When I think of new year's resolutions, I often think of teachers. You now have a good handle on the personalities, hot buttons, learning styles and capabilities of your students. The second half of the year will fly by before you know it and you are already back in the middle of it all.
As I was thinking about my own resolutions, I was reminded that the International Reading Association's Response to Intervention Commission has published their Guidelines (and a working draft of guiding principles). These guidelines focus on several important keys for today's teachers and move us from a restrictive, repetitive approach to teaching which relies too heavily on curriculum (to the neglect of other important factors).
The next few blogs this week will address each in turn. I solicit your comments about your experiences, what your school is doing with RTI, and how you'd like to see teaching change (for the better). During your implementation of RTI, what have you learned? There are even books such as Beyond the RTI Pyramid which have study guides to help you work through those answers. After all, our resolutions (at least some of them) should be on behalf of our students and their families.
RTI is first and foremost "a prevention model", according to the Commission.
Are you seeing the form of RTI being implemented in your school or district as "just more work"?
Or, is it resulting in less referrals to special education, extensive intervention and diagnosed learning disabilities?
One of the purposes of RTI is to prevent unnecessary referrals (and perhaps premature ones) to those programs.
What a grand idea! Giving students what they need in order to succeed. Here's hoping that it makes its way from these high ideals down to the everyday classroom. The National What Works Clearinghouse gives some guidelines of their own that can help make sure that happens.
One of the best ways I've seen for doing that is for the entire school staff to be on the same page: literacy coaches/ reading specialists, librarians/media specialists, other staff specialists and classroom teachers, along with administration. You may have heard of a "problem solving model" for RTI. Is that happening where you are? How is it working? What problems have you encountered in getting the end results you want?
Another way schools can insure proper implementation of RTI is to include parent education as part of the solution. There is a great resource to share with parents from NH's Parent Information Center which explains RTI in a family-friendly format. It may be that this helps you understand RTI better too.
When I talk about involving parents, I don't mean lecturing to parents about what they "ought to do". That's counterproductive. Instead I mean a genuine respect for what they can bring to the table in terms of authentic "in the real world" applications to what is being taught in the classroom. After all, what motivation will we give students of any sort to succeed and learn if they do not see any meaning for their lives? That is nowhere more important than in the area of literacy.
Parent involvement as a part of RTI also means giving families information in a format that is friendly to them. For some of you, that will be during parent/teacher conferences, for others through a website posting or email blast. Think about your parent base at your school before you plan how to make them a part of RTI. Your job of evaluating and identifying students, helping them at the various tiers will be easier with the engagement of families.
More later this week - add your comments and stay tuned!