Friday, September 10, 2010

Let's talk about RTI shall we?

Ah....labor day weekend....the first full week of September.....the noise and wailing of new Kindergarten kids starting school for the first time and not wanting to leave their parent's side....(can you tell my portable is right next to one of the Kindergarten rooms lol) 

First conversation as soon as I put my foot in the door of the office amidst the chaos of the first day of school for students "um excuse me, when are you going to start seeing my kid for speech"?  sigh....can I breathe and find out which class your kid is in this year first????  ok so I'm maybe not really that sarcastic in real life, but I did find it mildly amusing.  (I mean come on no "hey Ms. S how was your summer?" first before launching into business?)

And now to confuse the massess even more, there is this magical thing called RTI.  I'm sure you know what it stands for right?  No?  Well it's called Response to Intervention.  It's a new way of thinking, teaching, collaboration between special education and general education to make sure we don't wait for kids to fail before assessing for special ed.  So guess what?  you write a letter saying you want your kid tested the first day of school?  I will gladly talk to you about how I can intervene within general education right away without assessment to see if this catapults your kid into averageville without special ed. IEP services.....isn't this great?  so why aren't we all hugging and singing Kumbaya? 

1.  We need to have conversations with everyone including parents so everyone knows what RTI entails

I have found that parents are just about to have heart attacks because they think we aren't going to pay attention to their kids....that is not the case, but communication can't just happen with us staff people, the community should be aware of changes in public schools, teaching, what we are doing to help children if not there will always be a chasm between general ed. and special ed.....with special ed. fixing everything that is wrong with a kids because that's not general ed. problem. 

2.  Staff people need to start singing Kumbaya with each other.....seriously. 

If you've worked at a school site before you know the cliques within the school.  General ed. teachers sit on this side of the room, special ed. teachers/staff sit on the other side....conversation goes something like this.....
Teacher:  hey aren't you the speech teacher
SLP:  yes
Teacher:  I have a kid that can't talk and hits other kids
SLP:  I can come and look and see this kid
Teacher:  I want him (let's be honest it's probably a boy) out of my classroom, he's too disruptive
SLP:  well we can work for modifications and accommadations and strategies...and.....
Teacher:  That's not my job, he needs to go to special ed.  like immediately. 
SLP:  rolls eyes. 

Now I know it's a generalization, but I've worked in several schools and sometimes these are uh real things that happen in the staff lounge. 

3.  The whole school needs to buy in

One grade can't be just doing intense intervention during universal access time (centers, reading groups ) and other grades ignore....

RTI is now gaining attention and some strategies that have been placed in schools have worked to the point that out of 50 kids in general ed. intervention only 5 have gone on to be assessed for special education eligibility. 

So what does this mean.

a) this is good news....we are not taking help away from your child, we are in fact helping your child before they are behind and failing

b) this will identify the difference between slow learners that can actually learn at a decent pace and children with true learning disabilities instead of assessing so many kids and having a sig. number not qualify/have any eligibility. 

c)  it means our schools are changing and so is my job and a general ed. teacher's job. 

Where are you guys in relation to how RTI is happening in your state/district?  is it happening at all?  have you seen a difference? 

I'm lucky, I sing Kumbaya with all my gen. ed. do the rest of the special ed. staff....we are in each other's rooms all the fact this year I have a split personality.....I have my children on IEPs that I see, my general education Kinder and 1st graders (lowest 10% of the class) that I'm running intervention groups (this is NOT special ed.) and we're all very vigilant about who is gaining grounds and who isn't.....I believe it is a much better model than a "wait to fail" model or some deep mystical chasm between general ed people and special ed people.....


Colleen said...

I am moving so you can be at R's school when we head to public school next year.

DannieA said...

Colleen.....she can come hang with me :)

Lorraine Fuller said...

None of my kids are in speech, but our middle school has RTI math and reading classes. My dd is in sixth grade and is in RTI math, because she failed the math TAKs on her first try last year. (passed it on the second so got out of summer school). For sixth grade (I don't kow about any others) RTI classes are during PE. I don't know what happens with kids who need RTI for both reading and Math since the classes are at the same time. For my dd who has orthopedic issues, I am thrilled she doesn't have to do PE, since in the past we have had issues with PE teachers not wanting to make any accomodations and causing her injuries. However, it has occured to me that if I had a hyperactive kid I would be pretty ticked off at them missing PE, since it might be the only active time of thier day. My dd has dance after school so I don't worry about her. They don't get recess anymore unless they skip lunch. DD tells me a lot of boys get ice cream only and go outside to play during lunch. (the ice cream for lunch option is a whole other concern, LOL) I don't know the right answer though.