phones and social lives. Even so, I wanted to ensure the skills and concepts covered in my English class stuck in their brains for a long time.
Student engagement remains a consistent topic of interest for educators. How do educators and schools compete with all the other entertainment forms that captivate students? As a former middle school teacher, I often felt like I needed to be a circus performer to capture students' attention, standing on my desk and keeping a continuously high-energy environment. However, that isn’t the case. Engagement within the classroom often starts at a simpler level, by meeting the needs of students and building an environment they want to be a part of each day.
Equity often seems like a lofty idea, and complicated to achieve. How do we make sure that schools are set up to meet every student where they are and provide the support they need to succeed? When it comes to actually addressing equity, the application is the hardest part. This is where a Multi-Tiered System of Supports comes in. The MTSS framework makes it possible to meet the needs of students and practically, intentionally close those learning gaps.