Continuum of Supports
What is a true continuum of support?
We have probably all heard of “the tiers”. Perhaps you’ve even heard them in reference to students such as “Oh, he or she is a tier 3 kid.” Well, I am here to realign our vision about what the tiers could be and to “set the record straight” so to speak about their intent.
There are no such thing as tier 3 kids. Just tier 3 supports.
Let me show you what I mean with a personal story. I have decided to learn to ski. I’ve always wanted to learn and just haven’t had the opportunity. Now that we live next to several ski resorts, I decided to give it a try.
I’ll never forget the first time I put a set of skis on. I didn’t even know how to stand let alone ski forward. I was ready to give in, like, 5 minutes later and go get a cup of hot chocolate in the lodge. My dear husband however would not let me give up.
Pretty soon, I was able to move slightly forward instead of backward. Then I was able to ski down the bunny hill. I looked down with fright my first time on the first easy level chair lift. Now I can safely ski down a blue run! Throughout this process, I never introduced myself as “Stephanie, the Tier 3 woman”, however I’d be the first to tell you I could use those extra supports when it came to skiing. Now, if we were talking about my cooking ability with a homemade lasagna, it would be a different story. I’ve honed that skill.
So often we label students unintentionally (and perhaps even ourselves) with negative labels.
I want you to start thinking about skills differently. What are you already good at doing? How do we grow that?
We have to think about what we are good at. I am good at wanting to try new things. I used that to my advantage to pick up a fun wintertime sport I could engage in with my family.
What are students good at? Perhaps they come to you knowing a completely different language other than English. How cool is that? Have you ever thought about it that way?
My son was in a dual language program and he was learning 100% in Spanish his kindergarten year. He was behind in reading according to the standardized assessment, however, I wasn’t worried. I was elated! The reason being was that he was learning a second language! He had reading scores that were not to grade level however he knew Spanish!
This is how we need to start looking at our students who speak a different language. It takes time to learn a language (research says something like 6-8 years). How exciting that they are now learning two!
MTSS is about a spectrum of supports that meet the needs of the whole student (academic, social-emotional, behavior) and celebrates and grows upon their strengths. Be sure to check out next week’s blog series where we will unpack the three tiers.