I love response to intervention (RtI). I do. I think anything that helps students achieve success is a good thing. I love the idea of teachers working collaboratively to better serve the needs of all students, not just the ones officially in special education.
In theory, RtI is fabulous. As I pursue a certificate in Curriculum Adaptation as part of my master’s program, I am constantly learning new, fabulous ways to keep students in the general education classroom. I am excited to talk to other teachers and share ideas; I am a big adaptation nerd.
But my response to intervention is one of confusion. I’m someone who likes clear outlines. I’ve decided I want a rubric for RtI. I want to know exactly what a great RtI team looks like and what interventions are the most successful. I want to know when I’m supposed to step in and when I’m crossing the line.
I am new to special education; I am still learning the ropes of being a teacher in a self-contained classroom. Just as I’m getting the hang of my district’s curriculum and what’s expected of me, I feel like my job is changing because of RtI.
As I co-teach more and more, I wonder about the parameters of RtI. How much should I offer to help the general education teachers? Do they even want my help? If I see students struggling, do I step in or do I wait for them to be brought to the team? I have so many questions as to what my role is in this program.
I’m also at a loss as to what interventions to try, and when. I work with students in my self-contained classroom who are definitely at the top of the pyramid. As I go to more and more conferences, I keep hearing about interventions that are proven to work with most students in the bottom tiers. Especially with behavioral interventions, I hear, “It works—but not necessarily with that top 5%.” Which make me want to shout, “But I work with that 5%! What works? Help me!”
I also get confused as to what counts as an intervention: Are the basic accommodations I make in my self-contained room considered interventions? Do good interventions come out of a box, or do they come from the creative collaboration of experienced teachers?
In some ways, I feel like RtI should be covered under the Good Samaritan Law. As long as I’m intentionally trying to always do the right thing, I should be okay. I know from my limited experience, however, that trying to do the right thing can sometimes be perceived by others as overstepping boundaries.
I want to share my ideas and I want to learn from other educators. I want to help as many students as I can, not just the five in my classroom. Is it better to have the guidelines spelled out or is it better to be involved and have a say in what the guidelines are?
In the end, I have to remember that RtI is just a different name for what special education has always sought to accomplish: Help as many students as possible get what they need. Even with all my confusion, that’s something I know for sure.