What are some factors that should be addressed when implementing the RTI approach?
Page 15: Classroom Support for Teachers
When teachers first implement a new approach in class, they may feel overwhelmed by the additional or alternative demands. Mr. Irwin understands that he can reduce their stress by providing:
- In-class supports
- Release time
- Encouragement and positive reinforcement
Through professional development and other trainings, teachers learn about the most recent research-validated practices. Teachers are more likely to incorporate these instructional techniques, however, if they receive in-class supports. For instance, schools may provide teachers with in-class supports through modeling, side-by-side teaching, feedback, and assistance.
Modeling involves a teacher’s watching a colleague provide instruction to his or her students to see the process in action and to see the benefits of it firsthand.
Side-by-side teaching involves a teacher’s collaborating with a colleague to practice a new lesson or technique.
Feedback is provided to the teacher about a specific lesson or instructional technique that was observed. Regardless of the observer (e.g., coach, principal, or fellow teacher), feedback should not be critical; instead, it should be constructive, offering helpful suggestions for improving the implementation of the RTI elements.
Assistance may be extremely beneficial for teachers during the administration of the universal screening assessment. For instance, a teacher’s aide or other staff member may supervise a class so that the teacher may assess students. As an alternative, staff trained on the assessment procedures may administer the universal screening while the teacher conducts his or her lesson.
Another way principals can support teachers is to schedule opportunities for them to discuss concerns and exchange ideas about classroom instruction and students’ needs. Decision-making should be a collaborative effort, integrating the knowledge and experience of the team. For example, teachers can meet to discuss students’ assessment data in order to collaboratively interpret these data and to adjust instruction accordingly.
Mr. Irwin thinks it is beneficial for teachers to have time to plan instruction and to meet as a grade-level team weekly or every other week to discuss students’ data. He also believes that some teachers may want to meet individually with the coach or other designated assessment personnel to review their data in more depth or to talk about specific strategies to meet certain students’ needs. Therefore, he has to ensure that the teachers’ schedules include sufficient release time.
Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement
Principals also need to be cognizant of providing teachers with ongoing encouragement and reinforcement throughout the RTI implementation process. Creating a positive school climate and acknowledging teachers’ hard work and success is crucial to maintaining momentum for the long-term commitment of implementing a new approach. Some means for creating a positive school atmosphere include:
- Providing praise and words of encouragement
- Reminding personnel that gains will be gradual and will take time
- Emphasizing that this is a learning process for everyone
- Maintaining a collaborative approach
- Sharing data that demonstrates students’ positive outcomes
- Providing a tangible reward occasionally (e.g., pizza at a staff meeting)