How Professional Learning Commun

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					How Professional
Learning Communities
Respond When
Kids Don’t Learn
Title I School Improvement Workshop
June 17 & 18, 2009

Gail Varney
Title I School Improvement Coordinator
The most promising
and research-supported
way to implement
Response to Intervention
is to operate as a professional
learning community.
   The Inescapable Question
            of a PLC

How will we respond when
some students don’t learn?
           PLCs and RTIs:
          Natural Partners
• Focus on learning
• Collaborative culture
• Focus on results
   Which School is Like Yours?
• Charles Darwin School
• Pontius Pilate School
• Chicago Cub Fan School
• Henry Higgins School
“We believe all kids can learn…”
…based on their ability.”
…if they take advantage of the opportunity
 we give them.”
…something, and we will help all students
 experience academic growth in a warm
 and nurturing environment.”
…and we will work to help all students
 achieve high standards of learning.”
         Model RTI Schools
• Clarity of purpose
• Collaborative culture
• Collective Inquiry into best practices
  and current reality
• Action orientation
• Commitment to continuous
        Model RTI Schools
• Focus on results
• Strong principals who empower
• Commitment to face adversity, conflict,
  and anxiety
• The same guiding phrase
                 Whatever It Takes, Chapter 8
                 DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Karhanek
          RTI is Not…
A system of hoops to jump through
before placing struggling students
into special education.

The sole responsibility of special
education or Title I teachers.
      Staff Roles in RTI Process
1.   Who will oversee the process?
2.   Which interventions will take place in the
     regular classroom and which outside it?
3.   Who will undertake these interventions –
     regular classroom teachers, specialists, or
     special education teachers?
4.   At what stage or tier should special
     education staff begin intervening with
     students at risk?
Alan Sandler
(the “Cool Teacher”)                               Charlotte Darwin
                       Meet the 8th                (lots of transfers out
                                                    by early October)
                       grade algebra
                       teachers at Puff
                       Daddy Middle

                                        Peter Pilate (most problematic
  Henrietta Higgins (monitors student   teacher on team, with student failure
  progress & requires tutoring for      3X higher than other team members)
  those who are behind)
  Confronting the Question,
“How will we respond when our
    students don’t learn?”
       a school-wide plan
    that guarantees students
the time and support they need
 of who their teacher might be.
             Principal’s Role
• Present the current reality to the staff and ask
  them to assess the effectiveness, efficiency,
  and equity.
• Lead staff through an analysis of best
  practices in responding to students who aren’t
• Assist staff in brainstorming ideas to create an
  intervention system that is timely, direct,
  targeted, systematic, and during the school
  There should be a…

Collective Response
              RTI System
• Directive
• Timely
• Targeted
When schools do not create systems of
time and support for struggling students,
teachers are forced to enter into an
unstated, implicit contract with their
       Shift in Assumptions

• LEARNING as the Constant
• Time and Support as the Variables
     Formula for Learning in a PLC

Targeted Instruction   +    Time      =   Learning

      Variable             Variable       Constant
       STEPS in the RTI Process
• Solid core program (Tier 1)
• Universal screening
• Differentiated support within Tier 1
• Progress monitoring of students in the core
• Supplemental (Tier 2) interventions to students
  slightly below level
• Progress monitoring of students within a
  supplemental intervention
     STEPS in the RTI Process
• Intensive interventions (Tier 3) to students
  well below grade level
• Progress monitoring of students within an
  intensive intervention
• Referral for formal evaluation for special
  education eligibility
   Tier 1: Strengthening the Core
• Differentiated instruction and small-group
• Prioritized curriculum so students have ample
  opportunity to master power standards
• Analysis of assessment data to help inform
  staff about quality of the core
• Focused PD for quality teaching
• Programs implemented with fidelity
• Maximized instructional time
“Educators who rely on interventions
alone to meet the needs of students who
score below proficiency will
never solve the basic problem these
children face.”

