Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Response to Intervention (RTI)

The Response to Intervention (RTI) process is intimidating. We come to teaching because we want to teach. I think this is the first time I've really, really thought about what happens when a learning disability is identified. I can see how it would make a teacher feel intruded upon or questioned as demonstrated in the Mesmer & Mesmer (2008) article. The students are your responsibility, and I see how it could feel like a personal failure, even when it's absolutely not.

Also a little scary is the reality that students struggling with literacy need teachers with the most expertise (Johnston, 2011). As someone just entering the field, this fact leaves me with some tough questions. What if the school at which I end up has limited resources? What if the experts aren't good enough? What if I'm some day a student's best hope??

Another question arose from the Mesmer & Mesmer (2008) piece. The student used as an example responded positively and worked with his teachers. What do you do, though, when your student isn't quite as agreeable? Right now, that seems like a battle on top of a challenge.

Caldwell (2008) eases the panic that begins to rise as I consider these things. She describes assessing students' reading abilities like any other complex skill. I compared this to my own experience in roller derby. I didn't even know how to skate when I started, so I had to learn that first. Then, how to stop. From there came hitting and agility and rules. Now, something that seemed impossible a few years ago is a passion. Hopefully I can gain the same confidence as a teacher.

As evidence, Caldwell (2008) breaks the assessment process into four steps:
1) Identify what to assess.
2) Collect evidence.
3) Analyze the evidence.
4) Make a decision.

Of course, there's more to each of these, but just looking at it from here is a good starting place.

In the end, RTI needs to be like a balanced diet (Mesmer & Mesmer, 2008). Despite the needs of the student, they still need a whole instructional plan.

I think that while some teachers rely heavily on constrained skills and their measurability, I'm drawn to the unconstrained (Stahl, 2011). I want to push students to the limits that aren't really there. Of course, instruction in any classroom should span the spectrum (and literacy and RTI do), but I think the open-endedness you find after students master constrained skills like writing their names and high-frequency words is what draws me toward the intermediate grades. It's just more fun!

Caldwell, J. S. (2008). Reading assessment: A primer for teachers and coaches (2nd Ed). New York City, NY: Guilford.
Johnston, P. (2011). An instructional frame for RTI. The reading teacher, 63(7), 602-604.
Mesmer, E. M., & Mesmer, H. A. E. (2008). Response to intervention (RTI): What teachers of reading need to know. The reading teacher, 62(4), 280-290.
Stahl, K. A. D. (2011). Applying new visions of reading development in today's classrooms. The reading teacher, 65(1), 52-56.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post -- love your connection to roller derby (and that you participate in roller derby--too cool)! You ask great questions -- once in the classroom do not be afraid to seek out resources. Trust me, everyone in the building would rather you ask a lot of questions than not know what to do with the kids in your classroom.