RTI–those 3 letters that just make you want to pull your hair out sometimes. As elementary teachers, we already prep for so many content areas. Sometimes adding RTI to the plate is just too much. At least this is how I felt at times. Managing RTI was just going to send me to the looney bin some years! My reading intervention time was tricky to handle, but after a few years, I felt like I had a good flow.
Tip #1: Create a System
When RTI first rolled out at our school, it just seemed too hard to manage. There were so many steps and things to do and sometimes I “just knew” that this sweet little baby needed some extra testing. When it came to doing interventions, I needed a system that was simple to follow. At our campus, this is how it worked.
I needed it to make sense to me and I needed a process. I can work with a system! I am prepared when I have a system! I ended up creating interventions for my students who struggled with phonemic awareness that followed this system. If I had identified an area of struggle, set a measurable goal, completed an intervention and saw immediately that the students were “getting it”, then I would skip other intervention activities and simply do the post-assessment. Now, you know your kids best and sometimes they get it, but you know it’s not solid so you have to continue to practice. That’s okay and that’s NEEDED.
Tip #2: Make it Hands-On and Engaging for Students
You want them to look forward to it, not dread it. Often times the students who are in your RTI groups for academics can be a toot from time-to-time because they just don’t want to be there anymore. At one of my schools, we did RTI time during recess. Once a week the child would miss recess to come work with me and while I loved the time, I didn’t like that they had to miss recess. I never wanted it to feel like a punishment so it was my goal to make it fun!! I used a lot of songs and games for the kids! Even the assessments were simple and game-like! They worked in partners and we worked in small groups instead of always one-on-one. We sang songs, played cards games, and did lots of things that were quick and kept their attention
Tip #3: Stay Organized
Sounds easy, right? Not always; especially when you have multiple students, are doing interventions on different skills, and then have deadlines to meet. How on earth are you supposed to keep it all organized?
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Tip #4: Think Outside Your Classroom
Not every school is blessed with an RTI time in their master schedule; I have worked at both. When you are lucky enough to have that time built into your master schedule, then you can team up with other teachers and work to reach ALL learners. Sometimes a struggle is not simply with the learners who need Tier 3 interventions, but those learners who are on Tier 1 or 2. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do with them.
For example, with a team of 4 teachers on your grade level, it could look like this:
- 1 teacher may take Tier 3 kids who need interventions on letter i.d. and sound
- 1 teacher Tier 3 kids who need interventions on deleting phonemes
- 1 teacher Tier 2 kids who need re-teaching on a story retelling
- 1 teacher Tier 1 kids who are ready to move on to enrichment on identifying conflict and resolution
Remember, you have a teaching team so that you can support each other so lean on each other and use each other! You also are all different and have different strengths! Simply put, don’t be afraid to say “No thank you!” to the struggling babies but “Bring ’em on!” to the high achievers.
How do you manage it all and keep it all organized? I would love to hear your tips!