Every educator has the Tier 1 Dream: a classroom full of eager learners, each one at grade-level, ready to tackle any new challenge.
But, as you know, the reality of your classroom is often quite different. Your students, and their learner profiles, are very diverse and their needs cannot be met with one "magic" instructional method.
However, with proper Response to Intervention (RTI systems, communication, and strategies, you (and your fellow education peers) can make great strides in providing the reinforcement and intervention needed to help students make positive transitions within the RTI tiers.
Read below the break for five RTI tips and strategies you can use within all aspects of your classroom’s RTI model to meet student learning goals and needs.
1) Partner and collaborate with your colleagues
Response to Intervention requires a top-to-bottom approach, and a lack of overall staff support at the top is a major blocker to RTI success. Simply put, progress and positive gains can become very difficult to achieve if your administrators and fellow staff members do not understand (and get behind) the overall goals of your RTI model.
Begin by meeting with grade-level colleagues to plan collaborative methods designed to meet the learning needs of each and every student within the various tiers. Discuss each staff member’s strengths within the curriculum, and breakdown objectives/lessons so that each individual educator can utilize his or her strengths to best help the overall goal of helping students achieve progress.
Additionally, be sure to identify and assign clear instructional roles within each tier (who will assist tier 3 students during pull-out time, etc.). The goal is to leave no confusion on who is doing what. This clarity will be valuable for both your fellow colleagues and for students who thrive on consistency and reliability.
2) Set and convey specific student learning goals
How can your student make a positive tier transition if he/she does not know what to work toward? Challenge yourself, your fellow RTI staff members, and even the students to sit down and develop specific individual learning goals (within the constructs of your RTI model).
These goals do not necessarily need to be made public to the entire class, i.e. don’t post a picture of an RTI triangle and where students currently fall within the tiers. However, I highly recommend showing students individually where they currently lie, what they need to do to reach their learning goals, and why it is important to meet those goals. Transparency is key in this setting.
3) Differentiate instruction methods
As we discussed in the intro, you already know you have a diverse group of learners in the classroom. To help each student meet the learning goals laid out in the RTI model and strategy, you will need to differentiate instruction methods. Luckily, the constructs of an RTI model help you do just that.
Seek to include tactile, visual, and auditory learning methods and vary the learning environment by asking students to get up, move, collaborate, and construct. Whether your classroom is blended, flipped, or traditional, varying the learning modalities and environment will help you identify the positive instructional methods you need to focus on within each tier (and for each student).
4) Utilize daily formative assessments
Don’t rely on summative assessments to identify student achievement and progress within your RTI model. They are certainly a piece of the "student progress" puzzle, but are often spaced too far apart to paint a full picture of what a student knows. Instead, utilize formative assessments as constant checks for understanding during instruction to help you make better informed curriculum decisions going forward.
So how do you assess students in real-time? That's where a blend of today's educational technology breakthroughs and good old-fashioned student discussion can come in very handy! By adding quick online quizzes, individual or group journal entries, online/digital homework, open discussions, and individual work time to your daily instruction methods, you will gain a better understanding of where a student is and where he/she needs to go next. Combine your own observations and the data reported by the online learning content to create a truly constant learner profile.
But don't keep all of this new knowledge to yourself. Be sure to share and discuss the results of these quick checks for understanding with your fellow RTI staff members (math coaches, special education, etc.) to assist in the development of the student's next best step.
5) Make Time for One-on-One Instruction
A main goal of your RTI model should be to provide educators more time/resources to sit down in a one-on-one setting with students. Doing so enhances your ability (as a teacher) to check for understanding, re-teach concepts and clarify student misunderstandings.
However, it’s important to take this one-on-one instruction advantage seriously and to utilize it when necessary. Be sure to structure individual instruction time so that you or another RTI educator can meet regularly with at-risk students (regardless of tier placement). Developing an individual rapport with a student’s learning needs and goals will go a long way in helping them work toward a positive tier transition.
More Response to Intervention resources from Wowzers
If you found these five tips helpful to your RTI strategies, be sure to check out the rest of the RTI-focused blog posts in the Wowzers Blog!
Watch this quick 35-second video to see how the Wowzers Online Math Teacher Dashboard can help you optimize your classroom's multi-tiered support model.