Monday, January 17, 2011

Are we teachers?

Today during our professional development sessions we introduced a new project that our Supervisor of Special Education, Director of Curriculum & Instruction and I have been working on called "The Pyramid of Intervention" The pyramid is an interactive resource for all teachers K-12. It provides faculty with resources, instructional strategies and interventions that can be used to assist students in your classroom. It is designed to be the first steps before the I&RS process.

The pyramid is divided into 3 tiers. Tier one contains strategies and resources that can be used for all students in your classroom. As you move up the tiers you are narrowing your focus to those students who are "outliers" in your classroom. These are the students who are not responding to your varied modes of instruction. They require more targeted resources. Our tier 2 provides a large inventory of targeted strategies for these students. Each tier of the pyramid has a corresponding form.  The form is used to track your progress with each student that you move through the pyramid. It is a great tool for documenting what steps you have taken to assist those students.  The last step of the  pyramid is a referral for I&RS.

It is our hope that by requiring the implementation of the pyramid before the I&RS process we will be able reduce the number of I&RS referrals. We strive to be able to provide teachers with a very intuitive resource to go to in order to find the strategies and interventions that are necessary for their students. By documenting these steps in the forms, our faculty will be able to go to an I&RS meeting with documentation of what was tried, what worked and what has not worked.

I am very excited to provide this powerful resource to our faculty. Now that the presentations are over I have had time to reflect on what we have done.  I am reflecting on my own classroom experiences as a middle school and elementary school teacher. I only wish I had access to such a resource then. Working on the pyramid of intervention has focused my thoughts on instruction and differentiation. How important is it to treat every student and an individualized learner? How can we address the various levels, interests, and learning styles in our classrooms?

I ask the question, "Are we teachers?"  I say no. Teachers are individuals who Teach. The traditional definition is someone who teaches or instructs.  The model of, " I teach and you as a student choose to learn or not", does not properly represent what we are charged to do at the K-12 level. It more fully defines a college educator.  In a college students pay tuition. Professors teach content and it is up the the college student to decide if they will learn and apply what they have learned. It is not the responsibility of the  professor to ensure that all students are learning.  It is an entirely different story in K-12 education. I think a good name for us is "Student Learning Consultant". As I see it, our job is not to teach. Our job is to ensure that students learn. If a student is not learning it is our responsibility to identify the reason why and provide the interventions necessary to change the behavior.

Our pyramid of intervention, Universal Design for Learning tools, online pd courses and blogs that were introduced today are tools to  assist us in our challenge to ensure student learning. I look forward to helping you vet these resources.


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