You always want to have the parents on your side during the RTI process or else the result can be disastrous, whether the student eventually needs further testing or you need to try different interventions. Following these steps, you can be sure to provide the information necessary and encourage the parent to be on your side during this process.
Don’t assume the parent knows what RTI is or process. Always start out each conference reminding them of the levels in the process and requirements/attributes of each level. Visuals are great to have for this! Stay away from using tons of acronyms and use simple parent language and not teacher to teacher language. Absolutely avoid all words such as Special Education, Special Needs, testing, school psychologist, medication, learning disability etc. For a parent who has never heard of RTI, these words will immediately scare them and cause them to become defensive of their child. Who would blame them??? They have known their child their entire life and you only have for a short time period. Keep this in mind!
Make sure to bring in work samples, progress monitoring and other documentation that you have to discuss and show the parents. Discuss the RTI goal or plan and be sure to stay positive when discussing the end results that you anticipate. Also be sure to explain the intervention that you will use and components of the program. Talk about strategies you tried before placing the child in RTI and how it failed to meet their needs.
Ask the parent about things they do at home to learn with their child. What do they see that works well? Find out the family’s learning history. How do the parents learn best? Was their any family history that you should know about? What is the overall attitude of school in the home? This is also a great time for parents to fill out needed paperwork or surveys. Help them through the questions and explain further as needed.
If you say that you are going to get back with the parent in 2 weeks, be sure to follow up in 2 weeks! Always stick to what you promised. If you need to, set a calendar alert on your phone while at the meeting so you won’t forget. Ask the parent to set their alarm as well so that they can remind you if needed. Following up with the parent to show them the progress monitoring whether good or bad will speak volumes to them! They want the best for their child and if you can show ownership, responsibility, and priority in their child, you will earn their trust and support for making difficult decisions.