Welcome to our first of three blogs in our School Meeting Series! Here we will dig into the in’s and out’s of SST meetings so that you, as caregivers or as teachers, are able to maximize your time together throughout.
What is a SST meeting anyway?
SST is an acronym for Student Study Team. The initial SST meeting is typically the first time you have met to discuss a particular concern outside of a parent-teacher conference. Sometimes SST meetings are held in place of a conference because the teacher would like to involve the whole team in the discussion which could run longer than the average time allotted for a caregiver teacher conference. Someone takes notes throughout the meeting so that everyone has endless access to the discussion points.
What is the format of SST meetings?
SST meetings usually last 30-45 minutes (sometimes longer) and include a learner’s caregivers, teachers, and at least one school representative such as the Counselor, Learning Specialist, Program Director, and/or administrator. If your child has received any specialized services in or out of the school environment, other providers are welcomed to attend as well. The SST facilitator starts by collecting or recapping any relevant background information, then moves into strengths and areas that are going well this school year. After each team member has the chance to share, then the facilitator will move into opportunities for growth or challenges the learner is presently facing. After the discussion, the team will provide an overview as to the action plan which includes potential accommodations, modifications, layers of support, and the like. At the conclusion of the meeting, the facilitator will determine the next point of communication whether it be a follow-up SST meeting, the upcoming caregiver-teacher conference, or something of the sort. If a follow-up SST meeting is needed, they are generally held six to eight weeks after the first meeting to allow enough time for the team to gauge how the learner is responding to the documented plan of action.
Is an SST meeting cause for concern?
An SST meeting is usually not a reason to feel anxious or worried, but we are all human! This is especially true for the first meeting, although I realize it is hard to avoid feelings of angst when entering a team meeting about an area in which your learner is struggling. SST meetings are intended to remain positive and dynamic. Envision them like Think Tanks for your learner to access their full potential with the assistance of their support village!
What if the SST goals are not met?
If the suggestions/ideas do not work well for your learner, then I strongly suggest welcoming a follow-up meeting to further explore reasons as to why your learner might not feel successful or confident within particular areas. Some schools are limited by what they can offer internally, so your learner might require external support to meet the aforementioned goals, which is ok. We all have skills that are in need of development, so why not seek outside support somehow, someway? It is better that you model a growth mindset and positive outlook when your learner starts the path towards independence.
In Conclusion…If you have been asked to attend an SST meeting it simply means the teacher has noticed your learner struggling in a specific area. The educator and their team want to see your child succeed. An SST meeting is an excellent opportunity to create a positive communication link between caregivers and the school, so try to attend the meeting with a good outlook. The school wants to help. Be willing to listen to their ideas and be honest with your own concerns. When working together, clear answers, help for your learner, and a more joyful learning experience will surely follow. For more information on SST meetings, check out one of our favorite resources – understood.org.