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My experience with MTSS has been long and varied depending on my school and the personnel available. I have always been a part of the team but was not the coordinator until I switched schools a few years ago. Although it does take up more of my time, I have found ways to turn my coordinator position into a win-win for my school counseling program. Here's how:
1. Use the Data: Remember the post about my 3-5 report card conferences and my Stuey Lewis book club with second graders? Those interventions were all based on MTSS data at the Tier 2 or Tier 3 level. My co-counselor and I are also meeting with first and second grade students on Tier 2 about general academic habits such as homework hygiene and paying attention in an attempt to keep them from moving to Tier 3. At my school, primary students have a developmental report card that is not as conducive to report card conferences. In addition, many of the students I see in individual counseling have come to my attention through Tier 3 MTSS data.
2. Collaborate and Consult with Teachers: My monthly MTSS PLC time is often the only time I get to sit down with an entire grade level at one time. Everyone's schedules are hectic and it is difficult to grab more than 5 minutes with someone as you walk down the hallway to your next lesson, much less an entire grade level. We have set aside one day/month when all grade levels meet during their planning periods to discuss student data, intervention plans, and the MTSS process. These conversations have been the catalyst for a new homework club I am starting with fifth graders (more to come on that in a future post!) and additional attendance interventions for students as teachers express their concerns.
3. Learn About Academic Interventions: Many school counselors were not teachers prior to entering this profession and sometimes we feel like we are at a disadvantage when we can't throw out educational jargon like TRC (Text to Reading Comprehension), ORF (Oral Reading Fluency), and phonemic awareness or talk about bubble maps with ease. MTSS is a great place to learn! I didn't know a lot about Symbaloo's until I was in a MTSS meeting with a reading interventionist and now I use a Symbaloo Webmix for e-books when I do a computer lab lesson with my Kindergarten students. I certainly hadn't heard of the Florida Center for Reading Research prior to being involved in MTSS and now I can talk about reading interventions with any grade level. No school counseling graduate program would have ever taught me that!
The point is, no matter the roles you undertake at your school, you can use them to your advantage in your comprehensive school counseling program.
So think outside the box, keep learning, and Happy Counseling!