To Coordinate:bring the different elements of (a complex activity or organization) into a relationship that will ensure efficiency or harmony. (Oxford Dictionary)
One of the challenges schools may have when implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Supports is that many elements must work together. Launching and enacting a new framework for anything is a huge task affecting many stakeholders. Whether in the beginning or middle of this work, it requires immense intentionality and planning. Not only that, but it requires leadership, working together with all stakeholders to achieve outcomes.
School districts, big and small or in between, must be intentional in staffing their MTSS. It can be managed by the department of Special Services or within Curriculum and Instruction. Coordinating the MTSS practice at the campus level might work in various ways every school has different needs and resources. A designated coordinator for MTSS, even if that is not a full-time role, helps ensure the system is supported and continuously improving.
Defining MTSS Coordinator Roles at Different Levels
A strong MTSS team will help build and sustain the framework throughout the implementation and continuous improvement process. Through the first five episodes of our podcast, “Schoolin’ Around,” we talked with different educators, each of which had a specific role in coordinating MTSS practice on their campus or district.
At the beginning of the MTSS process, taking stock of the skills and talents of those within the school team is essential. Planning how to utilize staff to lead and transform this process is a key step in building the MTSS team. Depending on what schedules allow, a hybrid role might work within a school, allowing that MTSS leader to remain close to the students and staff.
At the district level, an MTSS/RTI Coordinator serves as someone who can act as a coach for MTSS and can pull together all the different elements and departments that need to collaborate. This role might also provide training for schools around the MTSS process and help support the overall vision of the work.
Tiffany Studivant, from Clark County School District, describes her work as an Elementary MTSS/RTI Coordinator in the first few years and what it’s like to bring together schools in a larger district at different points in their MTSS practice.
Jenna Blank from Livonia, NY, has a unique role within her school as the MTSS/RTI Coordinator and as a teacher. Her position allows her to utilize her skills and provide a unique perspective for the school's MTSS practice.
Thinking intentionally about the role and responsibilities of the MTSS Leader provides a clear direction for those that fill the position, allowing them to support the MTSS team's work and the school's goals to support all students.
MTSS leaders act as coaches and liaisons between school administrators, teachers, and families. They work hard to bring together complex processes harmoniously and efficiently. Roles and responsibilities should be clear when implementing any initiative or new practice. No matter the title, designated MTSS leaders are crucial to the success of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports.
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Larissa Napolitan is the Digital Content Creator for Branching Minds and the host of Branching Minds' podcast "Schoolin' Around." As a former middle school English teacher and instructional coach, she has over 13 years of experience building systems for improvement, training and coaching teachers in new technology and instructional methods, and leading efforts to build curriculum and literacy initiatives. She holds Masters's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Education Administration from Emporia State University. Not only is she passionate about using her experience and academic knowledge, but loves to use her writing and voice to make a broader impact on education, teachers, and students.