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    Instituting MTSS

    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.

    “Professional learning allows us to reflect, learn, and grow with the ultimate goal of helping students, families, and communities achieve and live the most positive school experience.” (Schutz 2022) 

    Below are a few tools and resources to consider as you plan for professional development related to MTSS.

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    #1: Have Staff Take a Learning Needs Survey

    Whether you are a new leader or want to change things up in professional development, it is essential to ask your staff how they learn best and what kind of learning they need. It may reveal blindspots in current practices around adult learning and allow you to tailor your limited time to the specific needs of your staff.

    #2: Make Space for Learning

    Evaluating the use of your professional development time is one of the first steps to creating value for that time.

    • How much of your designated Professional Learning time is spent on logistical tasks?
    • What kind of feedback do you receive from teachers? Do you gather feedback at the end of a learning session? 
    • Does your learning session focus match the goals of your school?

    One practice to help eliminate administrative tasks from your meetings is to set up a weekly newsletter with reminders, schedules, and other logistical details disseminated. This document could be referred to at meetings to remind people to refer to it for their questions regarding events and logistical tasks. This established norm for the staff might take an adjustment period but will free up time for those learning moments. 

    Another activity the leadership team or your MTSS team should work through is prioritizing your learning needs using the Eisenhower Chart. This can help you give time to the urgent and important. Evaluating your professional development time like this will help you make the most of that time and set your teams up for success throughout the year. 

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    Professional Learning Priority Matrix

    #3: Provide a Professional Learning Choice Board

    A great way to differentiate learning for your staff is to create a choice board for a professional development day. This provides flexibility within the day, too. One option is to create 6-8 choices for staff learning, such as videos to watch or articles to read around areas of focus for the school year. Then establish a method of accountability through reflection and application questions. You could also bring the staff back together to discuss their learning. 

    MTSS profesional learning choice board-min  

    Professional Learning Choice Board

    #4: Utilize Micro-Learning

    Micro-learning can allow leaders to disseminate learning throughout the year without overwhelming their staff.  

    “Microlearning is a type of short, focused learning that can usually be completed in just a few minutes. “ (Naji 2022) Examples of this include Duolingo daily lessons or Merriam Websters' word of the day. A way to apply this could be to send out a daily or weekly learning tip or skill for teachers to learn a little bit about. You could try something like:

    • Instructional Strategy of the Week
    • MTSS Term of the Day
    • Tech Tip Tuesday 

    A great option to involve your aspiring leaders is to choose a staff member to curate a list of PD resources to share with the staff each day or week. This is a prime opportunity to utilize the expertise of your staff!  

    micro-learning tips mtss-min  

    Tier 1 Behavior Micro-Learning Tips 

    #5: Sharpen Your Coaching Approach

    Adults need different levels of support to implement new skills effectively.  Just as a coach is there to motivate, direct, and encourage, school leaders can do the same. Some staff members might need someone to listen as they process and figure things out independently, some might need modeling and practice, some want advice or input, and some might just need someone to cheer them on. When taking a coaching approach, building relationships and trust is essential.

    mtss coaching toolkit_branching minds  

    The MTSS Coaching Toolkit 

    #6: Create a Learning Culture

    Great leaders are listeners and question-askers. They are also question-answerers when it comes to professional learning! Adult learners will want to know the purpose of learning, and this is an excellent opportunity to be clear about your goals as well as to listen, ask follow-up questions, and establish a trusting relationship. It is about digging into why, not shutting down the doubters or the tough conversations around change.  

    On-Demand Webinar: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

    Fostering a learning culture through active listening and open dialogue will contribute to a successful and effective professional learning environment for the entire staff.

    Additional Professional Learning Resources from Branching Minds:


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    Naji, Cassandra. 2022. “8 (Tiny) Examples of Microlearning · Eduflow blog.” Eduflow. https://www.eduflow.com/blog/microlearning-examples.

    Schutz, Lauren. 2022. “How to Plan MTSS Professional Learning Throughout the Year.” Branching Minds. https://www.branchingminds.com/blog/how-to-plan-mtss-professional-learning-throughout-the-year



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