Six Tips for Solution-Oriented SST Meetings

October 28, 2021

When you think about SST meetings what’s your first thought? Dread? Indifference? Determination? We know the purpose of SST meetings is to ensure students are getting the support they need. But, that can get lost in the burden of documentation. The ultimate goal for these meetings is to get students to graduate out of the intervention process, or provide them with specialized support. So, how can we make SST meetings impactful and stay positive- all while keeping the end goal in mind? It boils down to really good data, staying motivated, and celebrating! 

When looking at the impact of SST meetings, there’s undeniable evidence that they can work. Successful solution-oriented SST meetings have impactful outcomes, including: 

  • Increased engagement
  • Academic achievement
  • Improved student social competency
  • Ownership and responsibility
  • Improved school climate and collaborative culture  

If you’re trying to determine why your SST meetings aren’t having the desired results ask yourself: 

  1. How often are students growing out of the tier process with your current procedures? 
  2. Is there clear guidance about the resources and documentation needed for an effective meeting? 
  3. Is there a culture of positivity and celebration throughout the process? 

If you answered no to any of these, you’re not alone! Let’s look at six ways you can make fundamental changes to turn your SST meetings around! This model leverages technology and a think tank mindset, prioritizing student success. 

  1. Identify a Student’s Specific Need
    Take the time to identify one area of concern for a student. This isn’t just saying a student is struggling but requires specificity. What is he or she struggling with? Generally, this is the biggest learning gap and where assessment data plays a huge role! Your assessment data should identify students' readiness level, and quickly share their biggest skill needs. Add additional data points to hone in on the areas of concern. 

    Progress Monitoring is an asset here. Choose a progress monitoring resource that is automatic and provides rate of improvement graphing for you. Even better, choose one that also automatically informs students’ interventions, taking the guesswork out for teachers. 

    Utilize a program that provides data that is actionable. Ideally, the program reports out comparable and action-oriented data such as easy recommendations for tier placement and intervention instruction based on individual needs.  

    Classworks Progress Monitoring provides multiple ways to monitor students’ interventions and areas for intervention documentation, as well as automatically graphing rate of improvement. It also gives you specific information about which skills students are struggling with, down to the questions they got right and wrong. The more specific the data, the more accurate the intervention support can be. 

  1. Bring Recent Data Points to the Table
    Students are not stagnant! Each day, each class period, students grow academically and behaviorally. Take this into consideration when planning for SST meetings. Showing up with old data isn’t revealing the true picture of where the student is now, and shows a closed mindset. Instead of discussing a students' spring or even beginning of the year test data after the initial SST meeting, work with the most recent data you have to make the best instructional decisions. 

    This is an area where instructional technology really shines! Work with one program that makes it easy to administer weekly progress monitoring probes to stay on top of what’s working with a student’s intervention. This eliminates the burden of synthesizing handwritten scores. They can also provide you with easy-to-read data visualizations that will make it easier to decide on next steps. When you’re coming to meetings with accurate data you can make swift, accurate, and impactful changes to students' intervention plans. 

    Multiple data points are crucial to the RTI/MTSS process. Remember, you want to understand the needs of the whole child, not just the academic needs. Bring relevant background information and behavioral data to your meetings. It’s vital that this information does not create judgement on character attributes of the child, but rather provides an objective understanding of impact. For example, instead of assuming the student is careless because they regularly forget homework, try to get to the root of the why. Parents may have relevant information to give you a bigger picture of the student and how a behavioral intervention plan can support them. 

    Social-emotional and behavioral tools can help support these efforts easily. For example, digital PBIS and goal trackers help you keep a pulse on behavioral and academic intervention progress. SEL competency surveys help gauge students' comfortability specific SEL competencies and can help inform which supports the student needs.
    P.S. Classworks SEL Competency Survey is coming soon 🎉

  1. Understand Your Intervention Process Clearly 
    First, consider the intervention then consider the modifications and accommodations. You should be able to answer these questions about each student’s plan:

    - What instruction is the student working on to improve their biggest area of need? 
    - How is that information being presented? For example, are they working on computers three days a week and small groups two days per week? 
    - How much time will they spend on their intervention each day, week? 

    It can’t be stressed enough that intervention needs to be a controlled environment. They should have a specific and consistent plan that includes the what, when, where and how long! For example, a student may be working on their Classworks Individualized Learning Paths in Ms. Ayers classroom during the school’s morning Tiger Time for 20 minutes. When you have a consistent and controlled environment, if the student isn’t making progress, the team can modify or accommodate one controlled variable at a time to see if that does the trick. This doesn’t mean changing the content of the skill. However, do adjust things like learning style, seating, location, and time of day (see a thorough list of  NCII Practice Categories).  This is an opportunity to get creative and use all your school’s resources.

    Document the specific strategies you’ve implemented and what is and isn’t working.  The more concrete the data, the easier it is for the team to find a solution. Plus, you’ll feel even more prepared when it’s time for the student’s meeting.

  1. Matching the Right Interventionist to the Specific Need
    Not all teachers are pros at every facet of teaching. That’s okay! There’s no need to stress a teacher out or make it more challenging for a student if it’s just not the right fit. Match the strengths of the teacher with the students' specific needs. Phonics is a skill at which most lower elementary teachers shine. Instead of a student working with their fifth grade math teacher, have them work with a first grade teacher in the library. That’s a win-win; the teacher is confident in her ability to support the student and the student feels comfortable in the library versus the first grade hallway. 

  1. Be Open and Honest Putting Students' Needs First
    Data can be intimidating and sometimes it puts teachers on the defense. Remember that SST meetings are here to help the student be successful. They’re an opportunity to re-evaluate, reflect, and be honest with what is working and what’s not. If interventions need to be adjusted don’t take it personally! A growth mindset is as important for us as educators as it is for our students! Sometimes, you will walk away from a meeting with a new plan of action. Take it in stride and be determined to give the new plan your best shot! Contribute to a positive culture, it’s contagious!

    New processes can be unnerving. Speak up if you’re feeling unsure about the new intervention plan. Maybe it is too much on your plate and you need support, or perhaps you need a little more professional development to feel better equipped to support an accommodation or intervention plan. This is a team effort and the plan will be most successful when everyone’s on the same page.

  1. Celebrating!
    Celebrate all the wins, no matter how big or small! Celebrate everyone’s wins whether it’s a student, a teacher, or a parent! This process is difficult but worth it and celebrating successes motivates the whole team. Commend teachers and students who are taking important steps towards achieving academic and behavioral goals. Reward teachers who take risks, problem-solve, and think outside the box when trying to help their students. How about highlighting a teacher who shares data with the student support team ahead of the game. With Zoom and other web conferencing tools, hopping on to motivate the team and celebrate success is even easier and should be happening more frequently. 

    Often, parents and students hear the negatives first and that can be deflating. Consider shifting how your meetings start. You might have heard of the phrase “glows and grows.” Talk about strengths before discussing room improvements. Begin each meeting with the positives about the child and their progress. Make a conscious effort to keep the meetings upbeat and positive, showing enthusiasm about the child and the plan to support them. 

The framework of a student support team has steadily grown as an effective tool, and it’s picking up momentum. However, it’s never been easier than now. Using technology to streamline and simplify your process can reduce the added burden of paperwork and uncertainty, giving you more time to spend on finding solutions that will have a positive impact on your students. Strong instructional support and the power of positivity can make drastic changes for your students and your school culture.

Additional Resource: 5 Ways Classworks Simplifies Your SST Process

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