A thriving Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) requires collaborative work and problem-solving at the schoolwide, classroom/department, and student level. The team meetings where this important work happens can be effective, practical, solution-focused powerhouses of change, or they can be a waste of precious resources—the time and expertise of our colleagues.
This guide and toolkit provide help to make the most of team meetings, with best practices, types of MTSS meetings' guides, an editable agenda template, and resources to help focus your MTSS work and keep meetings on track.
1. Best Practices For Meetings
“Meetings constitute a large part of our work and an essential part of the work of educators as they come together to make decisions that, in most cases, impact students’ life and future. School and district teams need to take as systematic an approach to running team meetings as in the business world.”
- Yosr Najjar, VP of Marketing and Demand Generation at Branching Minds
No matter the context or content, meetings benefit from the following best practices:
The agenda is prepared, and materials are gathered ahead of time
The meeting has a clear purpose and goal
Roles are assigned, such as note-taker, time-keeper, and leader
Participants use active listening and stay on topic
Follow-up tasks and responsibilities are clarified
Notes and resources are shared after the meeting
2. Meeting Norms for Participants
Before the meeting:
During the meeting:
After the meeting:
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3. Types of MTSS Meetings
There are three types of meetings that help drive effective MTSS: a school-level meeting for school leadership to look at core curriculum health, benchmark growth, tier movement, distribution of resources and evolution of structures, the grade team or content team community meeting, to create group plans for students who need Tier 2 level support, and to check in on progress for all kids who need support, and an individual student support meeting to create individuated plans for students who need Tier 3 level support.
The MTSS School-Level Meeting
This meeting is conducted by the school leadership team following the collection of universal screener data, three times a year. The goal of the school-level meeting is for the school leadership team to look at core curriculum health, benchmark growth, tier movement, distribution of resources, and evolution of structures, to understand the health of MTSS practice and problem-solve for system-level improvement.
The MTSS Grade/Content Team Meeting
This meeting is conducted by each grade or content team on a monthly basis to discuss all students with Tier 2 and 3 level needs, and to check in on progress, revise plans, and create new Tier 2 level plans.
The goal of this meeting is to:
Ensure students who need additional support are receiving it and making progress;
Identify patterns/trends in student growth; and to,
Adjust plans and support based on observed trends.
The Individual Student Support Meeting
The goal of this meeting is to dive deeper into problem-solving for students not making sufficient progress, and to create/revise intervention plans. Individual student support meetings take place to create individualized plans for students who need Tier 3 level of support.
TOOLKIT RESOURCE #1:
Conversation Starters to Engage Participants
In times of change and transition within a system, remaining curious about where others stand and why is an essential part of leadership. Use this tool to understand others' “why” with open-ended questions.
TOOLKIT RESOURCE #2:
Phrases to Help Your Team Stay on Task
Keeping meetings on track is one of the hardest parts of collaborative practice. Educators' time is precious. Facilitators can help steer a meeting in the right direction in a positive way with intentional re-direction.
TOOLKIT RESOURCE #3:
Using Data: Questions for MTSS Data Analysis Worksheet
Every MTSS meeting, whether school-wide, department, or student-focused, should be driven by data analysis and problem-solving. Diving into the data can be a challenge for any team. Here is a simple format for data discussion to help get your team started.
TOOLKIT RESOURCE #4:
MTSS Meeting Agenda Template and Tips
A standardized note-taking process prevents loss of information, keeps everyone accountable for previous decisions and assignments, and can help streamline communication between teams. Here are a few tips:
Copy and paste an agenda template to the top of a running document instead of creating a separate document for each meeting.
Create a shared folder between team members to keep documents and resources related to the team’s work.
Use this editable MTSS Meeting Agenda template and adjust it for each team as needed.
TOOLKIT RESOURCE #5:
Guide for Each Type of MTSS Meeting
As mentioned in section three of this guide, a healthy MTSS system consists of three different types of meetings that have three different functions and formats: (1) the Individual Student Support Meeting, (2) the Grade/Content Team Community Meeting, and (3) the School Leadership Meeting.
Download these quick guides below to help you conduct effective meetings, optimize your use of time, and exit these meetings with clear action plans!
Guide for Each Type of MTSS Meeting
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"How Can We Make Our RTI/MTSS Meetings Work Better?”
It’s one of the most common questions district leadership teams ask Branching Minds. Our answer is to make sure your problem-solving team can easily and collaboratively:
Understand why the student is struggling
Select the right evidence-based intervention
Follow best practices when creating the support plan
Branching Minds Helps Teachers Understand Student Support Needs Holistically:
When students don’t make adequate progress at the Tier 2 level of support, teachers need to take a broader aperture to understand the student’s learning needs. Teachers need to be able to see the student’s strengths and challenges more holistically—inclusive of not just their academic skills, but also their cognitive, social-emotional, and behavioral skills that are also required to be successful in reading, writing, mathematics, etc. If the Student Support Team is coming together to discuss students’ needs in-depth, BRM suggests collecting these data through the BRM Insight Survey ahead of that meeting.
The Insight Survey reviews the student’s academic, cognitive, social-emotional, and behavioral skills that are scientifically predictive of success in that topic area by asking educators a series of questions based on the student’s observable behaviors in the classroom. The questions are differentiated based on the topic area, the student’s grade performance level, and ELL proficiency.
The Insight Survey results:
Branching Minds improves the efficiency of problem-solving meetings.
WestEd Study Summary
During the 2017-18 school year, WestEd, a highly-respected, independent research organization, completed an evaluation of Branching Minds’ impact on MTSS meetings across all district partners. They reported that using Branching Minds to support MTSS improved the efficiency of problem-solving meetings by decreasing the time teachers spend preparing and by better focusing the conversation. They also report that Branching Minds improved the quality of intervention meetings by helping teachers use data to drive the discussion and promote a positive, problem-solving climate during the meeting.