Note: this post is part of a series about Noble’s preparation for the upcoming school year.

At Noble we want all of our students to succeed on the paths of their choice. Sometimes a student might need additional support to make that happen so we implement our MTSS or Multi-Tiered System of Supports process to provide those supports. The system allows teachers and school leaders to keep track of students in need of additional support and interventions and gauge how effective those interventions are at supporting students to be successful in school.

We sat down with Janine Franklin [Director of Student Culture and Support] and Nicholas Jones [Manager of Student Culture and Support] who support Noble’s 18 campuses to improve and maintain their MTSS systems, to learn a little more.

MM: Janine, Nicholas thanks for taking the time at the beginning of school like this. First could you talk about the goals of the MTSS, what is it we’re aiming for?
JF: As you know, we are currently in an unprecedented time and it’s more important than ever to ensure our students have quality and holistic support from Noble. The goal of MTSS at Noble has always been to ensure students have targeted interventions and support that will encourage their academic success at school. Given our new context, it is even more important to ensure we can gauge the social-emotional needs of our students and any potential barriers they have to learning and be able to quickly identify what those needs are and provide the necessary support and resources for it. That is what MTSS at Noble is aiming for. We are pushing ourselves to provide holistic support to students in this remote setting to ensure they can thrive not only academically but socio-emotionally as well.

MM: When we say interventions, what does that exactly mean, could you share some examples?
JF: Interventions are simply a way of saying “I see something isn’t working for you right now so let’s try something different.”

Janine Franklin
Director of Student Culture and Support

Nicholas Jones
Manager of Student Culture and Support

Interventions mean providing targeted support to a student who may be struggling with a particular task or issue. For example, when COVID initially caused school closures, some students were impacted more than others. One of our campuses was able to utilize our culture teams, who typically are present in school for behavioral support, to tutor students one-on-one and ensure they were able to submit assignments on time. Not only did that allow students to stay engaged but it also allowed students to get the support they needed to be successful. Additionally, another campus was able to identify students who needed additional socio-emotional support. This campus structured small groups for these students around “Girl Talk” and “The Last Dance” as a way of engaging students in ways that mattered to them but also gave them space to unpack how they were feeling. Interventions can vary by campus and by student but they are supposed to! Interventions are creative ways we try to support students through the root cause of what they’re struggling with.

MM: Can you think of any particular students, anonymous of course, and talk about their experience with the MTSS?
NJ: Sure, one of our Deans of Culture shared a great story of how she was able to connect and support a student through the MTSS process. Her student was flagged as a Tier 3 student due to the student having 3 F’s and 0 assignments submitted. Due to the positive relationship she had with the student, she volunteered to add the student to her MTSS caseload. Leveraging her positive relationship with the student would be important. The initial outreach was successful. The student engaged. The student spoke with her about how much life had changed due to COVID & the school closure. The student also shared he had to pick up a job to financially support the household. His new reality left him unmotivated to complete schoolwork but was excited to engage in conversations about life. It was nice to have someone from his school community check-in with him. Still, his focus was not on his 3 F’s, it was on working, resting, and staying safe. After two weeks of engaging in conversation about navigating his new reality, the DOC was finally able to engage in conversations about improving his grades. The student was hesitant to re-engage in working on assignments initially. The DOC took the additional step to engage his parents, informing them of his current grades, which led to them working on a plan to improve his grades. They worked the plan; 1 assignment at a time, one class at a time, and set up 1:1 tutoring in the evening to allow the student time to rest, he worked the 3rd shift. As his grades improved, his motivation and effort in completing assignments increased. The student ended the Spring semester passing all of his classes and with an improved overall GPA.

MM: If a parent or family member notices something at home and wants to make sure the school knows and provides support, what should they do?
JF/NJ: All of our campuses have remote learning websites with pertinent contact information, parents and family can reach out to the campus to indicate the need for additional support. Also, a parent can contact their campus’ Dean of Students who will also be able to guide a family through supporting their student and the MTSS referral process.

MM: Now with everything online and remote, how do you think MTSS will adapt and change for the upcoming semester?
JF/NJ: The format may change but our challenge to support students doesn’t. We’ve created an online dashboard that will allow us to gauge how our students are doing, even remotely. We’ve ensured things like engagement, potential barriers, and grades are all things this dashboard will show so we know how to best support our students. Now those student support conversations will happen remotely amongst staff, and students will still receive quality support throughout the academic year.

(editor’s note: see this post about some of the tech innovations that support the MTSS work).

MM: What else should people know about Noble’s MTSS?
JF/NJ: First, that it’s always evolving. Our system looks drastically different than it did 5 or 10 years ago, we’re improving each aspect each year as we have more data about what is effectively supporting students and where we can get better. Second, teachers, advisors, deans, parents, and students all inform that improvement – this is a live tool and it only gets better with the feedback of those who are using it. Lastly, MTSS is just a tool, the real magic of that support happens because of the amazing teachers, culture teams, deans, social workers, and other support staff at our schools. 

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