After reading Response to Intervention: The future for Secondary Schools by Canter, Klotz, and Cowan, (2008) the Athena High School Math Department’s professional learning community (PLC) discussed and reflected on the RtI process and the current reality of our school.
A couple most valuable points (MVPs) were important to the group. First, parent support and involvement is critical. So often parents are not engaged in the learning of their children for different reasons. Parents should be invited to information sessions and included on advisory councils to provide input into the design of the RtI program.
A second MVP is that Athena should build our RtI model in a realistic time line. Often times educators jump into something without addressing specifics. If something sounds good, we try it for a year and abandon it the year after. For the RtI process to have a successful start next year, we need to be talking about specifics as soon as possible. Going forward as Athena High sets up the RtI process, the decision makers must encourage and seek out parent involvement, and begin planning soon. Decision makers must also not rush something that is not ready.
Some members of our PLC are also reading Pyramid Response to Intervention by Buffum, Mattos, and Weber (2009). This book continues to be a great resource to be used in our work on ensuring that all students learn at high levels. This book describes the RtI model, PLCs, and how to respond when kids don’t learn.
At Athena Middle and High School, we support PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). PBIS is a decision making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students.
One of these practices is sending home to parents/guardians Good News cards. Mrs. Lagana believes in positive reinforcement and family involvement in education. She sent home multiple cards praising her math students for good attendance, a good test grade, or an improved behavior.
At Athena High, once a teacher fills out the student name and information, the PBIS team addresses the cards and sends them to the parents/guardians. Thank you Athena community for your help in creating a positive environment for our students.
Mrs. Shoemaker and the Athena community understand the importance of involving parents in the education of their child. It is often said that a student tends to be more successful in school when there is a true collaboration between student, parent, and teacher. One strategy that Mrs. Shoemaker uses is an e-mail list. This is a quick and effective way to communicate with parents. Below is a sample e-mail that she uses to inform parents of a student who has not done his or her part in coming in for extra help:
I wanted to let you know that two weeks ago, your child received a below average grade on a quiz for Discrete Math. The quiz was returned with a message to “see me to go over this”. I gave students one week to arrange to come in to work with me on corrections. My purpose in doing this is to give us an opportunity to explore concepts which were not mastered in this unit. The same content will appear on our unit test. Unfortunately, after a full week, your son/daughter did not come in to do quiz corrections. I wanted to make you aware of this missed opportunity. Please check Infinite Campus for the most recent updates to their grade. Thank you for your support.