The RTI Analogy

The Doctor will see you now.

Episode 2 – Teachers’ Snacks Series. In case you don’t know, I’m offering up our hungry New Mexico teachers some nutritious brain food in the form of small bite-sized PD. See yesterday’s morsels on Positive Behavior Supports. Let’s dive into some RTI today!

Response to Intervention: RTI. If a student is struggling academically (and/or behaviorally), you may be provided a SAT (Student Assistance Team) packet by your building principal or SAT chairperson. The first question you will have to answer, as you wade into the large amount of paperwork from a SAT packet, is: “What interventions have you tried, and what were the results?’

So, let’s think about RTI as a triage effort in a doctor’s office. You are the medical professional seeing a patient for the first time. From the outside, he seems fine. So, you start your examination by asking questions, taking baseline measurements like temperature and blood pressure, and comparing results to those of a “healthy patient.” All of a sudden, you notice an indicator of high blood pressure. Do you immediately send the patient to the operating room for an open heart surgery? No, of course not. You ask other questions and dig deeper as to why there might be an issue with high blood pressure. You might prescribe the patient a blood pressure medicine and then see how he RESPONDS to it before taking more drastic and expensive measures.

There’s your analogy. When you first notice a student is struggling, you want to start your RTI process by “prescribing” a minimally intrusive strategy and continue to monitor results before moving that child into the more drastic and expensive process of a special education referral. You may find that the strategy doesn’t work after a period of no less than 2 weeks, and you might think of a different way to help the student. Rinse and repeat. Be sure your strategies are viable and proven. All along, you will be “charting” or documenting the results of your efforts with dates and outcomes. If in fact, after at least 4 weeks of more than one intervention, you cannot seem to “stabilize” your student, you then will move into your SAT referral process where you will already have all the documentation you need to move past step one.

If you become frustrated with the SAT process, and when I was a principal, most of my teachers did, you can always soothe yourself by singing a line from Mary Poppins: “A spoonful of sugar, helps the medicine go down..” Good luck getting that catchy tune out of your head today. 🙂

Stay hungry my friends.

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