Let’s be honest, RTI scares most teachers. I’m going to share with you a list of RTI Dos and Don’ts that can take a lot of guess work out of your intervention block.
Most counties and states have their own RTI handbooks or procedures books. Make sure to follow those guidelines as you are working with RTI students. First off, RTI is a way to meet the needs of students! It is not a way to get a kid tested for special services or a way to cover yours. The entire RTI process is about the student and how we can meet their needs. Here’s a list of common questions and concerns that I have heard from teachers my first year of being RTI coordinator and my list of RTI Dos and Don’ts.
- Target the right students! Typically I encourage teachers to look at benchmark results and focus on the bottom 20th percentile of their class, grade level or students who scored below the 20th percentile (if your benchmark gives you this information).
- Be consistent! When you choose what intervention is right for the student and for the materials/resources that you have at hand, make sure that you create a schedule and stick to it! If a day or so slips by, make sure to set an alarm for yourself so you don’t forget the next day.
- Be creative! If you are responsible for interventions with your students, that can be difficult to figure out when, who and what. Try to pick a time of the day when you have the fewest students. Remember RTI is in addition to, so don’t take up guided reading time for those students. They need that time as well as part of their Tier 1 instruction. If you only have 1 or 2 RTI students throw a couple of other lower students in the small group as well. You don’t have to document for those students, but having slightly higher students in that group will really help your RTI students with modeling, thinking, and verbalizing the lesson.
- Progress Monitor often! Other than the actual interventions, progress monitoring is the most important thing. Why? How do you know if you interventions are working if you don’t have any data to back it up? I hate walking into a data team meeting and asking about the student and the teacher responding, “Oh, Johnny has really been progressing the last couple of weeks” or “Well I can’t get Bella to show ANY progress. She just isn’t doing a thing!” Then I ask for progress monitoring and there is absolutely no data to look at. If you students are or aren’t showing progress, you need to be able to physically see it! Sometimes you can’t see it, but if you show the graph to another teacher they might be able to see the trend line going up and point it out to you.
- Jump ship in the middle of the ocean! If you pick an intervention and 3 weeks in it just doesn’t seem to be working at all, don’t quit! Give an intervention time before you continue or change. I suggest 6-8 weeks before switching programs or strategies. Most research based programs or strategies suggest anywhere from 6-14 weeks! It isn’t a magical fix! It takes time!
- Punish with Scheduling: Sure recess time or after school might work great for you, but it will be detrimental to your student(s) if you pick your intervention time to be during those times. RTI time needs to be a very positive and encouraging time for you and the students. This is really the most important time of the day for this student so pick a time where they are fresh and ready to work!
- Skip around or pick and choose what to do in a program. Sure the first few weeks of any program can be super boring and difficult to get through, but sometimes those are the most important weeks. Each program has a scope and sequence if it is an approved intervention, you can’t just flip through and find something that looks like fun!
- Be discouraged! These are the very students who need the best you! However, I know from being an intervention teacher that this is the most draining part of the day. They need you the most. I promise these are the very students who can grow the most, but it depends on YOU! Stay positive, focused and data driven with your RTI students and they can become as high or low as your expectations are!
Do you have additional RTI questions? Let’s hear them! Comment below with a question and I will work on a Question and Answers post for the next couple of weeks! Thanks for reading!
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