Educators frequently find themselves navigating leadership and decision-making roles with little to no job-specific training in how to gain buy-in, generate innovative ideas, and build strong teams. To empower these leaders, it's essential to provide them with professional learning content that goes beyond theory, offering practical tools to initiate successful change and guide the implementation process.
Team-based decision-making, driven by data analysis and collective expertise, is at the heart of MTSS practice. As school psychologist, author, and researcher Gary Shaffer aptly expressed, "It's about supporting the students, but it's also about empowering adults to make decisions together."
Principals, YOU are the most essential component in successfully implementing any initiative. At the same time, building a collaborative team of teacher-leaders is the key to long-term success. Just as a structural engineer collaborates with architects to build a strong foundation for a home, principals need to build a coalition of teachers to design and implement an effective Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to meet the needs of all students.
A robust and continuous MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) program has been proven to lead to more positive school environments, more robust core instruction, and effective interventions. However, getting the cart rolling and everyone on board is not an easy task.
"We must recognize that the status quo is comfortable for many adults. But comfort should never come at the cost of our students' potential."
- AJ Crabill, Former School Board Member and Author
You see the need for an MTSS platform to streamline and support your work with students, but how do you bring others on board, especially when you’re not “the boss?” First, don’t discount your influence with the decision-makers in your school district! As someone directly involved in providing instruction and intervention for struggling students, your perspective and experience can be a compelling agent for change, but only if you speak up and carefully make your case.
Note: This blog was originally published in March 2021 and has since been updated.
School leaders, I’d like to circle back with you to think about how you are developing your staff across your school and/or district. A couple of years ago, in this blog on building capacity, I shared the “who, how, and why we don’t” of leaders intentionally building capacity for leadership, sharing their talents and experience more broadly…in essence bringing all you can so that all of your staff and students benefit from every ounce of “know-how” possible!
The original blog post below was created in 2021. Although most aspects of it are still valid and important to apply in the context of communicating about MTSS, I could not republish this without an update that would take into consideration our new ways of learning and communicating since the pandemic, and the speed with which we have embraced new technologies, change, and ways of pivoting quickly. So here is what I would love for each reader to consider as you read this article:
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.
In the spring, the world comes alive with extreme growth. Plants blossom. Anyone with a yard or a garden knows that as growth happens, it requires patience and perseverance to help the garden become fruitful. From planting the seeds to watering, weeding, and nurturing the plants, countless tasks go into creating a thriving garden. In the same way, tending to your Multi-Tiered System of Supports requires patience, time, and attention to help your practice thrive.