The twelfth teacher has called in sick tomorrow, and you are out of substitutes. Now, you’re deciding whether to combine classrooms or ask an administrator to step in as a teacher for the day. Suddenly, you question whether you have enough staff to open tomorrow, with any plans for student learning or interventions suddenly pushed to the side as you go into an emergency response mode.
Whether teacher absences are due to an influx in COVID-19 cases, unfilled positions from the beginning of the year, an overly stressed staff utilizing a much-needed mental health day, or all of the above, a sudden staff shortage can be an incredibly challenging hurdle for school districts to handle.
In the age of COVID-19, these shortages can come with hard decisions. In a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Colorado, district officials were forced to transition to remote learning for five days when staff absences surpassed 20%. These difficult decisions can disrupt all aspects of a school’s operations, including fidelity to MTSS processes.
However, MTSS is more relevant in times of educational crises than ever before. MTSS (Multi-Tier System of Supports) is a systematic approach to education that accounts for the needs of the whole student, including support for academic and social-emotional elements of a student’s learning. Better yet, MTSS is not just limited to the students it serves; this system also delivers benefits to a school and its staff—benefits that can help alleviate the strain during times of stress.
When faced with times of crisis, it can be easy to push our MTSS practice off to the side as we go into crisis mitigation mode, but staff shortages do not need to spell an end to our MTSS process. Instead, this provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate our MTSS practice and system to ensure that we have implemented a process that can survive a “worse case scenario” dilemma.
Let’s take a look at some strategies to continue MTSS with a reduced staff.
I remember thinking last December that if we could just get to 2021, if we could just get through the insanity and exhaustion that was 2020, that we would feel a light at the end of this tunnel. I wanted to buy all of the 2020 dumpster fire gag gifts, as if saying that these challenges were a product of the year 2020 could seal them up tight so they couldn’t possibly follow us into another year. I also know myself to be a relentless optimist, which for the most part has served me well…so I leaned into that optimism hard.
WHOA. 2020, has been some kind of year… A year of unprecedented times -- COVID, extreme weather, a divisive election, soaring unemployment...so much hardship and so much loss. This year has pressure tested our systems, all of them.
2020 has been a doozy and I’m pretty sure I won’t be alone celebrating the new year of 2021 with a capital C. That being said this Thanksgiving, I, and the entire Branching Minds team, have a ton for which to be grateful.
DeSoto ISD is looking to take a more holistic approach to teaching its students through a learning model known as a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, the district announced.
I know this election season has been an unusual and particularly contentious one. The near-constant arguing, name-calling and just general melee of the last presidential debate certainly seemed like an invitation to check out from the whole debacle.