What is MTSS and what does it look like at Meadowood?
Schools in the Red Clay School District have adopted an organizational framework called the Multi-Tiered System of Support, or MTSS, that is used to teach students behavior expectations, build positive relationships, and develop self-discipline. Meadowood’s MTSS Team is diverse and consists of behavior analysts, school psychologists, a school social worker, specialists, teachers, and administrators; as well as students and parents. Together, they work on finding the best ways to promote positive, consistent learning environments, teach appropriate social expectations, and prevent problematic behaviors.
The triangle represents the framework that is used for MTSS, which is a full continuum of support for students. It is based on each individual student’s needs. Typically, the MTSS framework includes both academic and behavior; however, students in the Meadowood Program already receive individualized educational plans. Therefore, we focus on behavior at Meadowood.
The green base of the triangle represents Tier 1, which is universal and provides supports for every student.
The middle yellow section of the triangle represents Tier 2 in which students receive additional targeted supports with Instructional Support Plans, or ISPs.
The red top portion of the triangle represents Tier 3, which are intensive supports for students in the form of Behavior Support Plans, or BSPs.
Regardless of which tier the student is currently in, practices are proactive, and data-driven to determine if interventions are effective or not. All the tiers work together to support our students and students can move between tiers depending on the need and intensity throughout the years.
Why teach about behavior?
We can no longer assume that students already know the expectations/rules and appropriate ways to behave or that they will learn appropriate behaviors without consistent practice and modeling.
Behaviors are prerequisites for academics. Students need to be taught “school ready behaviors” such as how to attend to tasks, listen to their teachers, use quiet voices, etc. so our students are ready to learn academic skills.
Procedures and routines create structure and consistency, which aids in reducing students’ anxiety and makes them ready to learn.
Repetition is the key to learning new skills. *For youth to unlearn an old behavior and replace it with a new behavior, the new behavior must be repeated with fidelity an average of 28 times.
We teach students academics, why not teach them behavior skills!
What is RC Cash???
MTSS is used to teach expected behavior, build positive relationships, and develop self-discipline in students. Praise and rewards are one way to achieving these goals (but are not the most important part of the program). RC Cash, or Red Clay Cash, is just one component of Meadowood’s MTSS plan that is used universally across each site. It is applied to a wide range of positive behaviors and is delivered in a variety of settings throughout each school building (in the classroom, hallway, cafeteria, and vocational/community settings), which we will learn more about next month. Teaching students appropriate behaviors for different settings helps to create structure for students of expected procedures and routines. In addition, repetition is key in learning new skills and helps prepare students to be ready to learn. MTSS also provides consistency across the entire Meadowood program and classrooms, so that students know what to expect year after year.
When providing reinforcers it is extremely important to ensure that the usage of them has a purpose. Providing reinforcement for a behavior will ensure a connection is made for the individual. When praise is given right after the desired behavior performed, the connection made is stronger. For example, RC Cash is used to help reinforce the expected behaviors consistent with the behavior matrix of each school. Students receive $1, $5, $10, or $20 bills depending on the grade level. This system not only reinforces behavior expectations, but also assists students with money identification and teaches math and life skills. Students can receive RC cash for social-emotional skills as well. This might be for a positive behavior that is seen that relates to showing empathy, caring for others or having responsibility. For example, this could be when a student holds a door for a peer or checks to see if they are okay. Students are provided wallets to store their cash, also teaching them responsibility.
At least once a day, students are then provided an opportunity to “cash out” using the RC Cash that they have earned by exchanging it for preferred or reinforcing items or activities. Each classroom creates a menu with items and activities and their prices to reference during cashout times.
For example, one such menu might list that the iPad costs $20 to use, snacks are $10, Cars are $10, and puzzles are $5.
When it is time to cash out, students will:
Open their wallet and count their RC Cash.
Figure out what reward they can buy with their cash by checking the price on the reward menu.
Count out the amount of cash that is needed.
Let the teacher know what they are buying.
Give the teacher the money and get the reward!
Reinforcement is much more than just praising good behavior, there are many terrific things that come from it! Reinforcement is such a powerful tool that when you only reinforce positive behaviors, you can actually prevent negative behaviors from occurring as well.
What is a behavior matrix?
Students need to be taught the expectations/rules and the appropriate ways to behave. We cannot assume that our students know how to behave. That’s why it’s important to spend time teaching these behaviors in the beginning of the school year and reteaching after vacation breaks and even after just long weekends. Behaviors are prerequisites for academics, meaning students need to be taught “school ready behaviors” such as how to attend to tasks, listen to their teachers, use quiet voices, etc. so our students are ready to learn academic skills. Secondly, procedures and routines create structure and consistency, which aids in reducing students’ anxiety and makes them ready to learn. Lastly, repetition is key! We all know this! We don’t learn something by hearing or doing it once or twice; we do this repeatedly in order to successfully teach our students.
At Forest Oak, the focus is on nice sitting, nice listening, and nice quiet voice for the classroom setting and nice walking, nice listening, and nice quiet voice for the hallway setting. These behaviors are simple and easy to remember for the elementary years.
Some key features of HB Middle’s behavior matrix include strong positive statements in bold, visuals and explicit statements of how students are expected to behave in the classroom, hallway and cafeteria. Notice these expectations are centered around OBSERVABLE behaviors. The reasoning behind this is so that ALL students can accomplish these expectations regardless of grade level.
McKean’s positively outlined expectations, also known as, ‘We A.R.E. McKean!’, outlines the behaviors: achievement, responsibility and empathy in the vocational/community, school building and in the classroom setting.
MTP’s matrix is a continuation of the We A.R.E. (A-R-E) theme of McKean, with some adaptations that specifically address the environments that are more common to MTP, as well as behavior expectations that apply to MTP, but will also help students transition into their lives after MTP.