Exploring Response to Intervention – Guest Post by Mandi Shutt

As we look toward the realization that changes are occurring, we can fight them or welcome them. It is important to note that we can’t improve what we do if we continue to do everything the same way.

Response to Intervention (RtI) is a systemic approach toward learning that attempts to ensure that all students learn, even if they intentionally choose not to do so.

As a teacher, it was a relief that proponents of RtI realize one important fundamental assumption:

There is no way a single teacher has all the time, all the knowledge, and all the skills to meet the needs of every child.

The RtI approach is collaborative, and places the responsibility of a student’s success, on the student and the entire staff, not just the student’s teacher. “Creating a collaborative culture is the single most important factor for successful school improvement initiatives, and the first order of business for those seeking to enhance the effectiveness of their schools.”

We already have many of the aspects of RtI here at Athena imbedded in what we already do. At its core, RtI is about what we already do in our classroom to help students succeed. It is about the PLC Team work that we are already doing. It is about the supports and interventions, such as AIS, Nova Net and Advisement help that we already offer as support students who need it. “An intervention is anything a school does, above and beyond what all students receive, that helps a child succeed in school.”

So now what? What are our next steps? What else is part of the systemic approach that is RtI?

  • Curriculum – There must be a strong, viable curriculum.
  • Schedule – The master schedule must accommodate time during the day for all levels of intervention.
  • PLC Teams – Teams need to be focused on three Big Ideas: 1. Focus on learning 2. Collaborative culture 3. Focus on results
  • Prioritized Standards – Learning is targeted and based on essential standards that all students should learn at high levels. (This is where differentiated instruction, our writing framework, and current PLC Team work fits in. This is what we as teachers, are already doing in our classrooms.)
  • Intervention – must also be targeted and based on the essential standards which the student did not learn. Students are identified for interventions based on the cause of their struggles, not by the symptoms.
  • Assessments – Common assessments should be used to determine if students have grasped the essential standards, or which standards a student needs intervention for.

Whatever we do, buck shot approach to re-teaching and reviewing is not an effective intervention. We may possibly hit one or two students but this approach doesn’t meet the needs of all learners.

Lastly, the desire to improve what we do in order to help every student succeed, is something that we need to feel compelled to do. It cannot be something we only do for compliance.

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