                 Buffum, Mattos, & Weber,
                 Pyramid Response to Intervention, 2009
   Tier 2: The Supplemental Level
Intentional Nonlearners       Failed Learners
• Mandatory study hall        • Targeted, differentiated
• Mandatory homework help        instruction
• Frequent progress reports   • Time
• Study skills classes        • Prerequisite skill review to
• Goal-setting & career          address the learning gap
   planning support           • Prevention (Extremely
• Targeted rewards               effective with ELL students)
      Targeted Interventions
• More targeted = more effective
• Group by cause of difficulties – not by
• Broad interventions don’t meet any
  particular need
• Crucial to have an effective identification
  and placement system
     Tier 3: The Intensive Level
• Designed for students who show low content area
  skills and/or lack of progress over time when
  provided Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions
• Generally last 12-18 weeks and usually serve no
  more than 5-10% of the student population
• Small group (1-3 optimal) pull-out setting
• Sustained, research-based instruction that may
  include alternate programs.
• Students not “locked in” to intervention : ongoing
  progress monitoring is vital
    Is Your Answer “YES” to…
1. Is our response based upon
   intervention rather than remediation?
2. Is our response systematic?
3. Is our response timely?
4. Is our response directive?
5. Is our response targeted?
6. Is our response flexible?
     Tier 1 Behavioral Interventions
• Provide positive environment for all students through
  the use of effective classroom management along with
  differentiated instruction.
• Adopt a schoolwide behavioral curriculum.
• Maximize instructional time to provide predictable
• Train students at beginning of the year on procedures.
• Model and demonstrate appropriate academic
  behaviors in the classroom.
• Set high expectations.
   Tier 2 Behavioral Interventions
• More targeted, individualized, and intensive
• Provided to small groups of student on a weekly
  basis, often in the form of a social skills club, group
  counseling, mentoring programs, or an actual
  behavior plan
• Progress monitoring can be conducted by using
  teacher rating scales and providing specific feedback
  to the student.
• Tier 2 interventions must be carried out with fidelity
  before accurate decisions can be made.
• All staff collect and analyze behavioral data.
   Tier 3 Behavioral Interventions
• Provided by a team rather than single expert
• Focus on the specific characteristics of the student’s
• Focus on analysis of evidence from previous
  interventions and functional assessments
• Goal is to decrease problematic behaviors AND help
  student build new replacement skills and behaviors
    Is Your Answer “YES” to…
1. Is our response based upon
   intervention rather than remediation?
2. Is our response systematic?
3. Is our response timely?
4. Is our response directive?
5. Is our response targeted?
6. Is our response flexible?
     RTI Success Will be Relevant to
        How a School Answers…
1.    How many tiers of intervention will be provided?
2.    How will the school identify students who need
3.    What is an adequate response to intervention?
4.    What does formal special education evaluation
      look like?
5.    What is the function of special education in the
      context of the entire system?
      Tips for Moving Forward
1.   Be aware of appeals to mindless precedent.
2.   Make sure the system of intervention is fluid.
3.   Systems of intervention work better when they
     are supporting teams rather than individual
4.   Realize that no support system will compensate
     for bad teaching.
5.   Ensure a common understanding of “system of
  SPEED Intervention Checklist

• Systematic
• Practical
• Effective
• Essential
• Directive
“It is disingenuous for any school to
claim its purpose is to help all students to
learn at high levels and then fail to create
a system of interventions to give
struggling learners additional time and
support for learning.”

                   Learning by Doing.
                   DuFour, DuFour, Eaker , and Many
       Elements of RTI in a PLC
• Collective responsibility by all staff for all students
• Access to a high-quality core curriculum
• True differentiation in the classroom
• Universal screening
• Analyses of student work to evaluate overall
  curriculum and diagnose individual student needs
• Tiers of instruction
• Systematic, explicit, and research-based programs
  School Culture: The Foundation
• Assess current reality
• Focus on learning – not teaching
• Honestly try to answer the four critical PLC
• Empowered teacher teams
• Embedded collaboration
• Effective assessment to guide learning
• Focus on results – examine learning
Whatever It Takes: How Professional Learning Communities
  Respond When Kids Don’t Learn; DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, &
  Karhanek, 2004
Pyramid Response to Intervention, RTI, Professional Learning
  Communities, and How to Respond When Kids Don’t Learn;
  Buffum, Mattos, & Webster, 2009
Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning
  Communities at Work; DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2006
“Myths About Response to Intervention” National Association of
  State Directors of Special Education, May 2008