I feel like I’ve been neglecting you, but as I mentioned in one of my last posts, I’m on the road for several weeks meeting and training new teachers in Phonics First. I get to meet wonderful teachers and I love learning from them and getting to share the program. I put so much into each day’s training that I go back to the hotel exhausted!
Just today I had a discussion with a Special Education coordinator and a class of interventionists that I wanted to share with all of you. We were discussing the importance of having the administration set clear expectations for what the interventionists are responsible for and what data they need to be tracking. Expectations and data keeping look different in every district and often at every school; the important thing is making those expectations and responsibilities clear to all the school staff. Principals, coordinators, coaches, teachers, interventionists, etc. should all know what their responsibilities are and what role they play in the Response to Intervention (RTI) model in the school.
Based on personal experience as an interventionist and working with many other interventionists as an instructor and coach, there is one simple record I recommend all interventionists keep, even if it’s not mandated.
Collect Data on Teaching Time
Keep a calendar of what days you see your students, which students were there and how long you were able to work with them.
It’s one of the easiest records to keep; it doesn’t require any testing, scoring or extra time; yet it’s a record often overlooked with the emphasis on standardized testing and numbers data. Keeping this record is crucial because the amount of time you get to spend actually working with your small group as an interventionist will drastically impact their progress.
When I was an interventionist, many things prevented me from getting to meet with my students like I was scheduled to: students were frequently absent, I was pulled away to fill in other places, the teacher didn’t want the students leaving class, etc. There were many weeks I only saw my students once or twice for 15 minutes, when I was supposed to be working with them for 20 minutes four days a week.
Do you find you’re able to meet with your small groups as often as is on the schedule?
Keep a record of the days you don’t see a student and note of the reason. Add to the record the actual Instructional time you are able to spend with them. If you are scheduled to meet a group for 20 minutes, but 10 of those minutes are spent picking them up and dropping them back off to class, that’s only 10 minutes of true instructional time.
For any intervention to be successful, it needs to be done consistently, frequently and for an appropriate duration of time. You want to keep a record of the time you spend with your students so that a fair assessment of the intervention and your effectiveness can be made. If it doesn’t seem like a student is making progress, especially if you’re using a quality intervention like Phonics First, check that the student is actually receiving quality instructional time with the intervention before making judgments about the intervention or the educator (I’m not just referring to teacher evaluations. I also say that for the educator’s sake because we tend to be hard on ourselves when our students aren’t making the progress we hope for.)
What other kinds of records do you suggest keeping, in addition to data from assessments?
I promise to get back to Multisensory Monday and regularly scheduled posts in September!
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