What is MTSS? Part 3

What is MTSS? Part 1

What is MTSS? Part 2

This is the time to revisit the inventory taken at the beginning of the adoption process and consider building a resource library. You may find that current instructional methods require only slight modifications to be considered tier 1 and tier 2 practices.

Below are some instructional methods suggested by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning CASEL.org. It is likely that many teachers already use similar strategies; making these a comfortable entry point where people can gain traction and buy into your MTSS roll-out.

  • Co-construct classroom community agreements for behavior, how to treat one another.
  • Design learning activities that empower students to explore issues that are important to them and co-create solutions to improve the classroom, school, or community.
  • Make connections between SEL and academic instruction; initiate reflection and discussion.
  • Guide students through the process of setting goals, encourage and commend academic risk-taking and incremental progress.  Frame productive struggle as part of the learning process; coach students on how to correct mistakes and recover from setbacks.
  • Balance class time with periods of direct instruction, student cooperative work, and time to work/reflect alone.
  • Elicit student thinking by asking open-ended questions and encouraging students to elaborate on their response.
  • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on cooperative group work and what made that work successful and/or challenging and plan for improvement.
  • Affirm students’ diverse identities and cultures through activities and interactions. 
  • Provide space for students to share and learn about each other’s lives and backgrounds.

These strategies can be easily included in meaningful ways with minimal disruption to existing classroom routines or additional prep time. Consider asking faculty to share examples of what these look like in their classrooms. Your MTSS resource library now contains relevant, peer-reviewed practices!

Integrating activities that focus on academic content AND behavioral/social-emotional instruction at the same time elevates the importance of non-academic performance. Viewing traditional academic instruction through behavioral and social-emotional lenses helps to incorporate them into current routines. Check-in / check-out, think-pair-share, reflection prompts, and goal-setting are examples of tier 1 instructional methods for academics. To add a behavioral/SEL component, consider prompts that elicit student dispositions such as resilience, independence, creativity, and self-motivation.  

Some successful examples from my classroom are visible thinking and retrieval practice activities listed here.

What Works Clearinghouse has a wide variety of evidence-based programs and strategies to explore. The resources can be sorted by grade level and content area.

According to CASEL.org, the most effective behavioral and SEL instruction is SAFE (sequenced, active, focused, and explicit). Their guide will help when you are ready to select an SEL program that will work for your school community. Aside from adopting a full SEL program, purposefully choosing activities from research-based organizations such as FacingHistory.org, Along.org, Everfi.com, and CharacterLab.org can be a way to build behavioral and SEL routines that provide common, informal assessment data. 

Next, align instructional tools with CASEL competencies and use proficiency scales to document student progress and to monitor the need for movement between tiers. Balance formal and informal assessments with observed behaviors to identify patterns. Faulty and staff who interact with students on a daily basis are indispensable in the monitoring of behavior trends and changes.

Hidden curriculum, how educators model and respond to behavior, accounts for as much as 90% of students’ learning experience according to Frontiers In Education April 2022. The way that adults interact with one another and with students makes impressions and has a long-lasting impact on relationships and learning outcomes. (I wrote about a similar idea in this blog).

Lesson examples:

  • https://schoolsocialwork.net/curriculum-for-teaching-emotional-self-regulation/

Additional Resources:

  • https://www.childrensmentalhealthmatters.org/files/2019/11/Classroom_Activities_Handout.pdf
  • https://canwetalk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/COOR-79l-2016-03-CWT-lesson-plans.pdf

bonnie nieves

Bonnie Nieves is the author of “Be Awesome on Purpose” and has over a decade of experience as a high school science teacher. She has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Educational Leadership. Her passion for creating immersive and authentic experiences that fuel curiosity and creating student-centered, culturally responsive learning spaces that promote equity and inclusion has led her to establish Educate On Purpose Coaching.

In addition to being an award-winning educator, Bonnie works to ensure equitable and engaging education for all through her work as a copy editor at EdReports and Classroom Materials and Media reviewer for The American Biology Teacher journal. She serves on the MassCUE board of directors and enjoys connecting with educators through social media, professional organizations, conferences, Twitter chats, and edcamps. Bonnie is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, and the National Science Teaching Association. She encourages you to connect with her on Twitter @biologygoddess, Instagram @beawesomeonpurpose, Clubhouse @biologygoddess, and LinkedIn.

Please visit www.educateonpurpose.com for information about her current projects.